Case study:Restoration project of riparian buffer of the Sesia river

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Location: 45° 25' 42", 8° 38' 47"
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Project overview

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Status Planned
Project web site
Themes Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Water quality
Country Italy
Main contact forename Raffaella
Main contact surname Pagano
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation provincia di vercelli
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations
Parent multi-site project
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encompassing the following
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Project summary

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The project starts from the analysis of the situation of the River Sesia: The WFD and the 2nd Management Plan of the Hydrographic District of the Po River identify the need for an adaptation of the characteristics of the watercourse to the introduced objectives, by 2021. The quality of the River Sesia from Vercelli to the confluence with the Po is sufficient, unlike the upstream part where it is good. In fact, anthropogenic pressures such as civil, industrial and agricultural waste affect the parameters of water quality. Furthermore, in the project area there is evidence of a loss of biodiversity and lack of habitats and characteristic ecotypes caused by the presence of alien plants (such as Reynoutria japonica). The framework of the project is to limit the presence of the alien species (according to Black list of the exotic species of the Piedmont Region) and at the same time reintroduce arboreal-shrub areas and meadows both to create competition with the R. japonica and to reconstruct the riparian buffers, facing the problem of the destabilization and erosion of the banks caused by the infesting species and the lack of riparian vegetation. The project therefore envisages two interventions: 1) Control of Reynoutria japonica and creation of an arboreal-shrub buffer zone in the Brarola area (surface area of ​​6,720 square meters). The area of ​​intervention, about 2 km from the City of Vercelli, is included within the Lama del Badiotto and Garzaia della Brarola SPA managed by the Ticino Park and Lake Maggiore. At the end of the Control period of R. japonica, the project foresees to plant Populus alba, Alnus glutinosa, Prunus padus and Sambucus nigra for a density of 1667 plants per hectare. 2) Control of Reynoutria japonica and creation of grassland and shrub-land areas in competition with the settlement of Reynoutria japonica in the locality of J. Korczak Park (surface area 87,700 square meters). At the end of the control period of R. japonica, a lawn will be sown using graminaceous and leguminous plants with high competitive capacity. The project will also proceed with the planting of Populus alba, Alnus glutinosa, Prunus padus, Salix alba, Ulmus laevis, Sambucus nigra and Viburnum opulus. Overall, the intervention, in addition to improving the quality of the river protecting biodiversity, also aims to restore the city to a usable area. Project partners: City of Vercelli (lead), Province of Vercelli, Management body of the Protected Areas of Ticino and Lake Maggiore.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Po Basin
River basin Sesia


River name Sesia
Area category
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 500 - 1000 m
Maximum altitude (m) 2000
2,000 m
2 km
200,000 cm
Dominant geology sand and gravel
Ecoregion Italy and Corsica
Dominant land cover intensive agriculture (rice)
Waterbody ID

Other case studies in this subcatchment: LIFE ECORICE - Vercelli rice fields, Oasi naturale delle pittime di Cascina Oschiena


Name Sesia river (Municipality of Vercelli – location Brarola and Korczak
WFD water body codes
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name SESIA
Pre-project morphology Single channel
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation EU - Special Protected Area
Local/regional site designations SPA IT1120025 “Lama del Badiotto e Garzaia della Brarola”
Protected species present Yes
Invasive species present Yes
Species of interest Reynoutria japonica
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate Sand
River corridor land use Urban and agriculture
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started
Works started
Works completed
Project completed
Total cost category
Total cost (k€) 255.000
255 k€
255,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources Regione Piemonte – Direzione ambiente, governo e tutela del territorio – Settore Tutela delle Acque [Bilancio finanziario 2018-2020 nell’ambito della Missione 09 “Sviluppo sostenibile e tutela del territorio e del mare”, Programma 06 “Tutela delle risorse idriche”.

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Presence of invasive species and biodiversity loss
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor Control of invasive species; planting riparian vegetation
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

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Physico-chemical quality elements

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Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

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Monitoring documents

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Supplementary Information

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