Implementation of Nature-Based Solutions for Hydro-Meteorological Risk Reduction in Small Mediterranean Catchments: The Case of Portofino Natural Regional Park, Italy

Turconi, L. et al. | Sustainability | 2020 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Nature-based solutions (NBS) are usually defined as complementary or alternative solutions to “grey infrastructures” (traditionally made with cement) aimed at conserving and regenerating the functionality of natural and semi-natural ecosystems. The research to date shows a considerable potential of NBS to address the current challenges related to climate change and geo-hydrological risks. Despite significant interest in NBS by researchers and practitioners, knowledge concerning their practical implementation, monitoring, and evaluation is still lacking. This is particularly true for large-scale NBS. The present paper discusses how such solutions can be implemented in the context of hydro-meteorological risk reduction in small Mediterranean catchments with a strong tourist vocation. The work presented here is situated within the RECONECT Project (Regenerating ECOsystems with Nature-based solutions for hydro-meteorological risk rEduCTion), which aims to contribute to a European reference framework on NBS by demonstrating, upscaling, and replicating large-scale NBS in rural and natural areas. The Italian case study of RECONECT is the Portofino Natural Regional Park, which represents a unique natural landscape element with high ecologic, social, and economic (touristic) value, which is threatened by a range of geo-hydrological hazards, such as flash floods, hyper-concentrated floods, shallow landslides, rockfalls, and storm surges. This paper also presents details of NBS interventions in two pilot catchments (San Fruttuoso and Paraggi) visited by thousands of tourists throughout the year. It addresses some of the key aspects related to monitoring meteorological and hydrological processes, as well as remote sensing activities (i.e., LiDAR surveys), which are necessary for the identification of critical-instability areas along waterways and the reconstruction of dry stone walls. Lastly, a discussion of relevant mitigation and adaptation strategies that are potentially replicable at national and international levels is also provided.