A river of life

With its energy, the river has selected plant species that can live in contact with the water as well as withstand the enormous energy unleashed by river floods. If the plants that grow along the river banks did not have such characteristics, in fact, Italian rivers would look like water channels, like the Grand Canyon. In actual fact, our river landscape is the result of the symbiotic joint evolution of the plant species selected by the river and the fluvial habitat defined by these plants. Their rapid growth clearly tells us that – once man-made obstacles have been removed – all that needs be done in order to restore interrupted river stretches is to protect them: in a few years’ time, the action of the river plants alone will restore the environment to its original balance.
No less enticing is the role of the fauna. The presence of millions of organisms invisible to the naked eye makes for a depuration process much more effective than is accomplished by a small number of selected microorganisms in city water treatment plants. Moreover, thanks to their diet, benthonic macro invertebrates – organisms visible to the naked eye that live in sediments or under stones on the river bed – permit the degradation of organic substances during their prolonged larval stage, which can last up to 3 years.
The aquatic ecosystems are key components of the landscape, of the life of the land, of biodiversity, and the renewal of the quality of the water we ourselves use.

Photo credit: © WWF / Andrija Vrdoljak