LIFE VIMINE - An integrated approach to the sustainable conservation of intertidal salt marshes in the lagoon of Venice

LIFE12 NAT/IT/001122

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Tommaso MUSNER
Fax: 390498275528
Email: lifevimine@dii.unipd.it

Project description:


Erosion from human and natural causes is intensely impacting the whole Venice lagoon. A progressive deterioration of boundaries, elevations, bottoms and vegetated surfaces is impacting all tidal landforms, and the surface of salt marshes has markedly decreased over recent decades. Even the most interior, best-conserved salt marshes are highly affected and these unique ecosystems providing key eco-services are disappearing.

The causes of erosion are linked to the current models of development and lifestyles, such as waves caused by motorboats and the altered lagoon hydrodynamics resulting from the excavation of deep channels for large ships. Since it is not feasible to act upon these factors in the short term to stop erosion, effective actions to protect the salt marshes are urgently needed, taking into consideration also that current methods to combat coastal erosion cannot be applied in the interior salt marshes.


This LIFE VIMINE project aims to demonstrate an integrated approach to the conservation of interior salt marshes based on prevention through routine, temporally-continuous and spatially-diffuse actions of monitoring and maintenance, as opposed to one-off protection actions.

The regular identification and repair of the small, numerous eroded spots on salt marsh boundaries will be carried out to stop erosion before it becomes irreversible, using low-impact soil bioengineering works (e.g. fascines) and manual labour. This cost-effective method will be merged with participatory processes to involve stakeholders in conservation works, increase environmental awareness and promote sustainable local economic activities based on salt marsh services. Eventually, the demand for salt marsh conservation will emerge naturally from local communities given the key benefits that they will derive from salt marsh services and from conservation activities (employment), thus addressing also the socio-economic drivers of erosion.

Expected results:

  • Creation of a permanent working group including project beneficiaries, subcontractors, local institutions and stakeholders, led by a participation expert, to manage all the participatory processes during the project;
  • Removal of accumulated waste from lagoon sites selected to perform plantation and reforestation activities and creation of a short supply chain of wooden material;
  • Protection from erosion of the most interior, ecologically-valuable salt marshes, using diffuse low-impact soil bioengineering works (total protected surface of some 270 000 m2, whose external boundaries cover some 7 500 m);
  • Integration of soil bioengineering works with other experimental protections (100 m of groynes, 500 m wind barriers) contrasting the current trend of flattening the lagoon beds, to favour the development of ecological niches and increase the local abundance of valuable fishing resources;
  • Continuous surveillance and maintenance over the project lifetime of the salt marshes in the project area;
  • Local employment growth in the Laghi-Dese wetland, hiring local workers in the environmental sector for some 1 480 person-days (450 for sustainable conservation-related activities, 746 for laying of fascines, 284 for maintenance works);
  • Education of ship owners to respect speed limits and safe routes to avoid damaging salt marshes;
  • Raised awareness of the erosion problem amongst the local communities of this isolated rural area, and indirect stimulation of socio-economic activities related to conservation;
  • Evaluation of the economic feasibility and sustainability of employing the low-impact soil bioengineering conservation techniques, including the value of protected ecosystem services;
  • Creation of a wide multidisciplinary dataset (Free-Time Bank, GIS field actions database, data and photographic records, Biodiversity Atlas, Social Map of fishermen's priorities);
  • Establishment of the Landscape and Biodiversity Observatory; and
  • Implementation of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism process.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Coastal


nature conservation‚  integrated management‚  coastal area

Target species

 Salicornia veneta     

Target Habitat types

  • 1140 - Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
  • 1150 - Coastal lagoons
  • 1210 - Annual vegetation of drift lines
  • 1310 - Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand
  • 1320 - Spartina swards (Spartinion maritimae)
  • 1410 - Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi)
  • 1510 - Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia)

Natura 2000 sites

SCI IT3250031 Laguna superiore di Venezia
SPA IT3250046 Laguna di Venezia



Coordinator Universit degli Studi di Padova, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale
Type of organisation University
Description The Environmental Systems Analysis Lab (LASA) is part of the department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Padua (Italy). It carries out research on monitoring and modelling of water quality, diffuse pollution, ecology and environmental status of most kinds of aquatic ecosystems, including freshwater, saltwater and transitional water bodies, with a focus on human impacts. LASA also provides scientific consultancy for public institutions and private enterprises concerned with the quality of water bodies and with water resources management.
Partners Agenda 21 Consulting srl–Mestrino, Italy Consorzio di Bonifica Acque Risorgive–Venice, Italy AttivaMente Cooperativa sociale Onlus–Taglio di Po, Italy Comune di Venezia, Italy Foundation for Sustainable Development-Wageningen, The Netherlands Magistrato Alle Acque–Venice, Italy


Project reference LIFE12 NAT/IT/001122
Duration 02-SEP-2013 to 01-SEP -2017
Total budget 2,024,295.00 €
EU contribution 1,396,763.00 €
Project location Veneto(Italia) Groningen(Nederland) Friesland(Nederland) Drenthe(Nederland) Overijssel(Nederland) Gelderland(Nederland) Flevoland(Nederland) Noord-Brabant(Nederland) Limburg(Nederland) Utrecht(Nederland) Noord-Holland(Nederland) Zuid-Holland(Nederland) Zeeland(Nederland)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version