Rome Rewilded

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Image: Planet World / Flickr

Thanks again to one of our most reliable sources for the summary of conservation-oriented science, and specifically to Brandon Keim for this one:

An Anthropocene wildness grows in Rome

Even in one of the most densely urbanized places on Earth, wildness and natural abundance may yet flourish again, sustained by both neglect and stewardship.It’s a small parable of nature in the Anthropocene, playing out near an abandoned factory in the heart of Rome…

…As befits that haphazard ecology, the management of the SNIA Viscosa site is also a patchwork. Some of it is publicly-owned and managed by a local citizen group who’ve enlisted the help of ecologists. They’ve called for the entire area to be designated a Natural Monument, which would ensure its long-term protection. This is vital, says study co-author Giuseppe Dodaro of Rome’s Sustainable Development Foundation, because other parts, including the lake’s surroundings, are still privately-owned. They’re a juicy target for developers, and indeed local citizens have fought off several proposed building projects.

Having flourished with neglect, this new ecosystem now depends on the stewardship of people who’ve come to love and enjoy it. “When the guys who manage it organize events, many people always participate,” says Dodaro. “It will not be easy to tear it out of the neighborhood.”

Source: Battisti et al. “Paradoxical environmental conservation: Failure of an unplanned urban development as a driver of passive ecological restoration.” Environmental Development, 2017.

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