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An integrated approach to the sustainable conservation of intertidal salt marshes in the lagoon of Venice (LIFE VIMINE)
Date du début: 2 sept. 2013, Date de fin: 1 sept. 2017 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background Erosion from human and natural causes is intensely impacting the whole Venice lagoon. A progressive deterioration of boundaries, elevations, bottoms and vegetated surfaces is impacting all tidal landforms, and the surface of salt marshes has markedly decreased over recent decades. Even the most interior, best-conserved salt marshes are highly affected and these unique ecosystems providing key eco-services are disappearing. The causes of erosion are linked to the current models of development and lifestyles, such as waves caused by motorboats and the altered lagoon hydrodynamics resulting from the excavation of deep channels for large ships. Since it is not feasible to act upon these factors in the short term to stop erosion, effective actions to protect the salt marshes are urgently needed, taking into consideration also that current methods to combat coastal erosion cannot be applied in the interior salt marshes. Objectives This LIFE VIMINE project aims to demonstrate an integrated approach to the conservation of interior salt marshes based on prevention through routine, temporally-continuous and spatially-diffuse actions of monitoring and maintenance, as opposed to one-off protection actions. The regular identification and repair of the small, numerous eroded spots on salt marsh boundaries will be carried out to stop erosion before it becomes irreversible, using low-impact soil bioengineering works (e.g. fascines) and manual labour. This cost-effective method will be merged with participatory processes to involve stakeholders in conservation works, increase environmental awareness and promote sustainable local economic activities based on salt marsh services. Eventually, the demand for salt marsh conservation will emerge naturally from local communities given the key benefits that they will derive from salt marsh services and from conservation activities (employment), thus addressing also the socio-economic drivers of erosion. Expected results: Creation of a permanent working group including project beneficiaries, subcontractors, local institutions and stakeholders, led by a participation expert, to manage all the participatory processes during the project; Removal of accumulated waste from lagoon sites selected to perform plantation and reforestation activities and creation of a short supply chain of wooden material; Protection from erosion of the most interior, ecologically-valuable salt marshes, using diffuse low-impact soil bioengineering works (total protected surface of some 270 000 m2, whose external boundaries cover some 7 500 m); Integration of soil bioengineering works with other experimental protections (100 m of groynes, 500 m wind barriers) contrasting the current trend of flattening the lagoon beds, to favour the development of ecological niches and increase the local abundance of valuable fishing resources; Continuous surveillance and maintenance over the project lifetime of the salt marshes in the project area; Local employment growth in the Laghi-Dese wetland, hiring local workers in the environmental sector for some 1 480 person-days (450 for sustainable conservation-related activities, 746 for laying of fascines, 284 for maintenance works); Education of ship owners to respect speed limits and safe routes to avoid damaging salt marshes; Raised awareness of the erosion problem amongst the local communities of this isolated rural area, and indirect stimulation of socio-economic activities related to conservation; Evaluation of the economic feasibility and sustainability of employing the low-impact soil bioengineering conservation techniques, including the value of protected ecosystem services; Creation of a wide multidisciplinary dataset (Free-Time Bank, GIS field actions database, data and photographic records, Biodiversity Atlas, Social Map of fishermen's priorities); Establishment of the Landscape and Biodiversity Observatory; and Implementation of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism process.


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