From reclamation to environment protection

Written by  Rodolfo Milanesi
The Land Reclamation Consortium in the second discrict of Polesine di S. Giogio celebrates four centuries of history.
Four centuries of history. Four hundred years of life and uninterrupted activity on behalf of Ferrara's interland, from land reclamation in the literal sense (drainage, reclaiming the marshes) to the modern conception of defending the land and the environment, an essential precondition for all economic and social development. 2005 is not a year like any other for the Land Reclamation Consortium in the second district of Polesine di S. Giorgio: it is a time for celebrations, festivities and to honour our landscape.

The story began on 22 December 1605 at the Castello Estense. Before the notary Bonifacio Felloni the first Deputation of the Polesine di San Giorgio was appointed to represent the farmers in the zone. The same legal document describes the role of the twelve elected members. Thus was born the organisation dedicated to defending the hydraulic systems of the district, at a time when the disorderly condition of the waters posed a serious threat.

From then on, through centuries of changing historical and economic circumstances, the land reclamation consortium has been constantly involved in renewal and modernisation to meet the needs of the region and society. Land reclamation has meant different things at different times: keeping open the waterways, improvements to the land and agriculture, sanitary works in the rural areas. The focus of the Consortium has changed down the years and only since 1900 has the consortium been so closely involved in organisational and infrastructure aspects for the purposes of production in the different local areas.

The Consortium is a self-governing body of users and landowners in the area for which it is responsible, an organisation that is able to coordinate public and private local representatives.

It is a public law body combining private participation - financial and administrative - for operations and maintenance, with public involvement in financing exceptional maintenance and new works.

With land reclamation work no longer required, the objectives which the Consortium is called upon to pursue today are protecting the territory from hydro-geological risks, for the stability of production and infrastructure; the even distribution of the available water resources; and, by safeguarding the extensive network of bodies of surface water, environmental protection.

These are issues that have increasingly required the Consortium to consult local organisations, most recently the regional Civil Protection Service.
We hope that this four hundredth anniversary will be an occasion for all those who live and work on these lands to come together to consider and understand how our territory was born of the determination and perseverance of man, through a long and tireless process of protection and care.

The Land Reclamation Consortium aims to celebrate the anniversary with a series of events throughout the year both in Ferrara itself and outside, in the district for which it is responsible.