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  • Writer's pictureAnna

The new questionnaire - Interview to Elena Zwirner

My recent research journey has brought me to meet a few great new contacts, some of which only in virtual form. I asked to Elena Zwirner to tell me about her research and how we managed to get to work together, on a new questionnaire. See here our small interview!

- Tell us about yourself and your Friuli

I grew up in Aprilia Marittima, with the Marano lagoon, the sea of Lignano, and the mouth of the Tagliamento. As children, however, we spent our summers with our grandfather in Paluzza, and I never stopped feeling a strong bond with the mountains. It is the nature of our region that prompted me to study natural sciences. I am particularly excited to finally be able to do research “at home” - along the breath-taking scenery of the Tagliamento, no less! - and to be able to put my knowledge at the service of our territory and our people.

- What do you research? How does the Tagliamento fit in your research agenda?

I specialize in the study of behavioral ecology, and from the PhD to date I have focused on human social behavior. My research 'transcends' the divisions between disciplines, and I use methods drawn from biology, psychology, and anthropology. At the moment I am studying how living in high natural risk areas (near active volcanoes or in river floodplains) influences our behavior in daily life. The project on the Tagliamento, however, has a much broader purpose, and seeks to understand how trust in institutions and a sense of community are formed and what their role is in the choices for the future of the river. I hope this will help us improve communication between the population, civil protection, and the administration, at least as regards land management.

- How is our collaboration helping you with your research?

When my project idea was still in its infancy, I was lucky enough to come across your first questionnaire. I immediately contacted you! Many of your questions are of great interest to my line of research, and therefore there is clearly a common interest; but above all I believe that our collaboration is very important because the three of us have very different skills, all of which are essential to be able to give a complete vision of how to best preserve and enhance our environment.

- How come another questionnaire?

We have designed this second questionnaire to allow us to have a complete view of everything that the communities of the region find important, in everyday life as well as about the river. This is important because it allows us to go beyond the question of the safety works of the river or the case of the Tagliamento. It will allow us to find adequate solutions for the long and very long term, having in mind our territory, our country, but also their value (or, better, the value we want to give them) in Europe and in the world. Let's just think of the example of the rivers Whanganui (New Zealand) and Vjosa (Albania) that you brought back, Anna. Now they are a symbol, a symbol that pushes us too to 'fight' for our land. And this could happen because the locals wanted it, together with their administrations.

Click here to take part of the survey!

- How will you share the results?

Here I rely on you and Chiara. You've organized some simply amazing events to talk about your early results, and I couldn't do better. I would certainly also like to involve my part of the region, and organize events at the mouth of the Tagliamento and in the lowlands in general. I am fortunate to also collaborate with Giosué Cuccurullo, president of the Tagliamento Mouth Nature Reserve association, who works tirelessly for the protection of our nature and our river. I would like to be able to join efforts and be able to organize some popular event all together.

Thank you Elena, and... I hope to meet you soon in person :)


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