Fugro to map habitats of the entire Italian coast


Fugro maps seagrass around Italy in a groundbreaking ecosystem restoration project.

Fugro has been selected to map the coastal habitats of the entire Italian coast as part of the Italian government’s Marine Ecosystem Restoration (MER) Project, a groundbreaking initiative under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) has selected Fugro, in partnership with Compagnia Generale Ripreseaeree (CGR), to leverage their cutting-edge technology and extensive experience in coastal resilience solutions to deliver the crucial mapping component of the MER project, which is set to revolutionise marine conservation and environmental restoration efforts in Italy.

The MER project aims to restore the marine habitats, fortify the national system for observing marine and coastal ecosystems and comprehensively map coastal and marine habitats across Italian waters (specifically Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadows). Fugro and its partners will play a pivotal role in the success of the MER project executing its mapping phase via a mix of mapping methodologies.

The project, which is due to start in March 2024 and be completed by June 2026, includes acquisition of hydrographic data utilising state-of-the-art sensors, including airborne lidar and imagery, airborne gravimetry and satellite sensors covering 10 200 km², vessel-based multibeam technology spanning 4000 km2 and deployment of an autonomous underwater vehicle, one of Fugro’s state-of-the-art underwater drones, to cover 4000 km of coastline for direct observation and ground-truthing of other datasets.

The collected data will be managed through VirGeo®, Fugro’s cloud-based geo-data engagement platform, to provide seabed and habitat mapping insights, enhancing the local government’s decision-making process for the protection of coastal marine habitats.

Giordano Giorgi and Sante Francesco Rende, respectively project director and technical director at ISPRA said: “We are delighted to announce the award of this project to a consortium led by Fugro and its partner, CGR. This contract signifies a significant milestone in our environmental efforts within the PNRR Marine Ecosystem Restoration project and specifically aligns with Mission 2: Green Revolution and Ecological Transition and the objectives to protect the territory and water resources and restore and protect the seabed and marine environments. The project is administered by the Ministry of Environment and Energy Security, with funding from the European Union’s Next Generation EU programme.”

Mark Heine, Fugro’s CEO, said: “The MER project represents a milestone in marine ecosystem restoration. We’re delighted with this opportunity from ISPRA to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship and climate resilience. Our geo-data for this transformative project will support the conservation and restoration of Italy’s coastal and marine ecosystems for generations to come spearheading the drive towards a sustainable future for Italy’s marine heritage, for a safer and more liveable world.”