The WaterLANDS project
The WaterLANDS project
December 2021 saw the launch of the European WaterLANDS project, an ambitious and innovative initiative within the European New Green Deal, to contribute to the regeneration of Europe's wetlands in six different countries: Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Estonia, Bulgaria and Italy. WaterLANDS, a project that aims to provide 'water-based solutions for people, the natural environment and carbon storage', has a planned duration of five years and involves thirty-two organisations from research, industry, government and the third sector from fourteen countries. The project received EUR 23 million in funding through the EU Horizon 2020 programme.
Over its duration, the project aims not only to conduct large-scale ecological restoration of Europe's wetlands, but also to provide models of good practice that can be applied elsewhere. Activities are planned to stimulate the curiosity and participation of citizens as well as key economic and political 'stakeholders'. In fact, one of the project's fundamental objectives is to achieve a better understanding of the benefits of natural restoration on the part of local communities, so that they become the main actors.
In Italy, the area of intervention will be the Venice Lagoon
In Italy, the area of intervention will be the Venice Lagoon, which, at 550 km2, is the largest coastal wetland in the country. The Lagoon is a complex environment, consisting of water, islands, salt marshes and segments of muddy land that are regularly submerged by water, but it is also historically characterised by centuries of maintenance and adaptation for port activities. In fact, its conformation has been transformed and maintained by human intervention over the course of more than a thousand years, and since 1987 Venice with its lagoon has been included among the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The contemporary challenges of this environment are the massive loss of salt marshes, constant erosion of the seabed, and a net loss of sediment tide after tide, year after year.
We are here Venice is the main Italian partner of WaterLANDS together with Ca' Foscari University. In particular, the regeneration of the lagoon environment promoted by WahV, in tune with the Vital initiative, will not only focus on the morphological aspects of the lagoon system, but also and above all on those associated with its ecological functions, with specific attention to the characteristic flora of the salt marshes and its variety and distribution, so that it can return to a natural level of resilience. Interested parties (or stakeholders), as well as lagoon residents, will also be involved in the decision-making and planning process - co-creation and co-design - of the restoration activities of the various degraded areas, so as to promote greater awareness of the value of the Lagoon. Through citizen science activities, in collaboration with Wageningen University, the project aims at the increasingly widespread dissemination of the scientific knowledge necessary for citizens to be vigilant and active in taking care of the common good, both natural and cultural, so that future generations can also benefit from it.