• 01 OCT 14
    • 0

    WWF report: 30 meters of Italian coastline developed daily

    In an extensive recent report on construction along Italy’s coasts, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) detailed changes occurring over the past couple decades, and pled for a halt to further development.

    The report, entitled “Cemento Coast to Coast: 25 anni di natura cancellata dale coste italiane“, indicates roughly 400 percent increase in the extent of development in coastal areas, and in particular a 300% increase along the coastal strip itself.

    “The ‘recipe’ for exploiting the potential of the natural heritage intelligently and not destructively must be integrated and sustainable coastal management,” WWF experts said.

    In the 1950s, about two-thirds of the 1472-km Italian coastline were free from construction, yet since 2000 this has drastically reduced to less than a third (466 km), with a “stupefying” average speed of about 10 kilometers per year, just under 30 meters daily.

    “Until today nobody knows who really governs our coasts: the management is ‘shared’ at very different levels (national, regional, local) with a fragmentation of jurisdictions that has often led to overlaps, inefficiency, lawlessness, and complications in management and control,” WWF Italy said. “Laws protecting the coasts are certainly not lacking, but nonetheless no one knows who governs them.”

    Extent of impermeable paved surfaces along Italy's coastal strip (source: WWF)

    Extent of impermeable paved surfaces along Italy’s coastal strip (source: WWF)

    WWF cited 312 “human macro activities” consuming coastal land over 25 years, including construction in some 78 “natural paradises”,  where WWF found 120 interventions of which 40% are accommodations, 29% dams and docks and 23% other new developments.

    WWF said the findings confirm the recent report by Italy’s Superior Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), according to which in 86.7% of Italy’s coastal habitats of public interest the overall state of conservation is “unsatisfactory”, compared to a national average for all habitat types of 67.6%.

    “WWF calls to reverse overdevelopment through two simple means: extending the coastal preservation strip from 300 meters wide to 1,000 meters, and a moratorium on all construction along the coastal strip until new landscape plans are implemented, which, among other things, should be already in force,” said Gaetano Benedetto, environmental policy director at  WWF Italy.

    He added that there must also be improved compliance with legislation, and incentive-based fiscal policies should be adopted, citing precedents in other European countries.

    “This is not only an environmental problem: Saving the coast from concrete means saving a structural part of our economy,” commented Benedetto.

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