The Natural Marine Reserve of Miramare (RNMM) (EUAP 0167) was established in 1986 with a Decree of the Italian Ministry of the Environment, which assigned its management to WWF Italy ONLUS (D.M. 12 novembre 1986). In 2006, in the framework of a reorganization of all protected areas managed by WWF Italy, some of the managing functions were transferred to WWF Oasis society with the authorization of the Italian Ministry of the Environment.
The natural environment
Miramare Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located in the Gulf of Trieste (Municipality of Trieste) and it extends around the Miramare promontory, a littoral outcrop embedded between Grignano Marina and Barcola coast, a local seaside resort. The headquarters are located in the “Castelletto of Miramare” (see specific page). This marine coastal area is characterized by a rocky outcrop with coastal cliffs gradually sloping down in boulders, pebbles and muddy formations while moving towards and below sea level. The maximum water depth is of 18 meters, with rocky and sandy bottoms turning into a muddy seafloor at about 8 meters of depth. The coastal rocks are made of karstic limestone, and Miramare promontory itself is a coastal outcrop of the Karst plateau.
The protected area
The Marine Core Area, which extends over 30 hectares stretching up to 200 meters offshore, is under a strict protection regime. The only exception is a one-hectare-corridor along the “Castello of Miramare” cliff, where all SCUBA-diving guided tours are carried out. The core area is surrounded by a Marine Buffer Zone (established by Ordinances nr. 76/95 and nr. 28/98 of the Harbour Office of Trieste), which is under a partial protection regime. The buffer zone extends over 90 hectares, ensuring protection from professional fishing and anchorage of an additional 400-meter-wide belt.
A reserve part of a network
Miramare MPA is renowned for both its high biological value and its management effectiveness, and it has been part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (MAB UNESCO) since 1979. MAB UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are marine and/or terrestrial areas promoting and displaying a balanced relationship between human communities and ecosystems. They are also important sites for research and environmental education activities, as well as training grounds for the definition of spatial planning and sustainable development policies (see specific page).
Benefiting of more than 20 years of experience, today Miramare MPA – the only “marine” Oasis among over 100 Italian Oasis managed by WWF – is also a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI). In order to obtain and maintain such an exclusive status, SPAMI areas must constantly promote studies aimed at monitoring the conservation status of seabed biotopes, ensuring the preservation of high biodiversity levels.
Miramare MPA is also promoter of the ISEA project, carried out by WWF in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of the Environment. The ISEA project aims at developing interventions to support the effective management of Italian marine protected areas, especially focusing on the implementation of standardized management practices and the promotion of best practice exchange within the MPA network.
In June 2011, a Decree of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia has identified Miramare MPA as a Site of Community Interest (SCI) according to the Habitat Directive 92/43 EEC and the Birds Directive 79/409/EEC. Miramare MPA has thus become part of the European “Natura 2000” ecological network; the new SCI IT3340007 matches the MPA borders and is called “Miramare Marine Area”.
In addition, since 2004 Miramare Managing Body has voluntarily adhered to the European Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), in order to assess and improve its environmental management standards – Miramare MPA was the first Italian marine reserve to obtain the EMAS certification.
Miramare MPA mission
As stated in its institutive decree, Miramare MPA institutional aims encompass three areas of activity:
CONSERVATION of the protected area, by carrying out environmental safeguard and improvement activities focused on benthonic and pelagic geomorphological and biological features;
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH applied to marine resource management, by carrying out studies on local ecosystems and protected species, as well as monitoring campaigns in collaboration with high-level local and national scientific institutes;
EDUCATION, by carrying out awareness-raising and educational programmes in relevant fields, such as biology and marine ecology, in order to raise people’s environmental knowledge. Educational offers are not only targeted to schools; indeed, they include a wide selection of activities distributed throughout the year, such as creative laboratories, naturalistic guided tours, eco-recreational and awareness-raising events for families, sea-watching activities and underwater guided visits.
All these activities have made Miramare MPA an important reference point for other Mediterranean protected areas, as well as a top attraction for the 15.000 visitors and students that discover it each year.