The Tagliamento River
Back in 2015 I won the AGU Student Video competition with the video “Drawing a life through a river”, a personal view on living away from the Tagliamento River, the place that I keep going home to.
During my PhD I really wanted to go to a large international conference (AGU, San Francisco) but did not have the necessary funding. However, the winner of a student video competition, sponsored by the conference organizers, was a free ticket to the conference. The story was clear to me: I wanted to show myself without limits, to go beyond the research topic I was working on, to show my love for my roots and passion for water sciences and how those were linked together in a “strengths and weaknesses” kind of way. I convinced my husband and sister to spend their holidays and free time preparing a short movie to submit to the AGU Student video competition. The video was on the Tagliamento river and it had to be done quickly to meet the deadline. By the time we submitted, we were each at the point where we hated my whistling and my voice! We also had a lot of fun. It turned out to be as emotional and philosophical as I am, and a bit messy too. The video made it to the finals, and to our surprise we won! I was able to attend the conference and give two oral presentations that year. I participated to a video-making workshop and had so much positive feedback on the video. I really wish to repeat the struggle!
Find here the link to the award-winning video!
During my postdoc at Stockholm University, on a 2-week holiday in my hometown in Friuli, I started chatting about the Tagliamento River with my sister, a researcher in damage and multi-risk (i.e. someone who estimates the risk given by earthquakes, floods, volcanoes...). The holiday ended up with us talking about research ideas and possible ways to involve science, governance and the media - particularly newspapers.
We developed a framework to compare the most commonly occurring words across document types and tested the approach in the Tagliamento River. We found some agreement between the topics covered by regulatory documents and newspapers, as well as, to a lower degree, the topics covered by academic literature and newspapers. However, we found disconnection between academic sources and regulatory documents, indicating a critical gap for communication and understanding between academic research and governance.
This first holiday used as a platform for scientific exchange lead to a small agenda for the conservation and preservation of the Tagliamento River.
We prepared a questionnaire to understand the relationship between people and the river and the perception of the risk associated with the Tagliamento. We got more than 4000 responses from the questionnaire! Showing a great deal of interest for the river and its management. At the moment, a manuscript comparing flood risk perception and official risk assessment maps is under review.
I participated to the discussion regarding the proposal to add the Tagliamento River to the tentative list of the UNESCO natural heritage sites with a newspaper article published on IlFriuli local newspaper: The Tagliamento: a free-flowing river with which we can co-exist
The article discusses the reasons why the river is worthy of protection, but above all, tries to explain why there is no dichotomy between saving the river and saving the local population: defending the river and the local population is one and the same.
I then had the chance to talk about the Tagliamento River over a nice initiative organized on facebook to to discuss the science behind the international relevance of the Tagliamento River and the UNESCO.
My small contribution can be found here.
Short after my first appearance, I had the chance to talk about the Tagliamento River and its future at the local radio.
In September, I also organized the first Tagliamento home river Bioblitz, participating to an initiative built through a collaboration with, among others, the River Collective and National Geographic:
See our achievements on iNaturalist in "The wonders of the Tagliamento"!
2020 PETITION: Protect one the last free-flowing rivers!
The Tagliamento river is the place of the heart for me, but is worthy of protection for many other reasons.
I think this initiative is a nice step coming from the residents to try and reach out for everybody that disagrees with the development of a well-preserved watershed. In fact, the regional government has recently declined the motion to add the river to the tentative list of the UNESCO natural heritage sites, and approved plans to build a dam and a new highway across the upper river course.
If, like me, you feel like this is a good cause, please go ahead and sign the petition!