Nature-based solutions are being implemented in two places in the French-Spanish border in the framework of the Phusicos project: Artouste & Santa Elena. On 17th June, a visit to these two sites was organized by the EGTC Espace Portalet, the Working Community of the Pyrenees and the Pyrenean Climate Change Observatory in order to demonstrate that nature-based solutions can reduce the risk of extraordinary meteorological events and are viable, cost-effective and replicable.The visit aimed to analyse the extent of problems such as upward erosion and block falls affecting the road in both sites, as well as to assess how the solutions are working and any other possible technical solutions.
Specifically, participants visited Artouste’s forested mountainsides, where block falls are common due to terrain instability near the road. Slopes next to the road are covered in beechs and fir trees, with high, medium and low diameters and densities, on slopes of 100% gradient and above. The solutions implemented are based on active measures such as manual stabilisation or wooden structures that stabilise the rock massifs, as well as passive measures based on wood or stone structures that slow down or divert the blocks in their trajectories, enhancing the protective role of the forest.
On the Spanish side, the Santa Elena site features a morainic slope with problems of rebound erosion. Incidents are frequent, thus the slope has been protected with cable netting that is ineffective due to the instability of the blocks embedded in the moraine, with volumes greater than 1 m3 that can reach the roadway. The solutions implemented in the framework of Phusicos include the creation of masonry terraces, bio-engineering and plating of native vegetation to reduce runoff, improve infiltration and drainage while stabilising the morainic slope in general and the blocks in particular.
Twenty people participated, including local authorities and organisations involved in road and water management, as well as companies and organisations who work on territorial development and employment.
Mountain regions are especially vulnerable to the impacts of small and frequent events for which nature-based solutions are key to attenuate or event prevent. Phusicos is a H2020 funded project that will demonstrate that the benefits of nature-inspired solutions increase the ecological, social and economic resilience of local communities. In-depth analysis of natural hazards is being carried out in the framework of Phusicos, with the best available technologies so as to find the most accurate solutions. All works are supervised by a group of European experts who are part of the project.