XIX. Monitoring Insects with Public Participation (MIPP) project in Italy

Interaction type Government → Public → Government
Trigger event ·
Domain Biodiversity mapping
Organisation The National Centre Forest Biodiversity
Actors National Centre Forest Biodiversity, State Forestry Corps, Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, Lombardy Region, La Sapienza – University of Rome, University “Roma Tre”, Agricultural Research Council (CRA).
Data sets Occurrence data of 9 species listed in tha Habitats Directive.
Process Citizens upload spatial, attribute data and pictures of insects via web or app, after a validation process made by specialists, the record are saved in the map of the project and in the government database on protected species.
Feedback Record on map.
Goal Increase the knowledge on the distribution of species.
Side effects
Impact of the project Impact in a national level
Temporal pattern Ongoing process
Funding of the project LIFE Programme
Contact point Alessandro Campanaro

The Monitoring Insects with Public Participation (MIPP) citizen science program is part of a project aimed to the development of standard monitoring protocols to be applied at national level for conservation of protected insects under the Habitats Directive. Although in many European countries, the protocols are standardized with published national guidelines for the monitoring of insect species, in Italy the existing gap should be filled. The standardized protocols include information for monitoring, for the estimation of changes in population size, the level of threat and the state of conservation of endangered species.

The MIPP project (Monitoring of insects with public participation) is a project of the State Forestry Service, co-funded by the European Commission under the LIFE + program (LIFE11 NAT/IT/000252). The associated beneficiaries of the project are: Sapienza – University of Rome, University Roma Tre, Italian Ministry for the Environment, Region Lombardy and the Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture – ABP Florence. The project takes place mainly in five areas which are managed by the National Forestry Service; the Tarvisio Forest, the Natural Reserve of Bosco Fontana, the Casentino Forests, the Castle of Sangro and the Natural Reserve “Mesola Wood”.

The main objective of the project MIPP is to develop and test methods for the monitoring of five beetle species listed in the Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive (Osmoderma eremita, Lucanus cervus, Cerambyx cerdo, Rosalia alpina, Morimus funereus). Only a standardized monitoring program, using appropriate methods, guarantees the collection of comparable data. The project MIPP tests methods based on direct observations, genetic analyses and on trapping.

A second objective of the project is the collection of faunistic data, gathered by citizens, via the website of the project. The data can also be collected via a smartphone application. In fact, the main purpose of this web portal is to collect and display faunistic data collected from citizens concerning the presence of the above species and of the species Lopinga achine, Parnassius apollo, Saga pedo, Zerynthia polyxena, which are also included in the annexes of the Habitats Directive. In the period 2014-2016: 2,308 records collected and validated by specialist. 1,691 of these were confirmed (73.26 %). Direct instructions are given step by step at the project’s website. The contributors are informed how to send their reports, how to fill the given form with their personal data, how to update the dynamic map with their spatial observations and how to submit attribute data about the insect and the place of sighting. Alternatively the citizens can write the GPS coordinates in the field under the map. The citizens can also upload a photo of the insect and provide relevant information to conclude their submission. Technical days, seminars, and various workshops are carried out by the organization in order to support and disseminate the project.

Another component of this LIFE+ project is to inform and educate the public on issues such as Natura 2000, Habitats Directive, and monitoring and saproxylic insects.

Due to this project, knowledge on the distribution of protected species has been increased 20-30%. Also citizens have gained awareness on themes like: forest biodiversity, Natura 2000, saproxylic species and monitoring. However, according to the actors of the project, only a certain part of the public has been involved. Thus a social study is required. Also, funding for the time being is guaranteed by EU, however, it may not be provided by the government after the end of EU funding period.

Main Lessons:

  • EU funding supports citizen science projects.
  • Various channels of training encourage participation.
  • Validation of the submitted data may fill the accuracy and quality gaps in crowdsourced projects. A team of coordinators is required for quick and reliable evaluation.
  • Only a certain part of the public has been involved (social study required).