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Invasive Ailanthus management project begins


The Public Institute of Krka National Park is a partner on the project “LIFE CONTRA Ailanthus” financed through the LIFE Programme

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development has signed a contract with the European Commission for the project “LIFE CONTRA Ailanthus” aimed at establishing control over the invasive species Ailanthus. The project is valued at a total of HRK 19.4 million, and is 60% co-financed by the European Union.

The project is financed through the LIFE Programme, an instrument of the European Union intended to finance activities in the areas of environmental protection, nature and climate. The project will be implemented by the Department for Environmental Protection and Nature of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. The project implementation period is four and a half years.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle) is a tree originating from east Asia that has been planted worldwide as a horticultural tree since the 18th century. Today, it is considered one of the most invasive plant species in Europe. Ailanthus forces out the native vegetation, reducing biodiversity, incurring damages to agriculture, causing allergies in people, and destroying cultural heritage and other structures with its exceptionally strong root system. Due to its negative impacts on biodiversity, the economy and human health, it is included on the list of invasive alien species that are a cause for concern in the European Union. In Croatia, Ailanthus is widely distributed, particularly threatening the protected habitats and species in the Mediterranean region.

This project aims to establish control over this invasive tree species in the Mediterranean region of Croatia, in two areas of the Ecological Network of the Republic of Croatia (HR2000918 Broader area of Krka National Park; HR2001364 Southeastern part of the Pelješac Peninsula), and in cities with a historical city core (Ston, Mali Ston and Dubrovnik). Partners on the project are the Public Institute of Krka National Park, the Public Institute for managing protected natural areas in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, and Vrtlar d.o.o. from Dubrovnik.

The expected results of the project “LIFE CONTRA Ailanthus” are improved status of conserving Natura 2000 habitat types, preserving cultural heritage, preventing the further spread of invasive alien species, and the development of a national protocol. Additional objectives are capacity building for managing invasive species, and raising public awareness of the negative impacts of invasive species at the national level.

Prior to entering the project as a partner, the Public Institute of Krka National Park conducted a campaign to remove Ailanthus on experimental plots in the Park.