The latest and improved website on Italy's wildlife and protected areas, set by the Ministry of the Environment, is now online.

"In the heart of the Mediterranean there is a special world which is a veritable treasure trove of biodiversity that, from the Alps to the islands facing Africa, is home to riches of inestimable value, thousands of species of plants and animals, including the continent's largest predators.

This is Italy: here, a wild heart still beats alongside the art and the history.

This outstanding richness is the theme of the new website of the Italian Ministry of the Environment, which is addressed to conservation experts and technicians, but also to the Italian and International community of nature lovers"

The newest version of www.naturaitalia.it, the portal of the Ministry of the Environment developed to disseminate and study issues related to the biodiversity of our country and its conservation, is now online. Three main areas of the site are: "Experience the natural areas", "Discover the biodiversity" and "Know and defend the sea".

Isola di Tavolara (A.Congiu/Panda Photo) Isola di Tavolara (A.Congiu/Panda Photo)

In Italy, the national parks are 24 and cover nearly 1.5 million hectares of land and 71 thousand of sea water; MPAs are27 instead, for an extension of about 222 thousand hectares. Additionally, there are two under water parks and the International Sanctuary for marine mammals, with another 2.5 million protected hectares. This large mosaic of natural environments allows our country to protect an heritage of biodiversity that is the highest and most significant in Europe. The protected areas can be considered as the instrument of choice to promote and support forms of economic and social development while being consistent with the objectives of environmental sustainability.

Piana di Castelluccio (Foto G. Carotti) Piana di Castelluccio (Foto G. Carotti)

In the first section of the website, one will be able to learn about the history, geography, flora, fauna and regulations of each area, along with directions and up to date weather information for each area; it will also open a rich gallery of photos, videos and publications. Moreover, thanks to an agreement with Google, using the "streetview" function it will be possible to virtually follow the trails of the national parks. The first virtual trails, already available, are found in the Gran Paradiso National Park, the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise and that of Sila.

Lince europea (M.Lanini/Panda Photo) Lince europea (M.Lanini/Panda Photo)

The theme of the second section of the portal is Italian biodiversity, which is analyzed in all its aspects: what it is, what threatens it, why it is important to preserve it, but also what can each of us can do to contribute to the protection of this extraordinary heritage. It is a treasure of inestimable value, consisting of more than 57.000 species of animals and more than 10.000 species of plants: from the largest predators of the continent to the smallest mammals in the world, from the wrecks of the ice ages to tropical life forms, from trees to the most unusual micro-organisms, Italy is absolutely one of the richest countries of wildlife.

Stambecchi (G.Marcoaldi/Panda Photo) Stambecchi (G.Marcoaldi/Panda Photo)

Data, constantly updated, are the result of the work done by the Network of Biodiversity which coordinates the work of researchers, universities, public offices, in order to harmonize and update a considerable amount of information.

Stenella (V.Puggioni/Panda Photo) Stenella (V.Puggioni/Panda Photo)

In this new version of "Naturaitalia.it", fast and updated consultation intended not only to professionals but also to the general public, we could not exclude the sea.

Coppia di bianconi (M.Campora/Panda Photo) Coppia di bianconi (M.Campora/Panda Photo)

The third section of the site is dedicated to the protection and conservation of the sea; here it will be possible to find news on the fight against pollution, the description of means and techniques adopted to tackle the most critical situations but also the database of the Sea Defense System (Si.Di.Mar.), an information system that can provide complete and coordinated data on the conditions of the pelagic and coastal ecosystems.

Foresta Umbra (M.Melodia/Panda Photo) Foresta Umbra (M.Melodia/Panda Photo)