Field Trip: Salt Marsh Restoration in the Venetian Lagoon

The Lagoon consists of many salt marshes, in various conditions of restoration

Last week, Jane Da Mosto—executive director of We Are Here Venice—took some of the residents on a boat tour around the various salt marshes that populate the Venice Lagoon. In her work with We Are Here Venice, Jane has played a crucial role in advocating for the protection of the Lagoon—both its natural ecosystems and the people that call it their home.

The Venetian lagoon is the largest wetland in the Mediterranean: a diverse and dynamic ecosystem that plays host to a variety of plant and animal species. The most prevalent geomorphological feature in the lagoon is the salt marsh: areas of low-lying land covered with salt-tolerant vegetation. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the salt marshes have been in decline. Today, only 8% of the area of the lagoon is covered by salt marshes (as opposed to 25% in 1900).

Barriers help to trap sediment and protect the landmass from erosion

Salt marshes play an important role in regulating the local hydrodynamic system and providing a habitat for ecosystem biodiversity. On the trip, we came across many species of waterfowl, from Flamingos to Oyster Catchers. Additionally, the salt marshes function as an important carbon sink, sequestering far more atmospheric carbon than land ecosystems. To protect these important ecosystem services, various efforts are currently underway to restore and re-establish salt marshes in the Venice lagoon.

In a fluid landscape structured by dynamic currents and tides, restoration is no easy task. While methodologies vary, restoration typically involves the creation of barriers to trip sediment and reduce erosion from wave energy. After establishing a landmass, salt-tolerant plant species then populate the area and fix the land in place with their root systems. A variety of methodologies are currently being tested in order to best understand how to re-establish these important ecosystems. Nature-based solutions, which work with nature to achieve resilience, are of particular interest to the Non-Extractive architecture project.

For more information on We Are Here Venice, please visit their website here.

A large flock of flamingos were feeding in the shallows of the salt marsh

Published by

Connor Cook

Designer and researcher Currently in Venice @ Non-Extractive Architecture Residency

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