Management of impacts on biodiversity


TERNA, WWF ITALIA and the Park Authority together in the Gran Sasso Park



The collaboration between Terna and WWF Italia to create projects in the Eco-Regional Conservation (ERC) priority areas continued during 2012, resulting in a vegetation regeneration project in the Gran Sasso National Park, in Abruzzo.

In particular, the passage of the new Bolognano - Bussi line near the Gole di Popoli, an area characterised by steep slopes at serious risk of hydro-geological degeneration, created the basis for a project to re-establish the vegetation cover in areas affected by the excavation and positioning of eight electricity transmission pylons.

The craggy environment in which the project took place is one of the most unfavourable for plant life owing both to the micro-climatic conditions of the area and to the stresses caused by the surface movement of detritus, as well as the accentuated erosion of such disturbed soils by rain water: for this reason, the plant species used were selected on the basis of their ability to colonize the soil.

In August, on the Park Authority's indication, in the area and the immediate surroundings, these plants were cut to obtain native seeds which were subsequently sown.

To facilitate the establishment of new plants, naturalistic engineering practices were implemented, such as the use of “biomats” to reconstitute and consolidate the substrate. These encourage the accumulation of earth, necessary for the sowing and subsequent establishment of the young plants, and protect them against erosion.

The project in Abruzzo follows a series of other initiatives, which all result from a multi-year agreement between Terna and WWF Italia. These projects have involved the Tuscan WWF oases of Stagni di Focognano (Florence) and Padule-Orti Bottagone (Livorno), and the Sicilian oasis of Torre Salsa (Agrigento).

The next Terna - WWF Italia project will regard the Pollino Park, in Calabria and Basilicata, and will be focused on monitoring and controlling the migratory, nesting and wintering populations of birds of prey.

For further information see the “Sustainability” section of the Terna website under the Biodiversity item of the environment menu.


Terna manages its impacts on biodiversity with a series of integrated instruments that consider such impacts right from the planning stage and, whenever necessary, by adopting appropriate mitigation and offsetting measures.

The approach is primarily preventive. Therefore, like other environmental variables, biodiversity – and in particular the presence of protected areas –constitutes an important featurein the sustainability-based planning of grid development. The biodiversity features of areas that could potentially host new infrastructure are carefully studied. The information collected becomes part of the criteria used to determine the final route and is available in the parts of the Environmental Report containing regional details that accompany the Grid Development Plan.

This approach was confirmed in the protocol of understanding signed by Terna and the WWF (see the box below) which provides for, among other things, the incorporation of environmental criteria consistent with the WWF’s conservation strategy into the planning of new lines to be built.

Despite the precautions taken in the planning stage, it is possible that interference may occur between individual works and certain species or habitats. To reduce this interference to a minimum, environmental mitigation measures are adopted, both in the construction stage of the work, and during operation. If the mitigation measures are not sufficient to reduce the interference to insignificant levels, environmental compensation measures are adopted, i.e. actions on areas near the power line.

The main mitigation and offsetting measures entail:

  • environmental regeneration, carrying out naturalistic engineering works, capable of regulating the surface flow of rainwater and, therefore, controlling the phenomenon of soil erosion;
  • reforestation, through the planting of native species of trees and shrubs that are part of local vegetation;


  • turfing, by sowing seeds belonging to native species together with natural fertilizers and adhesives that help them take root. The use of native species prevents the phenomenon of floristic pollution via the introduction of species that are foreign to the environment;


  • offsetting, i.e. compensating for the cutting down of trees along the planned lines by planting trees of the same species over equivalent areasPer le specie animali e floristiche potenzialmente coinvolte si rimanda al Rapporto Ambientale 2012, pubblicato sul sito di Terna nella sezione “Sistema Elettrico”.

With regard to the species of flora and fauna potentially involved, see the 2012 Environmental Report, which is published in the “Electricity System” section of Terna’s website.

During the construction of infrastructure, the habitats and species of the flora and fauna concerned are monitored. Environmental analyses are performed before construction and the data obtained are then compared to those from samples taken subsequently in order to promptly identify the appearance of any signs of deterioration.

As far as existing lines are concerned, Terna has tried out mitigation systems, in particular regarding interference between lines and birdlife, which are described in the following section.