Emys Project

Helping the European Pond Turtle within the Po Piemontese Park

The European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) is one of the most charismatic endemic species of European wetlands. Unfortunately, due to the reduction of habitat and the advent of alien species, today it is in difficulty. In Italy, the species has recently been classified as Endangered (EN) in the Red List of Italian Vertebrates.

Thanks to a project financed by Fondazione Capellino, concrete actions are being undertaken for the conservation of the natural populations of Piedmont, where the species is in serious problems.

The project includes, among other things: the breeding and management of breeding specimens, the monitoring of spawning, the incubation of eggs, the housing of small tortoises in the laboratory, the breeding and rearing of the young in an external nursery, to get to the release of the animals into nature and their monitoring.

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The conservation actions of the project work in synergy with other protection programs being carried out by the Emys Piemonte Center and the Management Body of the Protected Areas of the Po Piemonte, with the following objectives:

- Reconstruction of a colony of European pond turtles that can be maintained over time in an area from which the species disappeared in historical times.

- Strengthening of a population that currently exists, but which faces critical issues.

- Conversion of an area, currently in agricultural use, into a permanent wetland area (purchase of land by the Park Authority, environmental restoration by the Life URCA project) within the SAC of the San Genuario and San Silvestro Marshes.

- Improvement of the habitat in the “Riverbanks of Palazzolo Vercellese” area, with arrangement of the terrestrial habitat as a deposition site.

The reference areas for the repopulation operations fall within the SAC Paludi di San Genuario and San Silvestro and the borders of the Piedmont Po Regional Park, in the “Riverbanks of Palazzolo Vercellese” biotopes. In both locations, habitat improvement works will be carried out.


The breeding and release program


The project involves various steps that will lead to the release into nature of several specimens of pond turtles. The various steps of the project include, among other things: the breeding and management of the reproductive specimens, the monitoring of the laying and incubation of the eggs, the housing of the small tortoises in the laboratory, the breeding and management of the young in the external nursery, release into the wild and monitoring of animals. 3/4 years of releases are expected at the Palazzolo Vercellese site, for a total of approximately 105-110 individuals, and a total of another 30-40 to be released at the S. Genuario area, in one or two years a depending on the availability of tortoises.


Partners and subjects involved


The project is organized by the Emys Piemonte Center – Eleade soc. coop. a r.l. with the contribution of the Fondazione Capellino, in collaboration with the Management Body of the Piedmontese Po Protected Areas, Villa Pallavicino Park and the Life Urca Proemys project.

Emys orbicularis
Emys orbicularis
Emys orbicularis

Project data







€ 88.000,00