The three day meeting took place from April 26th to 28th and consisted of sessions dedicated to each work package (WP), in which specific updates and activities related to the past months were discussed, as well as upcoming activities and next steps. In between the sessions we had the opportunity to discover the Dora Baltea Pilot Case Study (PCS) on dedicated field trips in the region.

Dora Baltea is a glacial river basin of almost 4000 km2 in the northwest of the Italian Alps with the typical natural attributes of mountain rivers: high average altitude, very low water temperature, steep slopes, high water speed and natural rate of discharge, dominance of rocky substrates, riverbeds with low exposure to the sun and high sediment transport.

In the last century, the river has been heavily exploited in support of economic growth and urban expansion, eroding ecological assets such as riparian vegetation, flood plains and natural water discharge. In particular, hundreds of hydropower plants have been built in a river network already affected by withdrawals for irrigation and, more recently, major hydraulic works. To find out more about the SPARE Dora Baltea PCS please read here.

The first day of the meeting was dedicated to sessions related to financial and administrative management as well as to the activities in the five Pilot Case Studies (PCS), coordinated by ARPA Aosta Valley with support from ARPA Veneto.

During the last part of the day we went on a guided tour of some of the Ru that cross the city of Aosta. These are small canals constructed in alpine areas for water conveyance from the lateral valley creeks to the agricultural creeks for irrigation of the central dry valleys.

The second day was almost exclusively dedicated to a technical visit of the upper part of the basin, with the five following stops:

In Val Ferret we visited the Dora di Ferret river and received information about the conservation activities carried out by Legambiente. We proceeded to the confluence of the Dora di Ferret river with the Dora di Veny river (source of the Dora Baltea), in order to see the high level of artificiality of the water course as well as the landscape. Subsequently, we visited the aquaculture farm in Morgex, which aims to repopulate the fish stock in the water courses of the Aosta Valley, and a new underground hydropower plant in the Rhêmes Valley, which is 80% owned by the valley communities. Our final stop before lunch was at an experimental monitoring station in Chanavey used for the development of indicators for the implementation of multi-criteria analyses.

At the end of the day we had a very fruitful and interesting session to support exchange among the five PCS, in order to share information and technical solutions.

During the third, and final, day of the meeting we discussed communication strategies and the upcoming Knowledge Exchange Workshop that will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on September 27th. We are currently inviting international experts in order to exchange knowledge and experiences of participatory river management, stakeholder involvement and links between ecosystem services and integrated landscape management. We wrapped up the meeting with a presentation of the pan-Alpine river database, developed by BOKU University in Vienna in 2013, and being extended within the SPARE project. 

The next SPARE project meeting will take place in Zernez (PCS Inn-Engadine, Switzerland) at the beginning of October this year.

Stay tuned for more information!

~ written by Andrea Mammoliti Mochet (ARPA VDA), Matteo Cesca (ARPAV), Martha Dunbar (CIPRA)