First analysis of the Pollina River basin in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily

Conduct a thorough analysis of the Pollina River to identify and prioritise barriers for removal, facilitating eel migration and habitat restoration.

Introduction

The Pollina River, a key example of a Mediterranean temporary river, stretches 34 km from its headwaters to the sea, covering high altitudes and significant natural areas, including parts of the Madonie Regional Park. The river basin includes various Nature 2000 sites and historically supports the European eel, a species now rarely found due to river fragmentation. Despite the river’s high overall environmental quality, barriers near the river’s mouth disrupt hydromorphological dynamics, affecting water permanence and habitat availability for the eel and other species. 

At a glance

Project typeBarrier identification and prioritisation
Project statusLive
CountryItaly
RiverPollina
Focal speciesEuropean eel
Project websiteCollettivo Rewild Sicily

Project context and opportunity

The Pollina River faces challenges from existing barriers that hinder natural sediment flow and limit the accessibility of habitats crucial for species like the European eel. While the water quality is rated as ‘good,’ the ecological condition, especially concerning macrophytes, is ‘poor.’ Removing these barriers presents an opportunity to restore the river’s natural state, reconnect habitats and support biodiversity. This project aims to address the lack of comprehensive barrier data and promote the benefits of barrier removal to decision-makers and the public, setting a precedent for future river restoration efforts in Sicily and beyond. 

Project aims

The project’s primary goal is to conduct a thorough analysis of the Pollina River to identify and prioritise barriers for removal, facilitating eel migration and habitat restoration. This will involve: 

Study Work Package (WP): 

  • Conducting preparatory desk research to review existing barrier and eel population data. 
  • Implementing participatory field visits to map barriers and assess habitat availability. 
  • Synthesising data to produce a comprehensive study and prioritisation of barriers for removal. 

Advocacy Work Package (WP): 

  • Engaging decision-makers and stakeholders through round tables, field visits, and public discussions. 
  • Promoting awareness of the ecological benefits of barrier removal through social media, a documentary, and an infographic. 
  • Building local capacity and public support for future barrier removal initiatives. 

The project aims to gather accurate data, foster community support, and create a replicable model for barrier removal in other regions by involving citizen scientists and local knowledge. 

Partners