Environmental protection – World Environment Day was celebrated on 5 June – and the steps to take given our ‘footprint’ on the Planet in terms of pollution and resource exploitation go in the direction of a different relationship with the Earth and nature: we are the ones who have to implement changes to live with the new scenario due to climate change while science will have to provide us with guidelines to build life models inspired by the protection and not the domination of nature.
Virtuous examples of adaptation
Here is a kind of trip to Italy from north to south to discover virtuous examples of adaptation implemented by those territories, positive stories of places that are reborn or change skin, models for everyone and to imagine the world of tomorrow.
He looked for them Marco Merola, journalist and science popularizer who, with The Trip, a creative agency in Rome, created the Audible Original podcast ‘Adaptation Italia’. 8 episodes from 5 June to discover the adaptation actions implemented by some Italian regions.
A region rich in ecosystems and also in criticalities. Above all, the risk of desertification and forest fires, both linked to the rise in temperatures and the change in meteorological conditions. The techniques of micro-irrigation (also called ‘drop by drop’) of fields and the conscious management of woods and forests have helped to keep problems under control.
This is also a very complex region. The coasts of Circeo are eroded over time by the combined sea-wind action, while large rivers, such as those that flow in the capital, can represent a risk for the population in case of floods. For the first aspect it was decided to use ‘restoration’ of the coasts and sand dunes particularly advanced, while the Tiber is monitored by a complex network of sensors.
One of the Italian problems is the impoverishment of soils due to ‘monocultures’. The other problem, equally global in scope, is that of cultivating in environments that are becoming more and more ‘extreme’. Both critical issues were answered in Campania. As for the first problem, there is a new approach that comes from small communities ‘coming together’ to build ‘Grain Libraries’ in which to store primitive seeds of disappeared varieties of wheat to be replanted in the field. For the second aspect, one was born at the Faculty of Agriculture of the Federico II University of Naples ‘space farm’ which has the task of growing vegetables in a clean room, as tomorrow, perhaps, will be done on Mars, to simulate growth in extreme terrestrial environments, such as deserts or frozen moors.
The adaptation aspects of this region are closely linked to the responses that the communities gave to the disaster caused by the storm Vaia at the end of 2018. Sustainable management of the woods, centered on the enrichment of biodiversity (just woods made only of spruce , more fragile) and the redesign of the so-called ‘wood supply chain’, which involves a more conscious and differentiated use of the precious resource, are the most interesting aspects.
Find olive varieties resistant to ‘alien’ pathogens (such as Xylella) arriving in Italy due to changing climatic conditions is the challenge of challenges. The region, scarred by the bacterium in recent years, wants to get up as soon as possible and to this end, research groups from centers and universities are working hard. Similarly, in special laboratories of the Polytechnic of Bari where gigantic tanks have been built, the effect of coastal erosion is simulated to study the countermoves that can save the Apulian coasts from disappearance.
A region rich in water that wonders about water. Emilia Romagna is the most advanced of the Italian regions on the management and protection of water resources. Give some populations to drinkpurified water from the river Po, and even uses the obviously ‘treated’ wastewater to feed rivers and canals that are suffering from drought.
Recreating the albedo effect (the Earth’s ability to reflect sunlight and lower the heat produced by the greenhouse effect) is the aim of a brilliant project by the University of Perugia that is experimenting with special sheets in biomaterials with which to cover the cultivated fieldsthe. The very dark earth, in conditions of particular solar radiation, causes the temperature to rise exponentially. In Gubbio, however, a bee farmer has found a way to save bees from sudden seasonal frosts by heating the hives.
Keeping the salinization of the soils at bay by planting species capable of growing by absorbing excess salts and thus saving crops is the great idea of the University of Pisa. At the AIB forest fire training center “La Pineta dei Tocchi”, in the province of Siena, the best Italian operators instead teach fire conservation and prevention strategies to the new generation. But be careful, it’s not just about preventing, but also knowing how to start the so-called ‘prescribed fire ‘ to control the indiscriminate growth of vegetation and keep the woods clean and tidy.
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