The first edition of the Trails is the fruit of a collaborative effort of 20 researchers. They organised a vast programme of activities on the topics of biodiversity, high-elevation ecology, plankton, and water ecosystems. The main areas interested in these events were: the Alps, the Apennines, the mountain and sub-alpine lakes, the coastal dunes, and the Gulf of Naples.
There were several public engagement initiatives, such as Citizen Science initiatives and BioBlitz.
Three Trails were organized in 2015, two walking events and one by bike, between June and August. (1) Mesothalassia: an ecological bike relay from the Molise dunes to the Gulf of Naples, (2) On the Central Apennines of Velino and Gran Sasso, the adventure of biodiversity, (3) Pink… light blue… green! Eco-relay between the LTER sites from the Monte Rosa to the Lago Maggiore”.
Two videomakers, Orazio Aloi and Francesca Consoli (Associazione Immagina), followed the researchers along the three itineraries, realizing a 50-minute documentary that was projected during several events. From the documentary, three short videos of 10 minutes each were created to present each of the Trails.
All these videos are available on the LTER-Italy YouTube channel. The photos were taken by the photographer Antonio Bergamino.
The three Trails were included among the science communication initiatives at EXPO2015, where we had the chance to talk about our initiative to a wider audience during the event “Ecosystems and Biodiversity: science at Citizens’ Service”.
The Trail started from the LTER site “Dune sabbiose”, Foce Trigno-Marina di Petacciato (Campobasso), crossing the Apennines along the rivers Olifanto (on the Adriatic side) and Sele (on the Tirrenic side), and ending in the LTER macro-site “Golfo di Napoli” (sites of MareChiara and Lacco Ameno, Ischia).
The Trail lasted 9 days and was traveled mainly by bike. The main objective was to raise awareness among local people (citizens, students, and local associations) on water micro-organisms biodiversity (mostly plankton) and the role of these creatures in the ecosystem. The aim was to convey a message on the importance of water as a natural resource for the health of humans and ecosystems.
This Trail took place on the mountains of Abruzzo and connected two high-elevated LTER sites managed by the State Forestry Corps (Corpo Forestale dello Stato- CFS), going from Monte Velino to Gran Sasso passing through the city of L’Aquila. The Trail was walked mainly by foot across the typical landscape of the inner Central Apennines: mixed forests, beech woods, and high-altitude grasslands. All these landscapes have high biodiversity and environmental and touristic value.
The Trail also crossed two Natural Parks: the Regional Park of Silente-Velino and the National Park of Gran Sasso.
The Trail started on the 29th of July 2015 with a series of vegetation and bird surveys on Monte Velino. The participants were accompanied by botanists, ornithologists, and geologists throughout the path. The final day of the Trail, the 1st of August, saw researchers, amateur naturalists, and volunteers doing an intensive field study (called “BioBlitz”) to determine in 24 hours the species of animals and plants that live in the area, contributing to the definition of the current state of biodiversity in the area.
In conjunction with the beginning of the Trail, the event “Ecosystems and Biodiversity: science at Citizens’ Service” was organised by LTER-Italy and LifeWatch Italy at the Italian Pavilion at EXPO2015.