Comacchio - Environmental restoration and conservation of the habitat of the Salt-pan of the SCI Comacchio Marshes
The Comacchio lagoons, situated on the Adriatic Coast in the Emilia-Romagna region of north-east Italy, form part of the countryâ€™s largest and most important wetlands area. The project achieved that Po Delta Regional Park was given control of the site and the planned restoration was completed, which resulted in an area open to the public in a controlled way and its future secured under a Management Plan than makes conservation its priority. Early work to survey the site and establish a re-instatement plan was assisted by retired salt workers who provided valuable historical information. Water circulation was improved by a number of measures including excavation of the Duomo Canal. Moreover six sluice gates were installed to allow selective distribution of water flows. New drains were constructed and pumps put in to provide control of water levels. A particularly innovative aspect of the project was the installation of a system to monitor the chemical and physical properties of the water in the lagoon. A â€œsalinettaâ€ - little salt works - was constructed on 4 ha of the site and salt production using traditional practices were implemented. The landscape was greatly improved and hazards to birds removed by burying or removing electric power lines and demolishing unsightly buildings. Guided visits and educational trips for schools were established and continue into the future, as has been monitoring of water, habitats and populations of birds, fish and flora under the areaâ€™s new long-term management plan.