The Marzenego river begins its course in the north-east of the Venetian Region. Along its 45 km, the river crosses an extremely heterogeneous territory - characterized by rural, industrial and urban areas – ultimately channelling into the artificial Osellino canal which reaches the Venice Lagoon. As a result, the Marzenego receives water from a dense network of drainage canals, which modify the morphology of the watercourse and put areas surrounding the Marzenego at risk of flooding.
Nature Based Solutions (NBSs) aim to manage both the sustainable use of natural resources to address socio-environmental challenges, and the risk of environmental disaster; providing an integrated approach to conserve, manage and preserve the functionality of natural ecosystems. Along the Marzenego river, NBSs may include the restoration of natural habitats through the widening and remodulation of the riverbed, and the creation of wetlands for nutrient and sediment reduction; promoting biodiversity, reducing flood risk, and providing recreational areas for neighbouring communities.
NBSs are particularly effective when they are developed in a co-participative context, in which volunteers can have the opportunity to express their expectations and needs and be involved in the decision-making processes. Citizen science can further involve citizens by including them in the environmental monitoring of the NBS.
The NBS implemented along the Marzenego river provides a suitable case-study for MICS to evaluate; elucidating the impact of citizen science initiatives in this specific environment. To co-design the citizen science activities, MICS adopts and applies the best practice generated by the Ground Truth 2.0 project. This process has already begun with the first of three workshops, designed to identify and define the project and the environmental monitoring activities to be carried out by citizen scientists.
In December 2019, 40 citizens – including scientists, teachers, environmental experts and public authorities – were introduced to the river restoration project; the concepts of citizen science and NBS; and the MICS project as a whole. Through a series of activities – intended to facilitate an effective co-design of the project - the volunteers contributed their views on the issues surrounding flooding and poor water quality, and their expectations for what the project might achieve. Expectations were summarised as an infographic, and demonstrate increased well-being, increased biodiversity, environmental risk mitigation and social development as key issues in need of addressing.
Based on these expectations, the second workshop will utilize co-design methods to identify useful indicators for each citizen science activity, aimed at monitoring the environmental changes before and after the implementation of NBSs. The third workshop will be dedicated to providing the necessary tools (such as practical kits and apps) for volunteers to begin monitoring.
We’ll keep you updated with our progress following these workshops!