Snam and Nebrodi Park

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the bronte - montalbano elicona gas pipeline

Almost ten years have passed since Snam launched, in 2003, a challenging project for the development of a new gas pipeline in North-Eastern Sicily, crossing an area of Parco dei Nebrodi that is extremely important for its biodiversity and its contribution to the landscape.

a virtuous example of involving the territory

Indicating a new paradigm in the relationship between development and environmental protection was one of the principles that underpinned the entire operation, the aim being to demonstrate how the redevelopment of land in a certain area can coexist with the modernisation of infrastructure according to a sustainability approach implemented in real life.

Environmental restoration

To understand the planning methods implemented by Snam, it is necessary to describe the unique features of the land crossed and those of this highly complex operation. This can be done by starting from the key meeting point of this exemplary story: that between Parco dei Nebrodi, with its territory and nature, and mankind, with its ingenuity and ability to construct.



An apparent paradox


Regarding man and nature as two separate entities, irretrievably divided, difficult to assimilate or even contradictory, as if the presence of one automatically excludes the other, is a prejudice that has deep roots going back to before the Industrial Revolution; and it is connected with an idea that grew up during the Romantic era that views nature and civilisation as two “ diverging options”.

In this respect, Parco dei Nebrodi represents a kind of living paradox as the plan for the protection and enhancement of the area deliberately includes the presence of man and his activities.

La flora


The most distinctive features of Parco dei Nebrodi are its huge forests, which can be seen from as far away as the coast. The Nebrodi woods are a highly characteristic feature of the territory not just in terms of their size but also for the extreme variety of tree species found there, represented by levels of vegetation that reflect the altitudinal distribution, temperature and level of rainfall and snowfall.

Close to the coasts and as high as 600-800 metres (the so-called “Mediterranean plane”) essences like broom and myrtle colour and perfume the characteristic evergreen scrub. Higher up the vegetation changes radically with unusual species for these latitudes: firstly oak woods and then, going beyond 1200 metres, beech trees in splendid woods that cover the entire ridge and characterise areas that are of immense value in terms of nature and the landscape.

La fauna


As well as characterising the landscape, the forests and hills are also the natural habitat of a rich array of fauna: from invertebrates to mammals, all of the principal classes and orders of animal are present in the park, with a number of special and even unique varieties to be found: around 150 classified bird species, 600 registered species of invertebrates, 22 of which completely new to the international scientific community.

The most representative of the conservation and protection projects is the reintroduction of the griffon vulture, an imposing bird with a wing-span of up to 3 metres, that became extinct in Sicily in the 1960’s. There is currently a permanent colony of around fifty of these birds in the Rocche del Crasto area.

the bronte - montalbano elicona gas pipeline

A gas pipeline in the park


A 15 km tract of the infrastructure runs through Parco dei Nebrodi, a territory that stands out for the dissymmetry of its hillsides, its incredibly rich vegetation and its numerous humid environments. This required very painstaking planning, the criteria of which were defined in the Memorandum of Understanding in March 2004 between Snam Rete Gas and the Parco dei Nebrodi Association.

This led to the definition of the methods of intervention in the protected area as regards the functioning of existing systems, their maintenance and adaptation operations, while actions for the conservation and protection of the landscape were also planned.

All in all, in the territory of Parco dei Nebrodi around 32 hectares of land was grassed and around 18 hectares reforested with the bedding of 22,700 indigenous plants.

A virtuous example of working with the territory


The partnership with Parco dei Nebrodi represents a continuation of the tradition of dialogue and interaction that Snam and all its companies always pursue in the development of its infrastructure.

The Nebrodi project in particular represents, from all points of view, a best practice in terms of cooperation with the entities involved in the project to develop the gas pipeline: Snam Rete Gas, the Park Association, local institutions, research bodies and universities and environmental associations worked closely together thanks to the creation of an Environmental Observatory designed to oversee the drafting of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2004 and to examine the projects relating to the operations planned by Snam in the protected area.

This model of total interaction with the stakeholders has made it possible to develop an important energy infrastructure aimed at strengthening the safety of the procurement process right across Italy, in accordance with the requirements and needs of the territories affected by its development.

Development and sustainability: Snam Rete Gas environmental restoration activities


Deciding on the route of the gas pipelines is a complex process that is based on an analysis of various alternatives in terms of environmental impact, the safety of transportation and technical and economic feasibility.

On the basis of the investigations carried out during the planning process, as well as the excavation techniques to be employed, decisions are also made as to the relocation of landfill materials, soil consolidation operations and the restoration of vegetation. More specifically, Snam ensures that the route of the gas pipelines does not interfere with existing equilibriums in terms of geology and water, and that the pipeline is isolated from phenomena that cause instability, erosion processes, and landslides. During the construction phase advanced digging and pipe-laying technologies are used that interfere as little as possible with the surrounding environment.

From the feasibility study, in which the routes are identified, through to the completion of the project, professionals from the engineering, geological, natural sciences, forestry and agronomy sectors are involved in order to optimise the technical choices.



soil bioengineering and territory restoration

The problems connected with the protection of the soil and environmental restoration and rehabilitation operations, with particular reference to Sicily and with the aid of soil bioengineering techniques, are being addressed by Parco dei Nebrodi, the University of Palermo and the AIPIN, in association with the Municipality of Sant’Agata di Militello and with the support of Snam Rete Gas. Two activities have been planned.

The first, aimed at taking stock of the situation in Sicily, a place emblematic of the emergency in Italy, took place on 20 April 2012 in Galati Mamertino, in the basin of the hydrogeologically instable area of Nebrodi, and entailed a preparatory workshop with introductory talks and a round table with the main stakeholders involved in the planning of the Sicilian territory.

The second is an international conference that will be held on 5, 6 and 7 October in S. Agata di Militello and which will comprise two days of seminars and a day viewing the work that has been carried out in Parco dei Nebrodi, particularly the work carried out by Snam Rete Gas to bolster the gas pipeline in the Nebrodi area.


In the last two years the Nebrodi zone has suffered serious hydrogeological disasters mainly as a result of the insufficient planning and maintenance of the territory. The programme of widespread intervention, implemented through the application of soil bioengineering techniques, is necessary to mitigate hydrogeological risk and to restore and rehabilitate the degraded areas.
This will take place using exclusively indigenous plant and tree species which, as well as possessing good biotechnical qualities, also contribute to maintaining and/or improving the quality of the landscape.
After more than twenty years, the S. Agata di Militello Conference will reiterate the technical and scientific commitment of the organisers to reducing hydrogeological risk, providing qualified experience from both the domestic and international arena, with particular emphasis on the Mediterranean area.


Ente Parco dei Nebrodi


Università degli Studi di Palermo

Dipartimento di Biologia ambientale e Biodiversità; Centro Interdipartimentale di ricerche sulla Interazione Tecnologia-Ambientale (CIRITA)


Associazione Italiana per l’ingegneria Naturalistica



Nebrodi Park


A volume dedicated to the Nebrodi Park opens the series “Sustainable Paths”, that stems from the intention to publicize the company’s commitment to environmental protection, vegetational and morphological restoration, the best practices that distinguish the work methods adopted by Snam.

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30 August 2016 - 16:04 CEST