The main aims of LIFE STOPVESPA are the establishment of an Early Warning and Rapid Response System (EWRRS) and the spatial containment of Vespa velutina in Italy.
After a first preliminary phase, which started in August 2015 (Actions A1-A6), the project established a management strategy for Vespa velutina based on rapid nest detection and destruction, with the involvement of monitoring and destroyer teams (C2, C4). The cooperation with Civil Defence teams and firefighters allowed to increase the number of people involved in the management of Vespa velutina and thus the efficacy of the strategy. The control activities implemented in the years 2015-2018 allowed to limit significantly the further expansion of Vespa velutina, thanks also to the detection and destruction of about 2.000 colonies of the species (D1). The partnership with Aspromiele and with the Abbazia dei Padri Benedettini Santa Maria di Finalpia, besides to the contribution of beekeepers and their Associations, allowed to extend the monitoring network in Liguria and Piedmont regions.
The activities developed with the Politecnico di Torino allowed to create the prototype of harmonic radar to track the hornets’ flight (C1, D2). This tool make possible to follow for more than 500 meters the insects flight and discover the location of their nests. The use of the radar in the field allowed locate and remove several colonies in 2017 and 2018, particularly in the outbreaks of invasion of La Spezia and Finale Ligure.
The field activities of the University of Turin allowed to collect important data about the biology of the species (C3) and the impacts caused on beekeeping and biodiversity (D1, D3). During these years, the project worked also on the communication aspects for the dissemination of results at different levels, rising awareness in citizens, students, stakeholders, authorities, people working in public bodies, as well as researchers at a national and international scale (E1-E4).
A Vespa Emergency Team has been created with the aim to intervene at a national level in case of reports of Vespa velutina outside project area (F2). The experience gained within LIFE STOPVESPA may represents an important point of reference for the management of this species in the future (C4, F3).
ACTIONS DEVELOPED BY THE LIFE STOPVESPA PROJECT
A. Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans
A1 Preparation of the legal and administrative assistance for a correct carrying out of the Project
A2 Set up of methods and tools to monitor and control Vespa velutina
A3 Training of staff (project + volunteers) in monitoring methods
A4 Defining the distribution and size of Vespa velutina colonies in Piedmont and Liguria
A5 Assessing the negative impacts of Vespa velutina and identifying drivers and pathways of introduction
A6 Preparation of a Best Management Strategy for Vespa velutina in Piedmont and Liguria
C. Concrete conservation actions
C1 Development of a new radar tool to locate Vespa velutina nests
C2 Management of Vespa velutina colonies in Piemonte and Liguria
C3 Collection of biological information on Vespa velutina from the captured animals to improve species management
C4 Establishement of an Early Warning and Rapid Response System
D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions
D1 Monitoring the evolution of Vespa velutina in Piemonte and Liguria
D2 Monitoring the cost/effectiveness of the harmonic radar developed to locate Vespa velutina nests
D3 Monitoring the level of information on the presence and threat posed by Vespa velutina on biodiversity
E. Public awareness and dissemination of results
E1 Preparing materials and planning communication activities
E2 Education and awareness raising
E3 Networking and dissemination of “best practices” with other projects (LIFE or not) and at national/international level
E4 Creating and up-dating the project website
F. Project management and monitoring of project progress
F1 General management and monitoring of the project
F2 Establishment of an Emergency Team
F3 Preparation of the After-LIFE Plan
F4 Evaluating indicators of the project
F5 Producing the Layman's report
F6 External audit of the financial consistency of the project