Mass tourism threatening Venice lagoon, say ecologists

Jul 04, 2011
A gondola sails along a canal in Venice. An Italian environmental group has warned that mass tourism is slowly eroding the Venice lagoon, which it said is also threatened by major real estate development and an inadequate transport network.

An Italian environmental group warned on Monday that mass tourism is slowly eroding the Venice lagoon, which it said is also threatened by major real estate development and an inadequate transport network.

Architect Cristiano Gasparetto said a 1988 study indicated that while the acceptable maximum number of tourists for Venice is 33,000 daily, today the average figure is 59,000.

Alessandra Mottola Molfino, head of the Italia Nostra non-governmental organisation, said the figure "is too high for such a fragile city".

The group's experts say that as a result of this human tide, aquatic transport has soared in the city, causing the gradual destruction of the lagoon ecosystem, with its mix of sea and fresh water and its relatively shallow bed which is home to plants which can oxygenate water.

of ships cruising at ever greater speed push up the underwater silt which is sucked in by tides, with Venice increasingly becoming less of a lagoon and more and more a bay.

The Venice lagoon is an inlet of the Adriatic Sea, with access to sea waters largely restricted by a series of sand bars at the lagoon's entrance.

Substantial freshwater inputs used to flow through the as well, but over the past several centuries most of the freshwater has been diverted directly to the Adriatic.

The lagoon's water now possesses a salinity level nearly as high as that of the Adriatic.

Luigi D'Alpaos, a professor of at Padoa University, said that in the space of 70 years, the laguna bed had dropped on average by a meter (about three feet).

Italia Nostra proposed a sharp reduction of the number of tour groups, even though it realises that such a step "would momentarily lead to a drop in trade flows" and apparently to a "decline of the local economy".

It suggested developing other activities such as university research or ecotourism to "create a richer economy than one solely based on (mass) tourism".

Italia Nostra also slammed excessive real estate speculation, including plans by Venice authorities to build a nearby city, Tessera-City, complete with offices, a casino, warehouses and a high-speed rail link.

The rail link would require construction of a nine-kilometer-long tunnel under the laguna and would further lower its bed, according to Gasparetto.

"Venice is really under threat. We must find a balance between immediate needs and the future to ensure sustainable development," said Mottola Molfino.

Explore further: Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nearly half of Venice underwater

Nov 30, 2009

Much of the historic Italian city of Venice, including St. Mark's Square, was underwater Monday following a meteorological depression combined with natural tide waters, officials said.

Venice to suffer fewer storm surges

Jun 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Venice – the City of Dreams – may have one less nightmare to deal with following a finding that the frequency of extreme storm surge events generated by Adriatic Sea tempests could ...

Image: Hubble's lagoon

Oct 15, 2010

Like brush strokes on a canvas, ridges of color seem to flow across the Lagoon Nebula, a canvas nearly 3 light-years wide.

Millenium atoll: A pristine ecosystem

Jun 07, 2010

A series of surveys were carried out to characterize the physical and biological parameters of the Millennium Atoll lagoon during a research expedition in April of 2009. Millennium is a remote coral atoll in the Central Pacific ...

Recommended for you

Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

14 hours ago

Royal Dutch Shell has submitted a new plan for drilling in the Arctic offshore Alaska, more than one year after halting its program following several embarrassing mishaps.

Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050

15 hours ago

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year ...

User comments : 0