Preparatory project phase (P) – Review of approaches and methods, selection of methods, protocols and study sites

INHABIT project

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Preparatory project phase (P) – Review of approaches and methods, selection of methods, protocols and study sites

This action group includes two clusters of issues for investigation, the first of which dealing with the review of approaches and methods used in the preparation of river basin plans in the study areas. In this context, a review of large and local-scale monitoring approaches and methods in use in Italy to derive information for preparing WFD river basin management plans, as far as classification issues are concerned, will be performed. More in detail, an analysis of WFD catchment management plans presented at December 2009 by appropriate Authorities for the study areas and collation of classification and programmes of measures information, will be performed. Since management plans for the WFD must be based on classification data derived according to a type specific approach, national typological approach and adaptations to the local scale, if any, will be screened and summarized. Accordingly, due to the EQR approach introduced by the WFD, criteria for reference site selection adopted by the management plans under investigation will be compared to those agreed on the European level (e.g. during the WFD Intercalibration exercise). Based on the overall information derived during the above listed activities, reference sites for field investigation will be selected. The full list of official water bodies present in the study area will be provided. Finally, based on the analysis of management plans, typology approach and distribution of water bodies in the catchment, a list of degraded sites for field investigation will be compiled.
The second cluster of issues mainly deals with the selection of methods and protocols to be used during the project. Special focus will be placed on the selection of suitable methods for deriving hydro-morphological and habitat information, to be used in the project to improve the implementation potential of WFD management plans. These aspects are at the moment the less studied in Italy and in depth analyses and methodological setting are needed. An overview of the methods currently used in Europe will be provided as well as of the methods presently available for use in Italy. One of the objectives is to have a list of hydromorphological and habitat features to be recorded (and derived indices), whose presence and extension can be related to biological communities and nutrients availability. For selecting the appropriate methods, the CEN standards under discussion and the WFD requirements will be taken into account. As an outcome, guidelines and field protocols to be applied in the project for deriving hydro-morphological information will be compiled. Additionally, methods suitable for deriving nutrient-related information to be used in the project in relation to WFD management plans implementation will be selected and corresponding guidelines and field protocols prepared. Guidelines and field protocols to be applied in the project for deriving hydromorphological and habitat information as well as Guidelines and field protocols for deriving nutrient-related information will be prepared in Italian. We have to keep in mind that in some parts of Italy (especially in the South) the knowledge of the English language is not widespread. Nonetheless, an extended summary in English will be included in all Deliverables. If requested, some selected Deliverables can be prepared in English too.
The actions of this group will concentrate on both rivers and lakes, for the study areas selected.
The Action Group also aims at creating a common basis for the implementation of further actions of the project, so that harmonised information on core variables is derived for all areas. Final selection of reference and degraded sites for field investigation in each study area is under responsibility of CNR-IRSA (rivers) and CNR-ISE (lakes).

Methods employed
The preparation of the river basin management plans by 2009 for WFD implementation had to be based on pressure analysis, monitoring strategies, sampling methods and overall approaches able to fulfil normative definitions. Therefore, at a general level existing information have already been revised. Nonetheless, when looking at a wider perspective i.e. national or international, and searching for recent scientific results e.g. as an output from the WFD Intercalibration process, many steps in the definition of management plans can be assumed to require a revision. The review of the presented management plans, performed in a matched way by the project beneficiaries for the different areas, together with an agreed outline of methods and approaches, will guarantee that new data collected and measures proposed properly fit with plans factual and sound improvement.
In general terms, the analyses performed during the preparation of reports and Deliverables, will be conducted applying standard statistical procedures and by using the usual visualisation techniques like graphs and maps, with the aim of making them easy to replicate afterwards for other catchments and by other Institutions. Not necessarily all analyses will be conducted solely by the beneficiary responsible for the transmission of the project Deliverable. At any rate, such beneficiary will strive for optimal syntheses of his own results with those obtained by other beneficiaries. Reports prepared by individual partners to be merged and integrated by the responsible beneficiary will be submitted two months before the deadline for the presentation of the relevant project Deliverable.

Obtained results

  • Rivers – General analysis of RBMPs
    The first aim of this activity was to analyze how habitat information is considered within RBMPs. Information included into RBMPs have been used as guidelines for the selection of INHABIT study areas.
  • Rivers – Study areas selection
    Project activities have been carried out in Sardinia and Piedmont. Through data collection from these two areas, a wide geographic and climatic gradient, from Alps to Mediterranean sea was characterized.
  • Guidelines and field protocols for deriving habitat information
    INHABIT project activity is closely linked to the interpretation of environmental processes influencing ecological status. Among the steps of the Preparation activities, information on available habitat survey methods in freshwaters, with reference to WFD requirements, has been collected.
  • Lakes – results P
    The actions planned and developed for lakes within the preparatory activities (group P), have followed very closely the actions, analyzes and approaches followed for rivers. We evaluated the Management Plans of Region Sardinia and the Po River Basin Authority, in order to assess the considered information about the hydro-morphology and lacustrine habitats, as well as with respect to the interconnections between biocoenoses and the hydromorphological characteristics. We then selected study areas on which to develop further activities of the project according to specific criteria, and chose methods of analysis and sampling methods for the collection of information on hydromorphology, habitat, biology and chemistry, in line with the requirements of the WFD.


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