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D - Monitoring

After-LIFE: monitoring activities by ISPRA and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice are continuing




The environmental monitoring activities in the LIFE Lagoon Refresh area did not end with the end of the project. In order to verify the effectiveness of the implemented measures, the monitoring activities are continuing in the After-LIFE period. In March and May 2023, researchers and technicians from ISPRA and Ca' Foscari University of Venice seasonally sampled waters. Moreover, the annual samplings of macrozoobenthos and sediments were also performed during the spring survey of waters. In the meanwhile, the probes are regularly checked for maintenance activities to continuously measure salinity.

Each Partner is performing the activities scheduled in the After-LIFE Conservation PLAN, available here. The After LIFE period of LIFE Lagoon Refresh is lasting five years from the end of the project.

Monitoring activities continue over the end of the project

The LIFE Lagoon Refresh project ended on the 31st August 2022, but monitoring  activities have been continuing in the After-LIFE period of the project, to verify also during following years the effective benefits brought by ecological restoration measures adopted in.

Monitoring surveys will continue with a reduction in number of stations, frequencies and parameters, respect to those scheduled in the project. Monitoring of coastal lagoon habitat will continue, always in synergy with the other activities and networks already existing in the Venice lagoon within the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC.  Birdlife will be also monitored within existing networks, such as the IWC (International Waterbird Census) voluntary detector network, which is coordinated by ISPRA.

Expected results will be a confirmation of improvements already gained with the project. Currently, vegetation is changing depending on salinity changes, but a full development of reedbed will take more time than that of the project. We are also expecting a further growth and spread of vegetal species of low salinity, even in farther areas from the freshwater input.


Monitoring of the Habitat (1150*) Coastal lagoon after starting fresh water flow

Following the end of the morphologic and hydraulic works, and the starting of fresh water flow into the lagoon on 20th May, the monitoring activities of the project Life Lagoon Refresh have started again. All the monitoring activities of the coastal lagoon habitat, the halophytic habitats and the target bird species are proceeding with the aim of obtaining data and information useful for the verification of project objectives.

Some of the activities planned for monitoring the Coastal Lagoons habitat (1150*) have never been interrupted, in particular, the activities related to the control of salinity and the status of biological communities, such as macrophytes and macrozoobenthos, continued during conservation actions. In June 2020, instead, the monitoring of water and sediment, biodiversity and ecological status of fishing communities and species of commercial interest restarted. ISPRA and Ca' Foscari University of Venice will continue with field activities until 2021. Meanwhile in the laboratories, researchers and technicians of the two Research Institutes are already analysing the first samples collected to verify the values of the chemical-physical parameters of water. The salinity data are monitored daily to verify the diffusion of fresh water into the lagoon. Finally, new updates on the status of the Lagoon Habitat will be provided after the ongoing reed transplants.


Monitoring of avifauna after starting fresh water flow

Following the end of the hydraulic work and the starting of fresh water flow into the lagoon on 20th May, the monitoring activities of the project Life Lagoon Refresh have started again. All the monitoring activities of the coastal lagoon habitat, the halophytic habitats  and the target bird species are proceeding with the aim of obtaining data and information useful for the verification of project objectives.

ISPRA birdlife experts have therefore resumed their monitoring activities from June 2020, to verify immediately the effects of the interventions on the area. Complete results on the repopulation of the species of birds of Community interest will be achieved at the end of the monitoring activities. However, experts have already heard one of the target species of the project, the Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), hidden among the branches of the reedbed, near the structure for fresh water intake from Sile River. They also reported about Pygmy Cormorans (Microcarbo pygmaeuscleaning their plumage in the lagoon side at the intake point of fresh water, and even about young Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseusfeeding between the new morphological structures.

Monitoring of halophytic habitats



During the ante operam (before interventions) monitoring, Researchers from UNIVE-DAIS are mapping emerged  halophytic vegetation (i.e, plants which tollerate salt and temporarily tidal flooding). From April 2018, several sampling campaigns were performed on field, also through an ISPRA drone survey for detailed analysis. Researchers and technicians are now elaborating and digitalizing data to return specific thematic maps.

Monitoring action including these activities is Action D.2, which also focus on the monitoring of halophytic habitats located in the saltmarshes surrounding the freshwater input and reedbed transplantation sites. The  aim is to evaluate the variation on halophytic habitats distribution induced by the project interventions. Indeed, Scientists will perform the same activities at the end of the interventions for comparing purpose.

Monitoring of the Habitat (1150*) Coastal lagoon before conservation actions



From November 2017 to October 2018 the Monitoring of the Habitat Coastal lagoon took place in the project area, with the aim of defining the initial environmental status before interventions.

The activities, carried out within the Action D.1 included the execution of measures, sampling and analysis of different components such as water, sediment and biological communities.

Once a month, ISPRA and UNIVE-DAIS sampled water and settled particulate sediments to characterize salinity, temperature and the quality of the water column and granulometry, sedimentation rates, nutrients, carbon, and general parameters of sediments.

Sediment parameters and biotic component, with particular reference to the Biological Quality Elements (BQE) Macrophytes (macroalgae and seagrasses), Macrozoobenthos and Fish fauna, were sampled twice a year, on Spring and Autumn, by UNIVE-DAIS and ISPRA.

Finally UNIVE-DAIS mapped seagrass all around the project area. These data will be useful to estimate the transplant success by comparing states before and after the project implemetation.

ISPRA and IPROS also performed specific sampling campaigns with particular reference to salinity measures (Action A.2). Bathymetric surveys, with the aim to estimate morphological variability of shallow tidal flat induced by the project, were performed by IPROS and OOPP (Action A.2).

Researchers and technicians are now hard working to elaborate all data. Results will be soon available on the first Monitoring Report of the project!


Monitoring of Avifauna continues

Marangone minore (Microcarbo pygmeus, PALLAS, 1773

Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus, Pallas, 1773)

As expected by the monitoring actions of Life LAGOON REFRESH project, monthly bird sightings are taking place along Sile river and the Lagoon. Here you are a picture of one of the target species of the Project, the Pygmy Cormorant, the smallest cormorants in the Venice Lagoon. Relative of the Cormorant and Shag, it is a species that falls within the highest European and Italian protections. In the Venice lagoon it is very common and breeds in colony  as in the whole upper Adriatic.