Majella National Park, in Abruzzo region in Italy, plays an important role in “crop wild relatives management (CWR) and with numerous local agricultural varieties. The Park hosts more than 150 entities that have been recognised as CWR, that is wild species genetically very similar to species cultivated in agriculture. Secale triticum is an example: it is a cereal of great agronomic interest and research has been carried out for its census. This species is very rare and is one of the ancestors of cultivated rye.
The Park started the preparation of a database able to provide information on the consistency of the populations, the location, the level of risk, the morphological, genetic characteristics, etc., of the CWR species to be protected. It began an ex situ conservation path through its structures such as two botanical gardens, for the maintenance of the collections in vivo, and the bank of germplasm for seed conservation and for studies related to reproductive biology. The Park has also an agreement with a nursery for reproducing seeds and cuttings collected in the park area and marketing these varieties. Moreover, the Majella National Park is a founder of the RIBES network, a national network for ex situ conservation.
The park authority has implemented various initiatives for the development of an agriculture compatible with the aims of conservation of the Park. It has also tried to reduce the abandonment of the areas considering the integration of human activities with the natural environment. A network of “guardian” farmers has been created.