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Results so far : Fourth Thematic Seminar on Risk Evaluation in Forli, Italy

Date: 28-10-2010 - 29-10-2010
Time: 09:00 - 18:00
Location: Forli, Italy


On the 28th and 29th of October, the fourth thematic seminar for the MiSRaR project will be organized in the city of Forli, Italy, During this seminar partners will  discuss the lessons learned in the first three seminars.  An important topic is to have  discussion and create joint understanding on the best practices identified for the three steps of Risk assesment: Risk identification, Risk analysis and Risk evaluation.
An expert of Basin Authority will inform the partners about Risk assessment in Provincia di Forlì-Cesena. An other presentation will be given by the Civil Protection Unit of Forli Cescena about the organisation of Civil Protection in Italy.
Other presentations will be given on the activity of volunteering associations of civil protection, the dike by Romagna Acque Spa and the landslide area (by the Regional Unit for Water Resources Technical Management)

partners will visit the Operative Centre of Civil Protection, the Capaccio Operational Centre of Ridracoli Dike and a landslide area.



In this report:
The seminar in Forli was launched by the vice president of the Forli-Cesena province and the head of the European projects unit, Marina Flamigni.

Risk Assessment in Provincia-Cesena, Mr. Zani  <<<
The working meeting started with an introduction of all new involved technical staff attending the meeting. The short introductions were followed by a presentation by mr. Oscar Zini of the River Basin Authority of the Forli-Cesena province. Mr. Zini introduced the risk assessment practices in the fields of land slide management and how threats are being mitigated in the Forli-Cesena region. Methodologies on the risk assessment in the region were introduced and the attending partners were made able to compare these methodologies with their own practices.

In the Forli-Cesena practice landslide maps and land use maps are combined to create a combined analysis of the relative risk, reflected in a relative risk map. Mr. Zini introduced a number of risk maps indicating how identified landslide risks are combined with actual human activities in the region. Forli-Cesena uses a classification of areas at risk, each classification has an own specific value, which allows for a numerical evaluation of each unit of land area. In case of identified high risk and possible negative results, the specific land units are not being used and the identified areas are in theory taking into account in the risk mitigation policies.

However, a number of threats have been identified. Lack of money and lack of political commitment are threatening the success of the implementation of these policies and often, the results of this methodology are not taking into account when making priorities. Also the method needs further improving. Vulnerability of the area is not considered and finally the identified land units do not always fit the size of the landslides themselves. Input from the project can be used to further develop these policies and experiences elsewhere with the risk assessment practice.

Forli-Cesena is currently using and implementing a new strategy, incorporating a number of different types of landslides which all have their own specific results. Partners asked questions about the difference between absolute and relative risks, which basically represents the difference between risk in theory and the risk in practice in terms of implementing assessments. A second question concerned the political and operational organization in this field. Basically the Basin Authority is not a body headed by a political body, but the authority provides the planning which are decided on by the politicians. Another question concerned if decision were made in the past not taking into account risks assessed by the authority. This is however more than 10 years ago, in the current timeframe, building permits are not issued without approval related to the analysis of landslide risks. Another question concerned the use of cost-benefit analysis in the methodology. This analysis is still rudimentary. General descriptions are used to describe the costs, but the process to determine this is basic. Another issue discussed was the lack of funding for these policies. Even though the region has a very good operational system in place, budget to implement new operational policies, and actual mitigation measures. The planning method is operating, but the follow up in the operational field is very limited, because there is no money made available by the central government. There is money for relieve, when a large event happens, but not to prevent them. Forli-Cesena aims to involve decision makers in the area, to make them aware of the importance of mitigation and provide the funding for mitigation actions. Even though the value of an area is considered in the method, they do not take into account the actual vulnerability of the area. One cannot automatically assume that the value of the area will also automatically be part of what will be destroyed. This is a weak point in the current methodology which has to be improved in the upcoming period, because in the cost benefit assessment, the actual benefit is calculated wrong. The area saved is not per se the same as the total worth of the whole area.

Organization of Civil Protection in Italy, Ms Claudia Casadei  <<<
The second presentation was held by Ms. Claudia Casadei, which concerned the organization of civil protection in Italy as part of the risk mitigation process in the Forli-Cesena area. Civil Protection primarily focus on prevention of risks and therefore collects information, classifies risks and draft prevision and prevention plans. The province directly assists the municipalities in their front line work with the civilians. An overview was given on the multiple challenges in the Forli-Cesena province, due to its very diverse geographical situation. Forests, mountains, hills, rivers and the coastal areas create a number of potential risks which requires a pluriform policy in which the CP Service plays a crucial role in prevention and response. The CP Service includes all operating and public bodies on multiple levels. Based on the subsidiary principle, each event requires a different level of public body and operational bodies involved. The type A event is at the level of the municipality. The mayor is the principle responsible body. If the event is bigger than the municipal level, the mayor will ask for a regional approach which is coordinated by the civil protection unit. The province itself is not part of the coordination, but is only involved in the planning exercises. The province does provide support however. Only if the event requires a national coordination (type C) the national civil protection department manages the event in cooperation with the regional Services also from other regions. In this type of event a state of emergency is declared.

Volunteers play a significant role in the civil protection field. The province has 600 volunteers who are provided with equipment by the province and are coordinated by the province management. Partners wondered how volunteers have been recruited. Most of the participants are recruited by meetings, but the volunteers are part of an Italian tradition, which is still very strong. So they are part of community driven resource. Volunteers are trained centrally, provided with the same equipment ensuring the quality of their work. The means for the organizations are bought by the province and supplied to the organizations. Unfortunately financial resources are very limited. Volunteers are also used for provincial forest fire prevention, which is a specific responsibility of the Province. The province very specifically assists municipalities with the development of municipal emergency plans. These plans are redefined every 5-10 years. Also some municipalities don’t have such a plan, especially the smaller ones. There is a judicial obligation for each municipality, but there are no sanctions when municipalities don’t comply.

Partners informed how the types of events are scaled? When an event happens, it is not named. It always starts as an A event. If the major is not able to manage it, he scales up and it becomes B. If national department comes it is automatically C. It is also specifically related to money. There is money for type C events, which can only be used in the case of a type C case. This is national funding.

Identified best practices in the whole risk assessment phase  <<<
The first three seminars targeted the three steps concerning the risk assessment phase; hazard identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. The meeting in Forli was specifically prepared to create a common understanding of the practices presented and its relevance to the different partners in the different theme’s per risk assessment phase. The Lead Partners created a list of best practice and discussed if the identification of this list is correct and if the partners have comments on the suggested differentiation. Partners indicate that the commonly agreed set up and the linkage with the practices presented create a very clear picture of the whole risk assessment phase in the risk mitigation process, which has been very helpful for the further development of their own policies.

An interactive session was held by Ruud Houdijk and Nico van Os, targeting which practices have been helpful to the partners. Partners were asked to identify the relevance of the identified practices to them and indicate their specific interest for further incorporation of the practices presented during the first three seminars. Partners were asked to separate between the different hazard types where relevant and specifically target the overall process and how it relates to each specific threat.

Mirandela indicated that the practices in ZHZ and Aveiro have been very helpful to the development of the policies in Mirandela, specifically in the field of disaster mapping. Aveiro indicated that the practice in ZHZ is similar to what is being used in Aveiro. The experiences are therefore mutually interesting. Aveiro is only concerned with risk mitigation in the field of flooding and the experiences in the mitigation setting. The Lead Partner proposes that in the next session more specific attention will be given to this issues.

EPF indicated that the long time planning concerning risk mitigation in the ZHZ area is of great value to improve the policy in Gabrovo in general. Not so much specifically related to the flood threat, but the mitigation policy in general – how the long term planning is developed, who is involved, how is it organized – the whole methodology.

Mirandela indicated that they have specific interest in the risk assessment methodology, how institutions are working together – and how risk mapping is integrated in the planning. In Portugal there are numerous risk mapping activities, but they are poorly integrated in the planning. There is also great interest in the mapping in general and questions like: are all maps the same, are different policies used per map, how is it integrated?

Thesprotia indicated that they are more specifically interested in the mitigation of fires in the Forli-Cesena province. The operational level of risk mitigation is of great relevance to the Greece situation, but in Greece they are aware of response action, but not the prevention and mitigation of the threats. Is it feasible to integrate the Italian practice in the Greece situation. Thesprotia also indicated that they are interested the practices in Mirandela and how their presented forest fire mitigation processes could be used in Greece.

Aveiro indicated that the digital mapping practice in ZHZ – the technical system – is of great relevance to the Aveiro mitigation process. The system in Holland is much more advance than the Portugese systems and it would be very helpful to enrich the Portugese practices with the experiences in this field in the Netherlands. Aveiro is also interested hydraulic issues, regarding tides, weather and how it’s threats are identified.
Forli-Cesena indicated that they are interested to incorporate practices in the field of risk assessment. There is a lack of  communication with the citizens, but also we lack instruments that can be used to provide politicians with instruments to improve decision taking and as a result the whole mitigation process. The methodology used in Holland is very helpful and useful in Forli and they would like to take over the instruments. Forli-Cesena indicated that the fire mitigation systems are 15 years old and rely heavenly on volunteers. They are very interested in updated detection systems which could be used in the region to mitigate forest fires. Thesprotia indicates they are in contact with the academic community in this field and are aware of newly developed practices. Mirandela indicated that surveillance is also an issue in their region and would also be interested in practices in this field available.

Regarding Forest Fires, Mirandela indicated the following interests. Mirandela is interested in the methodologies to assess risks, how different institutions are used and regarding the use of risk maps, how do you translate this to mitigation activities/planning. How maps can be used to forecast accidents and translate them into prevention measures. Also the involvement of NGO’s Tallinn indicated that the risk mapping andrisk mitigation in ZHZ was very useful, and also the specific attention given to the NATURA 2000 dimension of risk mitigation.

Tallinn indicates that they very specifically want to follow up on the practices used in the Netherlands and would appreciate further support in the transfer of these practices to the Tallinn situation.
Also Forli indicated to be interested to join this initiative – linking their N2000 initiatives to practices used in Netherlands, specifically the mitigation of the N2000 sites. Forli indicates they lack experience with the management of the site and would specifically like to develop an overall approach and a common understanding of how the management can be improved, since it is not being implemented at the moment. Mirandela indicates that in the field of N2000, since it is nationally managed, they specifically are interested in the relation to the population. How can they be sensitized, informed and how reducing threats can be communicated to the populace.
Gabrovo indicates they would like to combine both forest fires with N2000 sites, especially taking into account that these areas are difficult to reach. The Gabrovo experts are interested in how risks or the habitat can be mitigated and how partners are dealing with this. Also the role of the population on this issue is big and Gabrovo, like Mirandela, is interested in the sensitivity of the populations to this project.

Based on the specific needs it was suggested to adapt some of the settings of the workshop so partners can more specifically work in the exchange of best practices identified during the project and create a more tailor made, needs based approach. This way the instruments identified, linked to the needs of the partners, can more effectively be transferred to the practices elsewhere.

civil protection service  <<<
In the afternoon a visit was organized to the civil protection service in Forli. A presentation was given by a representative of the CPS. An overview has been given on the organization of civil protection and how all levels of government relate to each other (from National, Regional, Provincial, Local). All operational partners were introduced in the system. The specific challenges of working with a volunteer force in the civil protection area were introduced, such as the different backgrounds of the personnel, the number of different associations of volunteers. The training for the volunteers was introduced and how they contribute to mitigation initiatives in the region.

Redefining risk and risk assessment  <<<
The last part of the program on the first day focused on the terminology and redefinition of the terminology. It was the specific objective of the meeting in Forli to sum up the experiences and practices in this field during the first three seminars, and suggestions are done to all partners for conclusion on the risk assessment process. These conclusion will be used in the drafting of the brochures and handbook later on in the project.

One major reason for some alterations to the first setting is the fact that the EU is currently defining a new risk mitigation guideline. In the opinion of the Lead Partner it is therefore of great importance to align the theories used in the project and the theoretical set up of the European guidelines enabling the results of the project per partner to be put in line with the European requirement in this field. All partners agreed on this proposal.

Based on the best practices identified in the seminars, a combined definition of what constitutes risk assessment has been proposed by the project partners. The four elements are hazard (probability & susceptibility) and potential damage (vulnerability & (loss of cultural heritage, social/emotional harm, territorial integrity, ecological harm, casualties, economic value)). The partners agree on the use of the proposed European terminology. A specific difference is made between two different aspects; risk identification is mapping risks, risk analysis is measuring them.

Partners are asked if they also agree with the set up of risk assessment in three steps, based on the practices in the first 3 seminars. It consists of 3 steps – risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. Hazard identification will be interpreted as the process of finding, recognizing and describing risks. Risk analysis is the process to comprehend the nature of risk and to determine the level of risk. Risk evaluation is the process of comparing the results of risk analysis with risk criteria to determine whether the risk an/or it’s magnitude is acceptable or tolerable.

Discussion was held on to what extend information resulting from analysis etc. should be shared with the population at all times. Even though awareness is of great importance, unnecessary worries or panic have to be avoided. Also decision taking by the public, for example regarding housing is an area in which full information provision is often highly relevant. Partners indicated that in some cases there is no requirement to implement risk mapping activities and that the technological level is quite different from one place to the other. Elaborate risk assessment software might be very interesting but often financial restrictions limit the possibilities throughout Europe. This is also true for requirements in line with the to be developed EC guidelines. In many cases implementing might prove to be difficult, when resources are not available. On the other hand national governments provide national risk maps, which form a rudimentary first approach to risk assessment and lack specifics which might improve the regional implementation of risk assessment, but despite the lack of specificity, to start out with national mapping is a first step in a process leading in the long run to a more regional or local approach.

During the rest of the afternoon session the partners discuss the shared understanding on the goals of the three steps, how to do it, who are involved and what the results of each step should be. Also partners are required to provide suggestions for addition to the already identified instruments, success factors in their work, difficulties encountered and lessons learned. The commonly agreed ideas will be used for the drafting of the brochures and handbook, including a set of best practices identified during the seminars.

29th of October

Visit Ridracoli and landslide area  <<<
On the second day of the seminar, two field visit were organized to two major disaster mitigation related sites in the Forli-Cesena province. In the morning a huge water dam near Ridracoli. In the control center a presentation was given on the operational work of the dam, its effects on the surroundings and the development of water management in the region. Also the operational centre was visited near the dam, and a presentation was given on the operational challenges. Finally a presentation was given on the landslide dangers in the mountainous area of Forli-Cesena and how for example these dangers had to be mitigated in relation to the construction of the dam.
In the afternoon a landslide area was visited near Berleta, were a landslide had occurred in March. Geologist provided information on the development of landslides, its effects and how follow up is mitigated (and in which cases not).
The mitigation methodology is at the heart of this process, but in the case of Forli-Cesena, it is not always systematically applied.

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