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Marceddì and San Giovanni: treasures of the past rediscovered in a sustainable future

The deep past turns into an eternal present in the paintings exposed on the walls of the second floor at the “Museum of the Sea”, in Marceddì. In the colors and essential lines drawn by the children, live side by side the Neolithic populations and the Phoenicians, the “Neapolis” that would belong to the Roman Empire and would be described by Plinius and Ptolemy, the fearsome pirate Dargut, the Spanish tower almost touching the lagoon, the fishermen standing on their traditional boats, the fassonis, birds and fishes dwelling the rich vegetation of the San Giovanni pond. Perhaps the imagination has found the only possible summary for a corner of the Oristano Gulf so rich in Mediterranean history and nature. At the first floor photography embodies the more recent memory. Shot after shot the Twentieth Century of the fishermen is composed, life in ordinary days and festivities, the collectivity at work. Protected by showcases the ancient tools: “sa busa” for the harvest of the grooved razor shells, “sa sassua” used to empty the hull, “sa fruscia”, the harpoon for night-fishing.

During the last century, however, the fragile harmony existing between man and environment has been put in danger. The wetlands of Oristano would be among the first portions of territory to disappear due to the rise in sea level, one of the most worrying effects of climate change. In the last fifty years pollution and interventions in the management of water resources have altered the ecosystem balance. “For decades, integrated wetland management has been lacking. Occasional interventions have created a lot of damage to the environment and the local economy", explains Simone Puddu, Councilor for the Environment of the Municipality of Terralba, from which Marceddì and San Giovanni depend. "We must first restore and defend the ecological system. Only in this way will we be able to proceed to a sustainable economic development of the great environmental heritage in which we live”, he adds.

“In the past attempts to condition the flow of water, in particular the Rio Mogoro, have led to sedimentation processes that have modified the original structure of the compendium of S. Giovanni and Marceddì. The repercussions on the hydrogeological balance and the fauna of the territory have been important" explains Giorgio Masaro, biologist at MEDSEA engaged in the Maristanis project. The San Giovanni fishery is completely underground, and where the Rio Mogoro flows into the pond fishing activities are absent, a sign that the fish fauna has disappeared.

With the support of the MEDSEA team of experts, who provided technical assistance in drafting the project required for the request of funding, the municipality of Terralba obtained from the POR FESR funds of the Sardinia Region one million euros thanks to which the first necessary interventions to contain the process of changing the structures will be performed: "We will start with depth surveys. On the basis of these we will realize openings in the current barriers. In the Marceddì Bridge, some bulkheads will be eliminated where the presence of the channels allowing the natural exchange of fresh and salt water has been ascertained. Similarly, near the mouth of the Rio Mogoro, openings will be restored ", says Eng. Claudia Cenghialta, from the Terralba technical office. Not only. The funds will also be used to restore natural conditions in the terminal parts of some canals (in particular the Canale Manca) that flow into the San Giovanni pond, and to proceed with the census of the species that inhabit the pond in order to verify their conservation status. Near the barrier of the Rio Mogoro the administration will identify sites that can help the nesting of birds. Furthermore, buffer strips will be created through the planting of native plants.

The operations of environmental restoration and strengthening of the economic-cultural aspects, which Maristanis follows and supports in all the municipalities touched by the wetlands, also affect the splendid fishermen's hamlet in Terralba. The small village overlooking the Marceddì lagoon is included among the eight selected by the Sardinia Region for the "Costeras" selection, which has seen the participation of redevelopment projects from all over Europe. The winning plan, now looking for funding, conceives the area as a communion of human presence, work and development. Phyto-purifiers and desalination tanks will restore the balance of water and land, making the landscape usable for sustainable forms of tourism. The vast pine forest would also be redeveloped. A model for Europe and the Mediterranean, which embraces development while preparing a response to the impending threat of sea level rise.

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