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Venice Salt Marshes As A Carbon Sink: One-year Review

We are working with glass company Laguna B on a project to explore the potential of Venice’s salt marshes as a carbon sink. One year on from our first group meeting we have established a team of scientists, academics and activists and are laying essential groundwork. 

Following the January 2020 workshop that confirmed the validity of our approach and clarified the key areas needing further investigation, the first step was the institution of weekly meetings for the project team. Carolyn Smith, urban dynamics researcher and PhD candidate (University of Cambridge), produced a comprehensive dossier with supporting cartography describing past and current salt marsh restoration projects in the Venice Lagoon. This was the basis for our field trips to different parts of the lagoon to better understand, as a team, the logistical and technical challenges and begin imagining how the salt marsh revitalisation interventions could potentially be organised.

Camilla Bertolini (BSc (Hons) Marine Biology & Coastal Ecology (Plymouth University); PhD – Mussel bed restoration (Queen’s University Belfast); Post-doc researcher (Ca’ Foscari)), WahV chief scientist, carried out a systematic review of 30 years of salt marsh restoration literature (under peer review) and is currently developing a model to quantify plant Carbon accretion and specific rates of carbon sequestration by different lagoon habitats. Meanwhile, Laura Onofri (M.Sc.Economics, (Catholic University of Leuven); Ph.D. Economics (Maastricht University)), expert in environmental economics, co-authored a paper with Jane da Mosto, Anil Markandya and others on the economic valuation of ecosystem services in the Venice Lagoon. She is now quantifying the “social costs” of carbon offset applied to the Venice context, in collaboration with colleagues including Prof. Geoffrey Heal at Columbia University (New York, USA).  Eleonora Sovrani, WahV art director, liaises with the LagunaB team (Marcantonio Brandolini and Alvise Maria De Mezzo), overseeing scientific interpretation/visualisation and image production. Paolo Peretti, hydraulic engineer, has helped with geotechnical information and site surveys.

Two students at Ca’ Foscari were inspired by this project for their degree theses: Margherita Scapin (BA in Philosophy, International and Economic Studies, Ca’ Foscari) – “The role of Blue Carbon in Climate Change mitigation strategies: A Venice-based project” and Anna Peretti (BA in Business Economics, Ca’ Foscari, in progress).

This project is still in its development phase, we’ll be sharing more insights as it progresses.

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