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Maiella National Park and WWF Italy reward good practices for the protection of the Apennine brown bear and its habitat.

On the European Day of Parks, celebrated on May 24th, MNP and WWF launched the label that rewards beekeepers and farmers who adopt techniques and behaviours aimed at favouring the protection of the Apennine brown bear, the biodiversity and the ecosystem in which this large mammal lives. 

Honey, fruit, vegetables produced in Maiella will soon become ambassadors for the protection of the Apennine brown bear. In the frame of Actions A3-C10, the Maiella National Park and WWF Italy, have established the Bear Friendly label, an award for producers operating in the municipalities of the protected area, applying specific regulations in favour of the Apennine brown bear and its habitat. This is an action that aims at giving visibility to all those who, through their daily activities, act consciously to avoid potential situations of human-bear conflict and voluntarily apply production techniques with a low impact on the ecosystem. 

The Bear Friendly label is a powerful tool to locally promote a culture of hospitality and respect for a critically endangered subspecies, to involve local producers in achieving international objectives for the biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, to give visibility to all the virtuous experiences that concretely contribute to guarantee the survival of the Apennine brown bear in the long term. 

The criteria for the Bear Friendly label granting have been drawn up through the participation of potential beneficiaries. Beekeepers and farmers have worked together with the Park and the WWF and have passionately dedicated their time to drafting the specifications, showing enthusiasm for this initiative that allows to improve the image of each producer through an award that recognizes the efforts made voluntarily to find the right balance between production needs and maintenance of the natural resources to which we are all linked. Potential beneficiaries of the label are therefore beekeepers who raise the autochthonous Italian bee Apis mellifera ligustica and protect beehives from bear damage as well as farmers who cultivate local varieties or possess organic certification or, again, use production methods with low use of Plant Protection Products (PPP).

The Bear Friendly logo, conceived from the LIFE ARCPROM project logo, has been created in six appealing colour variations. This choice is aimed at promoting the visibility of the label on the different product packaging but also at creating a multiplicity of images to better capture the attention of consumers.

For the Maiella National Park this action is a great concrete step in the strategy for the protection of the Apennine brown bear, a step that will help to recognize the bear as an integral part and value of the territory and that will favour a dialogue with economic operators of the protected area, to involve them on the issues of nature conservation, which is possible only if it becomes a responsibility for everyone. For the WWF it is of considerable importance to work together with the Maiella National Park, due to the role that this expansion area plays for the Apennine brown bear. Finally, the experimentation of this form of involvement and empowerment of stakeholders will also make it possible to better and more promptly manage situations of stable presence of the bear in other expansion areas. 

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