The project area is characterized by high forest cover (5800 ha) mainly consisting in beech trees and scrub. Are also represented artificial reforestation and conifers dominated by spruce, larch and exotic conifers. Where morphological and pedological conditions are more favorable evolution towards stable plant communities, with a prevalence of beech, are common. Within the project area a limited extension relict population of white spruce survive in Alpe Cusogna. Pastures and grasslands play an important role for their remarkable extension too.
With regard to the land tenure aspect, the pSIC is largely state property managed by Piedmont Region. An individual private citizens owns an important areas composed by different parcels.
Val Sessera, thanks to the particular microclimatic conditions and the marginal position with respect to the Alps, hosts many species of flora and fauna unique in all the Piedmont Alps. These have found a refuge during glaciations allowing the presence of populations isolated from the main range of the species or the presence of steno-endemic populations, the most of which is the Carabo of Olimpia (Carabus olympiae).
In the site have been identified some environments of commmunity importance, such as the alluvial forests of alder (Alnus incana) and matgrass grassland with abundance and varieties of species.
The flora is very rich with about 800 entities reported, 32 of which are protected under Regional Law 32/82, 6 are listed in the Italian or regional Red List, Asplenium adulterinum is inserted in the AII. II and IV of the Habitats Directive (DH). It is also remarkable the rich variety of fungi. Among the species of Community interest, one that takes on greater value is certainly the carabo of Olympia, its beauty and its rarity led many entomologists and collectors to indiscriminately hunting up to threatening it of extinction. Among the invertebrates stands also the presence of Falkneria Camerani, one of the rarest Italiansmolluscs, and the beetle curculionidae Neoplinthus dentimanus.
The diurnal Lepidoptera are distinguished by a population consisting of a large number of species, some of which are subject to strict protection according to DH.
Concerning birds populations, 70 species are reported, 9 of which are listed in the Annex I of the D.U.: among these was the European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus), the black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and the eagle owl (Bubo bubo).
Mammals are 25 species; stand the presence of the Alpine shrew (Sorex alpinus), very rare species in the Alps of Piedmont, which is housed in a suitable environment as other east-alpine species.
Carabus olympiae, steno-endemic species of Val Sessera, lives in a very small area within forest habitats. In the last century the species was threatened with extinction by collectors, but thanks to the characteristics of the habitat in which they live, that can provide shelter and food, this insect was able to overcome the phases of the population regression.
LIFE+ is a financial instrument to support environmental policy of the European Community, adopted for the first time in 1992. The LIFE + program is divided into three major areas of action: Nature and Biodiversity, Environmental policies and government of the territory, Communication and Information.
The coupling of Carabus olympiae usually occursbetween spring and summer, from late June to early July. At this stage subjects of the opposite sex meet thanks to particular pheromonal emissions that facilitate the approach and recognition. It is often seen that couples tend to repeatedly raise and lower the elytra in a sort of pre-coupling courtship. This phenomenon was observed for the first time by Sturani (1947) in this species, but subsequently has been described in other taxa.
It's important to note that the movement of the elytra is not essential for the success of the coupling, as experienced in farms conducted in laboratory (Malausa, 1978). Moreover subjects close to coupling tend to emit aromatic secreted very similar to those produced during the pupal stage (Casale et al, 1982).
The copula, which takes place from behind, as in all other species of Carabidae, usually lasts 50 minutes (Sturani, 1947) and the adhesion of the male to the female is facilitated by the expansion of the last tarsomeres with adhesives pulvilla.
The deposition occurs later, usually after the female is fed. The female, characterized by a visibly swollen abdomen, usually digs a cell (2 cm deep with the size of 6.5 * 2.5 mm) at the beginning using its strong mandibles and subsequently by its two gonapophysis in the terminal part of the abdomen. Once the excavation is done it lays a single egg, because unlike many other species that produce more eggs within the same cell, the species Carabus olympiae it lays only one for each cell dug into the ground. After this stage, the female closes the cells with the excavated soil.
The entire period of oviposition can last more than a month with an average number of eggs laid around thirty units; the latest deposited are often infertile or give rise to abnormal larvae that are not able to complete the development cycle. This phenomenon according Malausa (1978) is related to the depletion of sperm accumulated along the genital tract of the female during mating late spring.