There is good news for Italian wildlife according to Fulco Pratesi, president of the Italian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Despite forest fires, illegal building in protected areas, hunting and shooting, animals that were considered at risk in 1970 have multiplied and are now spread all over the country, many of them living in protected areas. The brown bear and the European lynx, which were considered extinct in Italy, have made a comeback, probably coming from Austria and Slovenia, and in 2005 tens of sightings of both these animals have been reported to the WWF. In 1970 flamingos had become a rare sight on the Italian coastal marshes but now thousands of these beautiful birds can be seem wading in the water around Sardinia, Tuscany and in the delta of the river Po. Vultures and wolves are back and even a rare deer, native of Corsica and Sardinia, can be seen again.
The return of wildlife is attributed to several factors: the reduction in the months when hunting is allowed, from nine months in 1970 to five months now, the institution of protected areas and regional and national parks where hunting is forbidden, and the increase in woodland. Today 30 per cent of Italy is covered with forest, compared with 20 per cent in 1970, because land is no longer being used for grazing domestic animals and has returned to its wild state.