CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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Home Main projects ISPRA – CNR-IRSA


In 2011, an agreement was signed between ISPRA (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research - Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale) and CNR-IRSA starting the process of updating MacrOper system. MacrOper is the official WFD compliant Italian quality classification system for streams based on macroinvertebrates, for the purposes of the operational monitoring. The need for a regular update of the MacrOper system, related to both the inclusion of new river types or subtypes, and the refinement of reference values ​​on the basis of currently available data - also provided by local Italian authorities and/or environment agencies - was already highlighted at the time of the system proposal (CNR-IRSA, 2008 in Italian).
In general, the collaboration with ISPRA has included the following activities:

  1. the participation in technical meetings IRSA / ISPRA / Environment Agencies addressing the issues encountered in the application of system procedures;
  2. to provide support to ISPRA in training activities addressed to Environment Agencies’ officers, through 3 training courses (in North, Central and South Italy) dedicated to the classification of riverine water bodies according to macrobenthic fauna;
  3. to provide support to ISPRA for the validation of reference sites in rivers according to the procedures developed by IRSA, also emphasizing the criteria for reference sites selection, briefly described in CNR-IRSA, 2008;
  4. the preparation of a draft procedure for the definition of biological reference conditions (for macrobenthic fauna);
  5. to provide support to ISPRA in testing methodologies already developed by IRSA in European projects and nationally adapted for the definition and evaluation of the ecological quality, in particular by:a) setting up the calibration procedure for the classification system;

b) describing the procedure for updating the MacrOper system;
c) producing schematic documents (in the form of a diagram) on the main issues emerged in the application of the classification system - from sampling to classification;
d) drafting a guidelines preparatory document.

The undertaken activity has allowed to:

  • Develop a procedure for river reference sites validation. Provided information has clarified the validation process and explained possible approaches to be applied in regions where data are not yet available.
  • Suggest possible updates to the Italian national ‘classification decree’ 260/2010 based on data made available by local authorities and environment agencies. These updates will allow a more accurate classification of water bodies. The document describing criteria and obtained results will serve as a reference for the definition of further upgrades in the reference values for the river benthos (for those who will make the data available).
  • Provide text schemes related to: 'classification' , 'sampling' and 'non-wadable rivers', in order to clarify the doubts arisen in the effective application of the MacrOper classification system. Such documents, made available to environment agencies, should permit a common interpretation of the potential problems and a standardized application of the classification system.

The outcomes of this activity have been published in the ‘Linee guida per la valutazione della componente macrobentonica fluviale ai sensi del DM 260/2010

Some pictures related to the content of the activity.