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San Marino - Main Details

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

San Marino is an enclaved microstate (61 km2) located on the Italian peninsula, to the northeast of the Apennine Mountains, featuring small steep valleys and creeks and spectacular limestone cliffs. Despite its small size, the country contains a high level of biological, geological and landscape diversity. Twenty-one percent of its territory is assessed as urban; 41% agricultural (mainly arable lands, orchards, vineyards and olive groves); 16% woodlands (predominantly oaks and other broadleaves); over 17% shrublands and similar lands; 4% badlands; while less than 1% is covered by rivers. Due to the presence of several ecotone belts, different vegetation types and a mosaic of human and wild landscapes, a large variety of species of flora and fauna exists in the country.

Small portions of the country have conserved natural landscape and good ecosystem functionality. A high level of ecosystem heterogeneity is present in certain badland zones (e.g. in the valleys of Fosso di Ca’ Chiavello and Fosso delle Bruciate and in the Torraccia zone), while good ecosystem functionality is particularly linked to the water network (upper basin of the San Marino Torrent).

Fragmentation of the landscape is an important phenomenon and closely linked to intensive land use although there are still areas where the dynamics of fragmentation are barely noted. The entire forestry system must be protected; incentives are needed to increase the functions of the system, including its service as a carbon reservoir in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, among other functions. Suitable strategies for preserving calanques are also needed.

In addition to the loss of soil and change in its intended use, with consequent modification and fragmentation of habitats caused mainly by a high rate of widespread urbanisation, another major threat faced by the small country, which currently constitutes an immediate danger to the preservation of habitats and species, is the alteration of ecosystems of running waters, due to the dispersion of mostly organic waste and modification of the natural physical structure of riverbeds.

All habitats and indigenous species of fish in running water can be considered endangered and some of them critically endangered. The South European Nase (Chondrostoma genei) has not been found since the 1990s and can be considered extinct in the territory.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

Since the national territory has a very limited extension (6,119 ha) and is totally located within the Italian peninsula, it is inevitably subject to environmental changes, pressures and the threats that, on a large scale, affect biodiversity in Italy.

However, in the small country of San Marino, simplification of agro-ecosystems, use of pesticides, chemical pollution and construction of specific infrastructure do not currently represent a serious problem; instead the direct consequences of the current rate of urbanization include the loss, fragmentation and erosion of habitats and impairment of their ecological and functional roles, with several negative effects on the survival of populations and species, soil permeability, temperature rise and hydrogeological balance.

Also, alteration of the physical structure of the waterways, organic pollution from sewage and reduction of water flow due to anthropic exploitation and climate change constitute an immediate problem to the preservation of habitats and species.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The country has not prepared a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The “San Marino Agenda 21 Coordination” was established in 2007 and includes 23 bodies and associations that organize training and awareness-raising initiatives, including conferences and exhibitions, for the general public and schools. Issues highlighted include, among others, ecosystem protection, sustainable development, climate change, new technologies related to alternative energy sources and energy efficiency. Notably, children in elementary schools (6-11 years) are also learning the fundamental concepts of “Agenda 21” and stimulated to identify initiatives to promote sustainable development throughout the country.

In 2010, San Marino’s new Agro-Environmental Plan entered into force (the Plan promotes eco-friendly and eco-sustainable agriculture).

Over the last few years, data obtained from in-depth studies have significantly increased knowledge on habitats and species and has led to the publication of documents on the distribution and quantity of fish, amphibians, reptiles, nesting birds and mammals present in San Marino. For some of these groups, National Red Lists have been created according to the IUCN criteria. Additionally, an in-depth phytosociological study was conducted on the territory’s plant landscape; the country also boasts of an herbarium (Herbarium of San Marino Flora).

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

Adopted by decree in 2012, San Marino’s Environmental Code incorporates the latest European environmental standards. In 2014, the Government adopted the law reform on the promotion and enhancement of energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energy use in the civil and industrial sectors (2008) (a complementary multi-year National Energy Plan has also been prepared). The current hunting law (and the existing wildlife management plan) protects certain animal species; a new law for the protection and preservation of wildlife awaits formal endorsement.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

San Marino recognizes that systematic data collection should be strengthened, as should standardized integrated monitoring.

Since 2012, the San Marino Naturalistic Centre (CNS) has existed as an organizational unit within the Department of the Territory and Environment, designated as the Scientific Authority for CITES and responsible for monitoring the natural aspects of the country through study and field research activities, both independently and in collaboration with other organizational units of the public administration and/or other authorities or private citizens. The CNS is also the seat of the Observatory of Wild Fauna and Relevant Habitats which provides important substantive information for taking decisions on biodiversity management; a body of technical experts, administrative executives, representatives of environmental associations and the hunting sector, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Environment, is entrusted with the implementation of various tasks.

In collaboration with the CNS, San Marino has promoted and implemented monitoring protocols for the main groups of fauna and flora to be preserved and managed (this relates in particular to vertebrates). Activities have also been carried out to detect and map sensitive areas, as well as those areas impacted by the effects of climate change, and to implement specific measures required to protect these areas. Research activities conducted by the CNS also include the monitoring and analysis of the presence of exotic species facilitated by current climate change in the territory’s ecosystems.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme