Problems and Purpose
The participatory process "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" it was promoted with the aim of actively involving all the residents of the Vecchiano area , to identify shared strategies for the environmental and social redevelopment and enhancement of the “La Bufalina” nature reserve. This theme was placed at the center of the participatory process for multiple reasons:
· Awareness that the nature reserve is an asset of the territory, owned by the municipality, belonging to the very identity of the community, but little known by the citizens;
· Naturalistic value of the Reserve, from the point of view of bio-diversity and landscape-environmental richness, with particular reference to the protection of the Fratino - a species of bird in danger of extinction - and the dune ecosystem of the coast;
· Improper use of the area, affected by both swinging and voyeurism phenomena and by petty crime linked to drug dealing, with consequent compromise of the safety of the place.
Alongside this primary purpose, the project pursues a more general purpose: to encourage citizens to play a leading role, in the belief that " the very effectiveness of the policies conducted by the institutions must and can be based on the enhancement of knowledge and experiences widespread in society, on the ability of the institutions to activate a broad comparison with citizens, with social forces, with the skills and ideas present in the social fabric ”.
Background History and Context
The La Bufalina Reserve is part of the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Natural Park and extends for 48 hectares, set in the coast of Marina di Vecchiano up to the edge of Torre del Lago. It is an oriented nature reserve , which includes both the beach is the back dune belt, up to the border with the woodland.
La Bufalina is appreciated for its extraordinary landscape, environmental and panoramic value: for this reason it is recognized as a site of considerable public interest with the Ministerial Decree of 10.04.1952, as well as declared by UNESCO as a natural heritage of humanity.
The dunes constitute an ecosystem rich in biodiversity - of particular value for the ornithological richness - and represent one of the most threatened natural environments in the world.
The participatory process "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" it was part of the municipal administration program, committed - through the Executive Management Plan - to the enhancement of the territory and, in particular, of the Vecchianese navy. In fact, even in the mandate program and in the three-year programmatic plan, the Municipality had undertaken the commitment to promote the area from the point of view of the " social use of the beach " and " eco-compatible tourism development " .
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The participatory process "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" was promoted by the Municipality of Vecchiano and candidate for funding from the Tuscany Region, pursuant to Law 46/2013. In the first months of 2014, the project idea was presented, during a joint meeting, to the five councils of the hamlet (Vecchiano, Avane, Filettole, Migliarino and Nodica). After initial perplexities, the councilors supported the project, contributing to its realization. In addition, the following have joined and collaborated: the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Regional Park Authority and the environmental associations of the territory, namely WWF of Pisa, Legambiente Pisa, Legambiente Versilia, LIPU Massaciuccoli.
The Regional Authority for the Guarantee and Promotion of Participation (APP), with resolution no. 5 of 23 September 2014, granted the project a loan of 16,000 euros gross , to which were added 4,000 euros made available by the Municipality of Vecchiano. The overall budget was therefore 20,000 euros gross.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The selection of the participants was of a targeted type, i.e. an attempt was made to trace, through outreach operations, the various interests that could contribute to addressing the many problems to be solved for the requalification and environmental and social enhancement of the Reserve. In particular, the participatory process made use of :
· Mapping of stakeholders and privileged witnesses of the territory to be involved in the participatory process: for this reason 5 meetings were held;
Reconstruction - through the historical memory of the community of Vecchiano - of the city struggle path, which led to the establishment of the current Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Natural Park Authority: to this end, 7 in-depth interviews and 2 focuses were carried out group ;
· Outreach activities: 5 "listening poles" have been set up, located in the individual hamlets, with the dual purpose of informing and listening to citizens;
· Information / training tools, including the Guide for the participant on the environmental and social enhancement of the La Bufalina Reserve, the information leaflets and about 400 postcards, distributed to the tourist-receptive structures of Vecchiano and to the associations participating in the project;
· Communication campaign: mailing list made up of 247 contacts, for sending information material and the calendar of appointments; dissemination and publication of the events within the portal Open Toscana Partecipa and the Facebook profile “Do you know what the Bufalina reserves for us”; preparation of a dedicated space on the website of the Municipality of Vecchiano and on the “Vecchiano Culture and Tourism” portal; advertising through the Facebook pages of the Municipality of Vecchiano and of the member associations; creation of press releases, both for print media and for the online magazine La Voce del Serchio;
· Organization of the "Cleaning day of Bocca di Serchio and the Riserva della Bufalina": this is a customary appointment, which has been extended to the Riserva, also in order to inform the participants about the project "You know what we ... Riserva ... La Bufalina ? ";
· Public meeting for the presentation of the participatory path: it was held on 30.04.2015 in Migliarino (Vecchiano), at the New Social and Health Center. Following the institutional greetings, the 50 participants were divided into 5 groups, where they had the opportunity to discuss the topic of the project.
Methods and Tools Used
The methodological approaches adopted were many:
· Constitution of the project group , with inclusive modalities, integrating the competences and functions of the Municipality and the Park Authority, to guarantee an intersectoral approach of policies and actions;
· Mapping of stakeholders , which made it possible to identify the actors potentially interested;
· Interviews and focus groups with stakeholders and privileged witnesses of the territory, holders of historical memory;
· “Listening pole” outreach method;
· Bicycle ride with participatory walking;
· Didactic workshops with the schoolchildren of the Comprehensive Institute “D. Settesoldi ”of Vecchiano;
· Participatory maintenance site: the participants followed the carrying out of small maintenance interventions at the Reserve and monitored the state of the paths and walkways in the area;
· Participatory planning conducted with the methodology of GOPP ( Goal Oriented Project Planning ).
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The participatory experience "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" it is characterized by a high degree of structuring. The process was divided into phases and had pre-established times and methods. Specifically, it was divided into four phases:
Phase 1 - preparation : took place in the period between February 16 and March 31, 2015 and involved a series of preparatory activities, including setting up the Project Group, mapping the stakeholders and preparing websites functional to the communication campaign;
Phase 2 - the rediscovery : between 1 April and 16 May 2015, events were promoted to inform citizens, to discover / rediscover the environmental and historical value of the La Bufalina Reserve and to collect the names of those interested in being active participants;
· Phase 3 - conception : in the interval between 17 May and 14 June 2015, two workshops were held, during which citizens met to jointly elaborate interventions and strategies for the redevelopment of the reserve;
Phase 4 - the commitment : from 1 September to 14 October 2015, the completion and closing activities of the participatory path were carried out, such as, for example, the campaign in favor of Fratino, conducted in the schools of the Municipality of Vecchiano, the "WWF Walk" to the Reserve, the "Clean Up the World 2015" initiative and, finally, the presentation of the Final Document - containing the indications that emerged from the participatory process - in the session open to the public of the Municipal Council of Vecchiano, on 30 October 2015 .
In addition, a subsequent post-project phase must be added, aimed at monitoring and forecasting environmental education activities.
In particular, as regards the topics covered during the participatory process, the first workshop (May 16, 2015) was dedicated to the theme of environmental enhancement and redevelopment of the La Bufalina Reserve; the second (8 June 2015), on the other hand, focused on the social enhancement of the Reserve. Both saw the participation of 30 people, divided into two groups, facilitated by the consultants of the project.
Among the indications proposed for environmental enhancement and redevelopment , we can mention:
· Zoning of the La Bufalina Reserve in areas with different levels of intensity of restriction and access, in relation to the environmental characteristics;
· Adaptation and maintenance of wooden walkways;
· Creation of observation points of the dunes, of the ornithological richness and of the nesting of the Fratino;
· Construction of rest and refreshment facilities for visitors in the area;
· Care and maintenance of the cleaning of the whole area;
· Strengthening of the control and sanctioning systems for offenders.
In relation to the theme of social enhancement and requalification , the participants indicated the following actions :
· Intensification of the action of all the institutional subjects obliged by law to guarantee the social security of the whole area;
Improvement of the access conditions to the area, by:
o the creation of pedestrian and cycle paths, which allow you to reach the Reserve safely;
o dialogue with private owners present in the areas concerned, so that they allow the crossing of their properties;
o the forecast of bus trips throughout the year to reach the Bufalina and the intensification of the shuttle bus service in the summer season.
During the conception phase, further indications for the promotion of eco-sustainable tourism also emerged, for example:
· Affixing to the signs indicating "Marina di Vecchiano", the indication "Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Natural Park - Natural Reserve Areas: La Bufalina and Bocca di Serchio";
· Positioning of information boards, inviting respect for the area, thanks to the “good visitor” rules;
· Incentives for opportunities for guided visits and environmental education initiatives;
· Creation of a visitor center / museum space in Migliarino;
· Advertising of the Riserva La Bufalina with leaflets and information guides to be distributed in the commercial and restaurant activities of Marina di Vecchiano.
As regards the amount of participation , the process involved a variable number of citizens, with peaks of around 100 people. The greatest interest was registered during the visits organized to the Reserve. Specifically, 32 participants proved to be particularly active, who dynamically lived the path from start to finish, also contributing to the elaboration of the final Document.
The degree of satisfaction of the participants emerges above all from the second questionnaire, at the end of the course (administered to the 32 active participants and returned by 25 citizens). 92% declare that they felt free to express their opinion, 72% believe that everyone's points of view emerged during the meetings. The degree of satisfaction is such that 84% would participate again in a participatory process similar to the one experienced, even on another theme, and would advise an acquaintance to do so. Participants also declared themselves satisfied with the climate in which the meetings took place: 72% found it very good, 24% optimal and only 4% fair.
The entire path made use of the expertise of facilitators, i.e. professionals, experts in participation, specialized in managing small groups and in encouraging interaction between people. Specifically, the Interactive Community-Workshop for Participation company was commissioned, with offices in Massa (LU) and Bologna. From the table of costs incurred for the project "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?", Contained in the Final Report, it appears that for the item "External consultancy and / or assignment of services", € 12,378.84 were used (on a total budget of 20,000 euros), of which 10,950 to be paid by the Regional Authority for Participation and 1,428.84 made available by the Municipality of Vecchiano.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The participatory process "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" had the merit of defining the cognitive framework of the Reserve, the reference scenario to aim for and the actions necessary to achieve the environmental and social requalification objectives identified. It also allowed active citizens to reflect on the importance of the endogenous resources (environmental, economic and social) of the Reserve and to rediscover the value of an area of extreme beauty, to be safeguarded also in order to restore the correct functioning of the ecological networks of the entire Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Park; no less important, finally, was the transmission of the historical memory of the community, which led to the discovery / rediscovery that the defense of the coastal dunes from the subdivision was a conquest of the community.
In this sense, the final Document, containing the indications that emerged from the Path, can be considered one of the most significant results achieved. The City Council approved the accepted indications, with Resolution no. 49 of 30.10.2015, concerning: participatory project LR 46/2013 "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" - guidelines - approval.
From the news disseminated in the local press it is clear that: “ the Municipal Administration, through the guidelines, expects to continue the requalification of the Bufalina area with a series of targeted actions. First of all, it intends to promote a meeting with the citizens and associations that are protagonists of the participatory process in order to set up a subject (committee or association for social promotion) to support the plan of interventions in the area. This body will be called upon to collaborate with environmental associations for the maintenance of the Bufalina Reserve. The guidelines also provide for the promotion of all interested parties, including the Municipal Administration of Vecchiano, at the Park Authority for the construction of a visitor center and a museum space, in the portion of its property, at the former cereal warehouse in Migliarino. Finally, among the other contents, we recall the strengthening of the security measures agreed with the Prefect of Pisa and the Police and the continuation of the work already started with the municipal school complexes, continuing to collaborate with pupils and teachers, in order to create further information and illustrative material on the reserve ".
To date, however, it does not appear that the planned museum / visitor center has been built. In December 2015, however, an experimental environmental education project was proposed, promoted by some teachers of the comprehensive institute “D. Settesoldi ”of Vecchiano. Furthermore, on 24 November 2015, the installation of the Monitoring Group took place, made up of 12 volunteers, belonging to all the active participants in the participatory path. They had the task of operating for the period of one year from the end of the path, both on the monitoring side in the strict sense - so that the municipal administration could carry out the accepted indications - and on the community side - to stimulate the active citizens themselves to carry out the actions indicated, which can be carried out in self-management and self-organization. To date, no specific information is available on the web about the results achieved by the Monitoring Group; also from the social networks (in particular from the Facebook page dedicated to the project)  it emerges that the latest updates on the participatory path "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" date back to 2015. There is also no certain information on the actual establishment of an Association / Committee for La Bufalina.
It should be remembered that even the Park Authority, although not committed to implementing the indications that emerged to the same extent as the Municipal Administration, had expressed its willingness to take into account the requests of citizens, in the context of the revision / updating of the Management of the Migliarino Estate and the Vecchiano Farm. However, by consulting the institutional website of the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Park, it appears that the latest management plan of the Migliarino Estate and Fattoria di Vecchiano was approved by Resolution of the Park's Board of Directors no. 360 of 24.12.1997 and amended with Resolution no. 215/8 of 13.09.1999 .
Among the results achieved, the ability demonstrated by the participatory path to stimulate new social networks deserves particular mention, in particular by spreading awareness for the environmental and social enhancement of the Reserve, not only among environmental associations - which have always been attentive to the issue - but also among the cultural and social ones of the territory.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The participatory process "Do you know what we ... Reserve ... La Bufalina?" , regardless of the actions that have been or will actually be carried out by the institutions, it has probably favored the creation of a shared vision, as well as a planning capacity coming from below, with the common aim of enhancing their territory by all the stakeholders involved; this was presumably possible by creating or restoring a sense of community, capable of increasing the responsibility and attention of all for the management and enhancement of a common good, such as the La Bufalina nature reserve.
All this could constitute an important wealth of knowledge and experience for the future, with a view to sustainable and integrated management of the entire Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Park.
The benefits of such a path can therefore go well beyond the specific issues on the agenda at the moment; in other words, regardless of the results, the effort made seems to proceed in the direction of increasing the civic sense and spreading the culture of participation, making citizens more attentive, aware and also more active within the public sphere. “ All this will contribute to improving the quality of life of the local community, in a process of learning and empowerment ” , both for citizens and public officials.
 The reference area involved in the participatory process includes the Municipalities of Vecchiano, Avane, Migliarino, Nodica and Filettole. Some citizens of Torre del Lago (Municipality of Viareggio, LU), which borders the La Bufalina Nature Reserve, also participated.
 Accompanying report to the law proposal "Regional public debate and promotion of participation in the elaboration of local and regional policies" (Law 46/2013), available at the web address: http: //www.regione.toscana. it / documents / 10180/71354 / Report + on the + law + 46 + 2013 / 93aa2f44-241a-4aa2-8df4-fa658f198f08
 " Human work only serves to direct natural evolution towards environmental reorganization and the restoration of the balance altered by man ". Source: Guide to the workshop on Saturday 16 May, available at the web address: http://open.toscana.it/documents/44379/0/Guida+del+partecipante+al+1%C2%B0+workshop/1445f4a4- 6ab4-4876-bc43-8523728616d6
 Source: Final report “Do you know what we… Reserve… La Bufalina?”, 2015, p. 6.
 The initial project provided for funding of € 25,600 gross.
 For more detailed information, see: Final report “Do you know what we… Reserve… La Bufalina?”, 2015, p. 11.
 The Project Group is made up of: officials from the Social Policies, Culture and Relations with the Park Authority and the Tourism sector; referents of the supporters of the project: Migliarino-san Rossore-Massaciuccoli Regional Park Authority; WWF Pisa, Legambiente Pisa, Legambiente Versilia, LIPU - Oasi Massaciuccoli; Presidents of the 5 District Councils of the Municipality of Vecchiano: Migliarino, Nodica, Avane and Filettole; consultants in charge of coordinating and facilitating the participatory process. The project team met 3 times, at the beginning of each project phase.
 Source: http://www.comune.vecchiano.pi.it/comunicati-stampa/1242-progetto-partecipativo-sulla-bufalina [last accessed 09/09/2018].
 See:https://www.facebook.com/Sai-cosa-ci-Riserva-la-Bufalina-661263154001298/ [last accessed 09/09/2018].
 See: http://www.parcosanrossore.org/pagina.php?id=235 [last accessed 09/09/2018].
 Source: Final report “Do you know what we… Reserve… La Bufalina?”, 2015, p. 9.case_body_placeholder
Most of the information contained in this item comes from information material, reports and the final report, edited by the company Interactive Communities-Workshop for Participation, as well as from the news spread by local online newspapers and institutional websites. .