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Bocca di Magra

 Case study sites

Site description

Keywords: Small catchments, Pocket bays

The Bocca di Magra Case Study site is located at the mouth of Magra River in Italy, Liguria Region, Province of La Spezia, municipality of Ameglia and Sarzana. The territory of the Magra River Basin is classified as mainly mountain and hill area, with absence of lowland territories, even at the mouth of the river. The basin, in its more elevated and steep slopes, presents a wide-spread wooded vegetation interspersed with herbaceous vegetation and bushes used as pastures and meadows. In areas with a milder slope and lowland agricultural and industrial activities are located. The landscape of the Magra River basin is under the determining human influence, not only in what concerns the development of residential and other, but also in what concerns vegetation and agriculture (e.g. expansion of the chestnut grove at the expense of other tree species, creating terraced agricultural areas, etc.). The coastal zone is a very narrow strip of land that descends almost immediately to considerable marine depths, where alternate environments and varied landscapes occur and where most of the human activities are concentrated.

Why was this area selected?

Bocca di Magra was selected in order to test the interaction between the marine flood and the Magra river flood. The particular interest lies in the influence of the marine conditions on the river discharge. Severe weather conditions may generate a high risk state in the coastal areas due to the interaction between marine and river flooding.

Land, coastal and marine uses

Keywords: Ports & marinas, Residential use, Agriculture, Tourism, Fishing & aquaculture, Industry

The spatial heterogeneity of the Magra River basin has an impact on the productive activities developed in the area. Agriculture is mainly developed in inland areas and close to the river, but also in inaccessible areas, through utilization of the Ligurian terracing. The activity is mostly devoted in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and the production of wine. Farmers are occupied with stock-raising activities as well. Fishery is a traditional activity in the area, nowadays enriched by aquaculture and mussel-farming. The industrial activity in the area has developed mainly based on the requirements of the military sector. In the recent years though, there has been a turn towards yacht building industry.
Residential, touristic and navigational activities are also taking place in the area.


Keywords: Marine flood, River flood, Flash flood, Sea level rise, Erosion

The vast extend of human interventions in the area, through the multiple economic activities has caused widespread impermeability of the terrain, preventing the filtration of rainwater and increasing the quantity and speed of water flowing into the river, thus increasing the risk of flooding. In the hydrographic basin of the Magra River a few hours of normal rainfall can result in a high risk of flooding due to river overflow. Flooding phenomena combined to deforestation and the geomorphological structure of the area result in disastrous landslides.
Additionally, the solid silt river contribution to the beach has been reduced over the last few decades, due to undiscriminating extraction of gravel and sand, causing visible retreat of the coastline, endangering the local population and damaging infrastructures and property. The aforementioned situation is aggravated from the extreme wave events that can cause substantial alteration of the coastal morphology.

Socio-Economic losses & Environmental Impacts

Keywords: Infrastructure damage, Property damage, Impact on tourism

The main socio-economic costs originate from the destruction of infrastructure and property due to flooding, erosion and intense wave action. The loss of the relatively narrow shoreline is important as it affects the tourist activity in area. The Magra River Basin Authority is currently implementing measures to defend the coast through the reduction of river excavations, despite the strong socio-economic conflicts regarding this issue, and promotes beach nourishment activities to maintain the shoreline.

Partner in charge

International Centre on Environmental Monitoring

Members of the project’s end-users and stakeholders board

Italian Civil Protection agency

Photo Gallery

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Bocca di Magra 1

Fig.1: Panoramic view of the Bocca di Magra Case Study site.