The project

The project STONEWALLSFORLIFE, funded in the framework of the LIFE Programme “Climate change adaptation”, aims at demonstrating how an ancient technology, drystone walls, can be effectively used to improve the resilience of the territory to climate change. The project showcases the environmental, social and economic benefits of restoring abandoned drystone terraces in two delicate yet peculiar territories: Cinque Terre in Italy and the Garraf Park in Spain.

STONEWALLSFORLIFE aims at repairing drystone walls and ensuring their long-term maintenance, to protect the territory and its inhabitants against the effects of extreme meteorological events. The project also includes an important social aspect: the training of skilled workers in the laying and maintenance of drystone walls, through didactical courses for migrants, unemployed people and disadvantaged categories, to ensure that this knowledge is preserved and passed on.

Through the demonstration intervention, 6 hectares of terraces bounded by drystone walls will be recovered and given back to long-term sustainable agricultural use in Manarola, municipality of Riomaggiore, within the Cinque Terre National Park.

Since the project aims at proposing an approach that can be transferred in other territories in the European Union, preparatory studies for replication interventions will be performed both in Cinque Terre and in the Garraf Park.

Stone monuments

For centuries, the Cinque Terre community has coexisted in a fragile and extreme territory. Entire generations have dedicated to the decomposition and recomposition of the hills, in search of rivers, springs and land to cultivate.

The steep slopes have been sectioned into terraces supported by kilometers-long drystone walls, that have been a technology of choice given their ability to drain water efficiently and, at the same time, to retain the soil, allowing cultivation.

Socio-economical changes of the last 60 years caused the abandonment of farming and led to a fast decline of terraces and drystone walls. The instability of drystone walls and clogging channels are among the main issues behind the most frequent landslide mechanisms in terraced territories, causing rock falls, earth slides and debris flows. Land degradation problems are serious threats to human settlements located in these territories.

STONEWALLSFORLIFE aims at demonstrating the efficacy of drystone walls as climate change adaptation tools, increasing the resistance and the resilience of the territory and protecting its inhabitants.

The project in numbers

The duration of the project is estimated in 5 years; it starts in July 2019 and ends in July 2024.

The project budget is around 3,715,000 euros. The LIFE program will refund 55% of the eligible costs through a EU contribution of around 2,039,000 euros; the rest will be provided by the members of the Consortium through financial contributions or personnel commitment. The financial contribution requested from the Cinque Terre National Park is approximately 970,000 euros.