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You are here:HomeNews The Final Conference: Five years of Project, Up to One thousand liters per second of freshwater in Venice Lagoon and first positive effects in the lagoon environment

The Final Conference: Five years of Project, Up to One thousand liters per second of freshwater in Venice Lagoon and first positive effects in the lagoon environment


The LIFE Lagoon Refresh project, which provides the return of a freshwater input from the Sile River to the Venice Lagoon, is going to be finished. After five years, on 7th July 2022, the Final Conference was held at University Ca’ Foscari of Venice. During the conference, the project’s staff presented the conservative actions and results from monitoring actions. It was also an opportunity to talk about environmental quality and lagoon restoring with stakeholders , Water managers, Authorities and Institutions, which work in transitional waters.

Thanks to the hydraulic work, the Sile River is again flowing with its freshwater into the lagoon with an inflow of 1000 l/s, while the morphological structures of biodegradable materials ensure the maintenance of the salinity gradient created in the project area. Before interventions the area had values of more than 30 of salinity, while today values are lower than 5 in 5 ha, below 15 in 25 ha and below 25 in 70 ha.

Despite of several difficulties during the project, such as the “Acqua Granda” (high water in Venetian dialect) of November 2019 and COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, waters from Sile Rivers started to flow into the lagoon with their maximum flow since February 2021. Monitoring activities detected first signals and changes in all the biologic communities as responses to variation of salinity in the area.

During the four years of monitoring surveys, more than 32,637 birds were censed in the project area. One hundred and twenty-eight species were detected, and among these sixty-two were waterfowl. Ornithologists have observed changes in composition and abundances of several bird species since 2018. That is a clear signal of biological response to changes in salinity of waters.

Regarding fish fauna, with the freshwater inflow, researchers observed a quality change, mostly at sites closer to the Sile river input, such as the presence of typical species of brackish environments. We are now looking at a significant increase of Pomatoschistus canestrinii and Knipowitschia panizzae, which are species of Community interest, as well as an increase of juveniles of the commercial species Chelon ramada and C. auratus.  These last two species usually enter the lagoon in late autumn and/or early spring, using brackish waters as a nursery area. Generally, the Ecological quality status of fish fauna has improved.

Transplant activities of reedbed and phanerogams occurred in the area, thanks to the involvement of stakeholders, such as fishermen, which were previously properly trained to became transplanters.

In the area next to freshwater input, vegetation has changed progressively in the saltmarshes, with advantages for reedbed. It is now slowly growing thanks both to transplantations and to seedling from plants themselves. Despite it is too early to assess well-developed populations, reedbed is growing quite well where salinity is suitable for it.

Halophytic vegetation showed a clear change on September-October 2021 with an extraordinary bloom of Aster tripolium. More recently on June 2022, Inula crithmoides increased colouring in yellow the edge of saltmarshes, where salinity is lowering. Other variations regarded an increase of Juncus and Spartina.

In addition, aquatic phanerogams (Zostera marina, Z. noltei, Ruppia cirrhosa) also showed very good results, with creation of areas of several meters of diameter as results of several clumps transplantations.

However, to assess quantitatively results, we need more time. Indeed, as observed in LIFE Seresto biological times are longer than 3-4 years from transplants to show evidences.

All beneficiary partners were involved in Transferability and Dissemination actions. By the former, 6 sites were involved through meetings and visits on field, with the aim of replicate what we have done in Venice lagoon to other transitional waters. We also organized two training courses to recognize avifauna and to take naturalistic pictures; we involved 1000 students from primary to high school, as well as students from universities of Padua and Venice, by seminars, webinars, field trips, and practical activities.

Actions of LIFE Lagoon Refresh are not at the end! Partners will hold activities also during the “After LIFE” period, managing the discharge of the fresh water input and continuing the monitoring of the area for the assessment of the good project effects.

At this link, enjoy the brand-new video: “LIFE Lagoon Refresh: a documentary of the project”.

Photo gallery of the Final conference