CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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River typology in Italy

Suggested approach for Italian typology

In Italy, within the activities of a working group chaired by MATTM (Ministry of Environment and Terrestrial and Marine Protection), a proposal for Italian rivers typization has become official in December 2006. The proposal has been subsequently included in the technical normative framework supporting the WFD. The resulting typology creates the base for river types acknowledgment at national scale. Several subjects have been working under the coordination of MATTM for the development of the Italian typology, among these: CNR-IRSA, APAT, ISS, Regions and Catchment Authorities.
Following criteria have prevailed in the debate about creating  regionalization for the typology definition:

  • the typology must consider the mandatory descriptors indicated in the WFD
  • it must assure comparability at national scale
  • it should preserve data availability at regional basis
  • it should be based on actually relevant features of biocoenosis
  • advisability of using a regionalization for obvious practical reasons
  • advisability of maintaining a simple approach for typology definition, in order to ease the subsequent steps for WFD implementation

The adopted procedure, considered the above mentioned points, is structured in three levels (Buffagni et al., 2006):

  1. Level 1 – Regionalization. Hydroecoregions (HERs) definition for Italy. About this point, it has been preferred to directly refer to HER defined for Italy by CEMAGREF and involve local  authorities (Catchment authorities,  Regions, Environment agencies etc.) in order to provide a verification at local/regional scale. This will enable the prosecution to level 2 and 3 maintaining a good scientific basis for typology. It’s worthy mention that CEMAGREF work for HER definition in France involved a 3 years scientific activity.
  2. Level 2 – Definition of a mandatory typology. Typology is defined on the basis of few descriptive elements. Such elements are easily applicable at national scale and have a highly agreed relevance. Moreover such typology has to be integrated as better as possible with Level 1 regionalization. Level 2 is to be considered as official to WFD reporting activities and compulsory for all Italian rivers.
  3. Level 3 – Definition of a detailed typology. This third level consists in a refinement of level 2 typology based on local characters, available data, management needs etc. It could be based on different descriptors in different Italian areas adequately selected and tested. It offers the possibility of adjusting possible incongruities derived from level 2. The Level 3 refinement is desirable for all Italian rivers although the timing can be adapted by local agencies to actual needs and possibilities. Results of level 3 should allow a more detailed redefinition of criteria/boundaries used in the previous levels.


ItaliaFigure 1. Boundaries of Italian hydroecoregions (green line) overlapping regional boundaries (black line).