INHABIT project

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Home Themes & Results Preparatory (P) RBMPs general analysis

Rivers – General analysis of RBMPs

With focus on habitat and hydromorphological aspects, the analysis of RBMPs has considered the following steps:

  • to select a sample set of national and international RBMPs;
  • to analyze spatial scale approaches adopted in river basin districts, in order to define the possible spatial units considered for planning activities;
  • to research, within the considered plans, possible references to specific measures considered for the mitigation of impacts related to habitat or hydromorphological aspects of water bodies;
  • to select two pilot areas where to analyze impacts, considered measures and problems related to classification.

For Italy, the following RBMPs were selected for analysis: Po river basin district, Sardinia, Eastern Alps, Southern Apennines and Central Apennines. In details, Po basin district and Sardinia RBMPs have been examined, together with regional institutions directly involved in INHABIT consortium, ARPA Piedmont and Sardinia Autonomous Region.
For the rest of Europe some of the British RBMPs and the Austrian RBMPs have been considered.
Results of this activities are described in details in Deliverable Pd1 (in Italian).

As result of the analysis of RBMPs, a not-homogeneous organization of Italian plans has arisen, entangling the possibility of comparing different plans. Plans are usually available online fragmented in a number of files, generally including a summary report and a set of technical annexes related to specific issues of Plans implementation. European plans show a more homogeneous organization resulting  from a strong common structuring at national level. Among the causes of this limited harmonization of RBMPs in Italy, the lack of national guidelines for RBMPs implementation and the late acceptance of WFD into national legislation can be mentioned.  Such delay has  resulted in the collection in a short period of time of all the information on water bodies included in the same river basin district, previously managed at local (regional) level. For this reason it is possible to recognize different approaches according to the different regional jurisdictions, even within the same Plan. RBMPs have been developed with reference to the old Regional Water Protection Plans, now abandoned and not fully WFD compliant.

Worth of note for Italian RBMPs is lack of specific measures for mitigation of hydromorphological impacts or habitat alteration to be applied on water bodies and artificial lakes. The need for a clear definition of uncertainty in biological classification of water bodies is also prevailing. This aspect, commonly overlooked in Italian RBMPs, has a critical importance for a precise definition of water bodies ecological quality with relevant consequences on management processes. The evaluation of the level of uncertainty related to biological methods and to natural variability of biological metrics will play a key role. For this aspect, it is recognized how biotic communities respond to pressures induced by both natural and anthropogenic impacts by modifying their structure and distribution. For this reason natural variables can have a strong influence on response of biological metrics, based on community composition, also exerting an ‘hiding effect’ on anthropic stresses. For a proper estimation of anthropic impacts it is thus necessary to remove the amount of uncertainty determined by natural aspects, in order to refine quality  assessment of water bodies.