OFFSET Venice: Returning the lagoon to the centre of the discourse

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Camilla Bertolini, Laura Onofri, Jane Da Mosto

Publication Date:

Safeguarding the future of Venice is a global challenge of environmental resilience and urban sustainability. The city is composed of islands in a complex, anthropicised, transitional coastal zone with differentiated shallow lagoon habitats in a matrix of deeper navigation channels. Management issues and continuing erosion have resulted in extensive loss of seagrass and saltmarsh areas as well as compromising functionality of the lagoon system. By considering the ecosystem services provided by these habitats, there is scope to shift the economic paradigms: carbon sequestration by saltmarshes and seagrasses alone is currently worth millions of euros/year. Restoring these habitats to their full sequestration capacity, together with estimation of all co-benefits, could become the foundation of a new economy, leading to a healthier lagoon and a better balanced city-nature connection. Nonetheless, a recent review of marsh restoration research highlighted a risk that a carbon sequestration focus tends to neglect pure ecology so OFFSET Venice will integrate ecological analyses with “soft restoration” interventions to maximise the ecological functioning of areas of sediment infills officially termed “artificial saltmarsh” since the 1990s and continuing today. The approach incorporates modelling for scenarios-testing and calculations of cost/benefit and additionality of different, location-specific interventions and will be coupled with economic assessments of carbon pricing to ensure the creation of appropriate development strategies for Venice in terms of the wellbeing of the city and nature. Findings presented will be a combination of completed and in-progress analyses.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program