A planned destruction: my beloved Parco della Piana

IMG_0654The Parco della Piana is one of the very few bird reserves in the province of Florence (in my opinion, it is also the best, by far!). Many different bird species go through their annual courtship rituals, build their nests and raise their young on the shores or little islands of this reserve’s lakes…I’m talking about the elegant black-winged stilts, herons and ducks of all sorts, kingfishers, bitterns, little grebes, great-crested grebes, coots and others. And finally, many other bird species live at the Parco della Piana year round or stop there to rest and fill their beaks on their way north or south, depending on the season. A partial list includes woodpeckers, warblers, swallows, least flycatchers, snipes, egrets, pheasants, hawks, pied flycatchers, nightingales, great tits, wrynecks, spoonbills, the occasional flamingo or two…and many others, of course…IMG_1413

In short, the Parco della Piana bird reserve, located in the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino just outside of Florence, provides a lovely, peaceful and biodiverse habitat for many species…oh, and not just for birds but also for hares, frogs, butterflies, turtles, weird-looking dragonflies, etc. It is a haven that gives much joy to those of us who go there as often as possible…There is even a family picnic area with a barbecue…

Speaking of families, it’s free to the public.

But time is running out for the Parco della Piana. Why? Because of an unnecessary runway. Yes, a stupid runway.

IMG_0099The airport in Florence was built in the 1930s, and since then various attempts have been made to expand it. Some of the runways have been extended to a certain degree, but the problem is that the airport is located in the middle of the crowded province of Florence, which includes various municipalities such as Prato and Campi Bisenzio. Between the human communities AND the hills and mountains that surround Florence, there is really no space where longer runways can be built…

With one possible exception: in the direction of, and on top of!, the Parco della Piana bird reserve, which is close to the A11 (Florence-Pisa) highway…

IMG_0421And so, in July 2014, the Regional Council of Tuscany voted in favor of building a new, 2,000-meter-long runway that would run parallel to  the A11 highway…in spite of the outcry and protests from entire communities whose lives would be disrupted by the noise and pollution that a new runway entails…

But this project goes beyond noise, disruption and pollution. The building of a new runway at the airport of Florence makes NO SENSE AT ALL. The obvious and sensible alternative would instead be to improve the train service between the cities of Florence and Pisa. Pisa, you see, already HAS an International Airport – a mere hour’s drive/ride from Florence. And even now there are trains that shuttle passengers from the train station in Florence directly to the international airport in Pisa. Stefano and I have made that short trip many times, luggage and all. Easy peasy. IMG_0064

Furthermore, the price of improving the above-mentioned Florence-Pisa transportation system would be nickels and dimes compared to the outrageous costs of building a new runway here in Florence.

But I don’t want to go on and on about the greed, stupidity and nearsightedness of those who voted for the new runway…or even attempt to prove my point that Tuscany doesn’t need more than ONE international airport (that much is obvious).

IMG_5061My purpose in writing this post is to make an appeal to those of you who enjoy bird watching or care about nature in general. Please help me take action. And while I try to come up with more ideas on what to do to save our precious bird reserve, here is a list of things that you can do RIGHT NOW to show your support:

  1. IMG_6603If you are a member of Facebook, please join the Parco della Piana bird reserve’s Page, titled “Gli amici del Parco della Piana di Sesto F.no (ANPIL Podere la Querciola”). Here is the direct link to the reserve’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/102148033156668/ Note: many of the reserve’s bird watchers/photographers post their beautiful photos (all taken at the reserve, of course) on this Page, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t know any Italian. You can still enjoy and “like” the photos, and you can also leave comments in your native language.
  2. As a member of Facebook, you can also join the group “Piana Sana,” which translates as “Healthy Piana,” founded by concerned Tuscan citizens who oppose the new runway project: https://www.facebook.com/pianasana/timeline The interactive maps posted on this Page show clearly that the new runway goes right over our bird reserve. 12.07.28-Parco della Piana-0005
  3. The next time you plan to visit Florence, please think about spending a few hours at the Parco della Piana. It’s a peaceful place that can give you a bit of a rest from your hectic sightseeing in Florence, a place where you can sit and rest in one of the bird hides built around the reserve’s lakes and take photos of bird species that might be rare in your country. And here’s an ADDED BONUS: if you want directions to the park, get in touch with me…in fact, I will try to find the time to take you there, myself!  🙂
  4. I just learned of a petition asking the Italian Minister of the Environment, Land, and Sea to designate an independent, experienced corporation to look into the environmental impact that the new runway would have on the entire area. You can sign the petition, too, at this link: http://goo.gl/yUp54E
  5. IMG_5821Last but not least, please help me spread the word about the planned destruction of this precious habitat. Share my post on Facebook (etc.), ask your friends to join the above-mentioned groups, etc.

In conclusion, Florence doesn’t need a new 2,000-meter-long runway that will impact and disrupt so many lives – not just the lives of all the birds and animals that depend on this green area for their survival but also the lives of all the people who live in and around the area where the new runway would be built.

Perhaps we won’t be able to stop this outrage from happening, but we just can’t sit back and do nothing. It’s time to SAY NO TO THE NEW RUNWAY PROJECT. And in fact the number of people who oppose the project has been increasing…petitions have been circulating, etc.

So I believe it can be done. With your help, too!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
[Margaret Mead]

Thank you for your support!!!

P.S. I took all these photos at the Parco della Piana reserve in different time periods/years…

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