Le Cinque Terre (or Five Lands), a string of picturesque towns along the northern Ligurian coast, is known for its steep, terraced vineyards and olive groves, cliffside hiking trails and unique ecosystem.
But the colorful, charm-filled towns — which collectively make up a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site — have also been at the forefront of debates about overtourism and are increasingly facing intense meteorological events.
These combined issues have resulted in many Cinque Terre locals abandoning their farms and fishing practices. That, combined with extreme rainfall that has brought about increased landslides and flooding, has posed a threat to Le Cinque Terre’s cultural makeup and put the natural vegetation and marine life at risk.
President of Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre (Cinque Terre National Park), Donatella Bianchi, spoke last week about the need for immediate preventive measures. “It is necessary...to identify new forecasting models and direct future projects that will have to take into account the changed climatic needs,” Bianchi said.
Bianchi and the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre authorities have taken the first steps by outlining a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which was presented last week at the park authority headquarters in Manarola to the mayors of the towns involved.
Though the specific action points of the plan have not yet been released, broadly, the objectives are aimed at recovering some of the terraces destroyed by recent storm surges and saving endangered marine life in the park. The plan was conceived as part of the StoneWallsForLife project — an organization that builds and maintains drystone walls to protect the territory and its inhabitants against the effects of extreme weather conditions. A key partner in the initiative is Legambiente, a non-profit environmentalist association.
Stefano Bigliazzi, President of Legambiente Liguria, claimed that these initiatives mark “the first time that a national park, within its role of protecting nature and biodiversity, has addressed the consequences of climate change.”
In another related move to help safeguard the territory, the region of Liguria decided on a series of measures to better support the residents of the Cinque Terre and mitigate the area’s unchecked overtourism without negatively impacting its economy.
A key part of the initiative includes reducing fares on the Cinque Terre Express train line for residents and students and creating other transport incentives for these groups, while upping fees for visitors.
“We are at a substantial turning point for the Cinque Terre,” explained Governor Giovanni Toti and Augusto Sartori, Regional Council member for Transport and Tourism. ”We are preparing to launch a package of benefits never seen in any other region and dedicated to one of the most loved tourist destinations in the world.”