The Italian UNA Foundation -Human, Nature, Environment – is an environmental non-governmental, non-profit organisation, which since 2015 has represented a meeting place between the hunting, environmental, agricultural and scientific-academic worlds.
The founding goal of the UNA Foundation is the protection of biodiversity through its active engagement in addressing and seeking solutions to the emergencies/dangers that threaten its balance, via the implementation of targeted activities and projects.
In light of the ongoing policy discussions about Europe’s new Nature Restoration Law, here’s a successful habitat restoration project in Italy. Conservation action is essential for biodiversity and the efforts of hunters should be well integrated into future European and national frameworks to support local restoration actions. This project is another excellent example of how hunters are already contributing to the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and nature restoration targets.
Operazione Paladini del Territorio:
Amongst these projects, we present Operazione Paladini del Territorio (Operation Guardians of the Environment), a new initiative established in 2020 from the close collaboration between the UNA Foundation and its founding members. The Operation is dedicated to restoring degraded areas, promoting the hunting world’s contribution to the conservation and care of nature and, in general, of the environment. Furthermore, it encourages Italian hunters, who are already active in their own right in protecting their local territory, and in particular in keeping forests, marshes and rural areas uncontaminated, to action.
The initiative, which primarily sees the active involvement of hunting associations and hunters, is however also open to the whole of civil society and to the various associations driven by interest in a healthy and clean environment.
Hunter’s Clean-up initiative:
Annually across Italy, each participating territory organises a clean-up activity that lasts half a day and is carried out in a week proposed by the Foundation, which celebrates an important day for environmental sustainability. In 2023, the clean- up Operation was carried out during the third week of April in which Earth Day was celebrated (22 April). Their reforestation and clean-up activities can cover several different types of ecosystems, such as the beach, forests and paths, rivers and embankments, and urban areas. Each area where the project takes place is then included in a communication plan that highlights the activities carried out with local and national media and on social media, highlighting the quantity and type of waste collected, such as hazardous material (asbestos waste and used syringes) or bulky material (tyres, refrigerators, doors).
In addition, the initiative is open to all, any local bodies or institutions can sponsor the initiative and collaborate for the successful implementation of the project.
2022 was a very positive year for the operation’s realisation and, at the same time, for the results achieved: more than 3,000 people, united by a deep bond with their territory and nature, took part in the initiatives held in more than 100 local communities in 14 Italian regions, leading to the collection and disposal of around 20 tonnes of waste illegally deposited in woods and natural areas throughout the peninsula, benefiting more than 2 million people living in the areas concerned.
The 2023 Operation was even greater, doubling the previuos year’s results thanks to the hunters’ commitment and attachment to the territory: more than 4000 people, driven by love and care for their territory, actively participated in initiatives organised by more than 130 hunting clubs and held in numerous local communities in 15 regions, leading to the collection and disposal of 40 tonnes of illegally deposited waste in both natural and urban areas, giving benefits to more than 5 million people living in the affected areas. Starting from the positive experience of 2022, hunters have confirmed their commitment in spreading greater awarness about hunting activity, especially addressing younger generations. Within this framework, UNA Foundation supports hunters by giving them exposure on national and local press, as in 2022, through the drafting and distribution of press releases and with the identification of special spaces on local newspapers. In 2023 more than 270 articles have been published, reaching almost 25 million people, on newspapers of national importance such as Corriere della Sera, press agencies, major newspapers such as Journal of Brescia , La Nazione , Gazzetta del Sud , and on major regional information sites.
As it was in the past, it continues from the present through to the future; our hunters dedicate their livelihood under the banner of ecology. They demonstrate their commitment to maintaining the figure of the hunter as a Guardian of the environment’, a modern hunter who is an environmental guardian, a fundamental aid in safeguarding the ecosystem and the balance of fauna and nature. Hunting activities must, in fact, be understood as driven by a strong sense of ethics and responsibility, representing a useful and positive element to guarantee the balance of nature and its ecosystems of natural balances. This momentous project is expected to take place every year.