608 Sara Ariano

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Published on January 9, 2008

Author: Biaggia

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Wetlands, territory and risks: a geographical approach to risk analysis in the Po Delta (Italy):  Wetlands, territory and risks: a geographical approach to risk analysis in the Po Delta (Italy) 2006 - SRA Conference, Ljubljana Conference topic: Social contexts and responses to risk Sara ARIANO Università degli Studi di Padova, Université Paris Sorbonne - Paris IV sara.ariano@unipd.it Summary:  Summary A geography of risk Wetlands functions; Man and wetlands Case study: Po Delta - Veneto (Italy) The study First results: main risks, societies, perceptions Some conclusions: risks and territory A geography of risk:  A geography of risk GEOGRAPHY provides theoretical and technical instruments for the analysis of territorial processes. e.g.: theories of territorialisation, geography of complexity; spatial analysis, GIS RISK: is linked to specific territorial features influences the construction and evolution of territory is inscribed in environment, has specific spatial features is also a matter of scale What is “wetland”?:  What is “wetland”? "Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres" (Article 1.1). In addition Ramsar sites "may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands" (Article 2.1). (Ramsar convention, 1971) RISK MANAGEMENT Economical Ecological Social Cultural Technical WETLANDS: FUNCTIONS and VALUES Wetlands functions and risk mitigation:  Wetlands functions and risk mitigation HYDROLOGICAL FUNCTIONS:  flooding risk mitigation wetlands act as retention basins  water storage wetlands can assure water supply and maintain surface water flow in periods of droughts BIOCHEMICAL FUNCTIONS : improving water quality= phytodepuration retention or transformation of some polluting substances and nutrients (from the use of chemical fertilizer); filtration process is especially due to abundant wetland vegetation Man and wetlands:  Man and wetlands For a long time wetlands have been undervalued and despised as unhealthy and unproductive spaces Recent “passion” for wetlands: the opinion on wetlands has changed amongst scientists and society in general. Wetlands conservation as a primary issue for biodiversity and sustainable development But sometimes wetlands are still considered as wastelands… Case Study: Po Delta – Veneto (Italy):  Case Study: Po Delta – Veneto (Italy) Between two administrative regions: Veneto and Emilia-Romagna A Regional Park, since 1997 Protected area = 12.592 ha The study (work in progress…):  The study (work in progress…) PhD work (thesis defense: 2007-8) on Po river Delta FIRST PROJECT OF WORK: Objectives: Evaluating the integration of wetlands in risk management plans Comparing people’s perceptions of wetlands and risk with management plans Methodology: Collecting bibliography, documents, plans and laws Fieldwork study: interviews, schedules  collecting and elaborating data Comparing management plans and people’s perception Hypothesis: - People’s perception: Undervaluation of functions of wetlands, especially about risk prevention Undervaluation of risks - Risk management plans: towards an integration of wetlands A suspended river:  A suspended river Po river embankment: normal flood level is higher than ground level Villages are often next to the embankment; increasing vulnerability Drainage and subsidence:  In Po Delta, ground level is under sea-level (average: –2 / -3 m) In order to keep reclaimed lands dry, water-scooping machines have to be used continuously Subsidence, mainly due to extraction of methane until the Sixties Drainage and subsidence The evident crisis: droughts:  The evident crisis: droughts 3 severe droughts in the last 4 years: 2003, 2005, 2006 25 july 2006: the lowest hydrometric level for Po river water flow = 180 m3/s; (measured at Pontelagoscuro station) Salt water intrusion, up to 20 km from coast line Evident effects in the Delta: agriculture: rice cultures destroyed, corn and horticulture damaged no potable water for 15.000 inhabitants Photo: La nuova ecologia, august 11th, 2006 Superposition of land uses:  Superposition of land uses New projects for the Delta:  Photo: The thermoelectric power plant of Polesine Camerini New projects for the Delta New industrial zone at Cà Cappello (Porto Viro) Natural park or energy park? Management Plans (PAI Delta):  Management Plans (PAI Delta) Autorita' di Bacino del fiume Po, Progetto di Piano stralcio per l'Assetto Idrogeologico del Delta (PAI-Delta), 2001. Tab. 5: Levels of danger First results:  First results Identification of main risks: - Flooding risk - Droughts - Pollutions Management Plans: Based on simple calculations of flood level Delta separated from the rest of catchment area Wetlands’ integration in Risk Management: extremely marginal Fieldwork study, interviews to main local actors: institutions, economy, population No risk at all! (maybe just droughts…) Thanks to technology: we trust on new embankments Wetlands? Risks and reactions:  Risks and reactions Wetlands as laboratories of risk:  Wetlands as laboratories of risk Risk as an element of a territorial system: it results from the relationship between man and the environment, in a specific territorial context. Wetlands as “laboratory” to analyse the territorial dimension of risk: dynamic, quickly changing environment concentration of fluxes and relationships of actors wetlands role in risk prevention linked to the choices of human societies, according to people’s perception wetland properties in risk prevention: eliminating wetlands increasing vulnerability “Natural hazard” or “territorial risk” ?:  Po Delta is a complex territory, resulting from the interaction of human societies (both local and foreign) and a changing environment “Natural hazard” or “territorial risk” ? Technical representations of natural hazard, based on calculations of flood level, cannot completely explain a complex risky territorial context: vulnerability is increased by human behavior, linked to cultural, social and historical factors Bonifica (reclaimed lands) trust in human ability to control and “organize” nature Thanks for your attention:  Thanks for your attention Sara ARIANO sara.ariano@unipd.it Co-tutored PhD : Università degli Studi di Padova, Dipartimento di Geografia “G.Morandini” Université Paris Sorbonne - Paris IV UMR “Espaces, Nature et Culture”

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