INHABIT project

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Home The INHABIT project Demonstration character of INHABIT

Demonstration character of INHABIT

A main objective of this project is the transfer to a demonstrative scale of innovative approaches, based on the use of hydro-morphological, habitat scale information, so that actual RBMPs can be integrated and next ones planned accordingly. The project will encompass two areas for intensive analysis of existing RBMPs, collection of integrative information and proposal of new management options. These areas will include four river types and both natural lakes and resevoirs. Additionally, demonstration actions will be performed in other Italian areas, where the used approaches will be supported by the genuine examples from the intensive study areas and applied to new, test conditions. This will ensure the options defined and the environmental range considered are extended to a wider WFD context.

In the test sites, for both rivers and lakes information on BQEs, water chemistry and local hydro-morphology will be collected concurrently. Such data will be obtained by applying the most updated methods to collect organism, pick up habitat information and characterise nutrient conditions, which have been developed and validated during the last years by the scientific institutions involved in the project explicitly for WFD implementation. Nonetheless, such methods and approaches have not been up to now widely and routinely applied over large areas, due to a number of reasons, especially related to the scarce resources invested and to the weak co-ordination on the national level for WFD implementation. Therefore, the urgency of bringing into practice scientifically sound schemes will be satisfied. In some cases e.g. for lake hydro-morphology, for which a national method does not exist in Italy, the demonstration character of the project will directly bring an approach totally new for Italy down to a practical application by Stakeholders. However, the only guarantee that the above described actions are successful, is the direct involvement of institutions formally devoted to monitoring, classification and management of river catchments. The project consortium was build with this in mind, with a directed selection of partners that can effectively contribute to the concrete solution of problems envisaged.

Italy geographically covers a huge range of environmental conditions. Its territory goes from the Alps to the two major Mediterranean islands. Therefore, it is obvious that the difficulties in approaching in a comparable way natural resources, including rivers and lakes, and managing socio-economic issues, will be massive. The project brings together institutions and territories very different from each other, which are nonetheless all governed by Italian rules, guidelines and hystorical constraints, and will provide a shared effort to update RBMPs of different areas according to a common view on WFD implementation. This effort will especially focus on offering alternative and innovative solutions able to cope with the huge environmental variability, both natural and induced by human activities, experienced in such complex areas as the Mediterranean and Alpine ones.
As far as classification issues are concerned, due to the need for a timely implementation of the WFD, most European countries have begun the process of revising and adapting their assessment systems, so that quality evaluations are performed according to the new International directive. In a quite complex overall picture, uncertainty in biological quality evaluations plays a relevant role because it can create an unbalanced allocation of environmental or economic resources. For this reason, any action aimed at quantifying the influence of natural factors on quality evaluations could have a relevant impact on management practices and monitoring planning. In this context, the WFD attests to the priority of contemplating the hydro-morphological features both in the selection of pristine or semi-natural sites (i.e. WFD ‘reference sites’) and as a support in the interpretation of biological information when classifying quality and defining restoration measures. The project will bring into practice two essential aspects for a reliable WFD implementation in Italy, which represent a fully innovative phase: a) an estimation of uncertainty associated to ecological status assignment and natural variabiity, at the moment entirely absent in the Italian scenario; b) hydro-morphological information will be directly related to biological state and response to pressures, higly relevant to correctly interpret any future, present and past monitoring results.