In Italy, reclamation activity occurred mainly in the last century to recover portion of land for agriculture or for building new villages. The reclamation was not only hydric but also hygienic: the reclamation of marshland solved the problem of mosquitos – the main carriers of malaria – thus contributing to improve the inhabitant’s life.
The most significant episode of land reclamation in the Italian history is the one happened in the territory called “Agro Pontino”, southern Rome, in the Twenties of the XX century. In this case, the intervention was total: reclamation of the land, roads maintenance, development of urban areas and construction of real villages, still existing. Even the Po Valley, and in particular the area of Venice have been object of important reclamation activity, which allow us to enjoy still today the beauty and uniqueness of landscapes such as that of the lagoon.
Another episode of reclamation work is the one happened in the Netherlands at the beginning of the XX century when an entire region was preserved from tides thanks to an efficient system of dams, that, even today, prevents the land below the sea level from being flooded.
Further back in time we find the Aswan dam, in Egypt, built between 1889 and 1912 to stop Nile River floods. What was considered a magnificent example of civil and industrial engineering helped to recover hectares of cultivable land.
Today, land reclamation activities are managed by public cooperatives, constituted by private owners of real estate or land portion inside a specific area. Obviously, the work of these organizations is peculiar according to the type of territory in which they operate: water regulation through lifting systems, construction and maintenance of drainage net, intervention in case of specific weather conditions, prevention of erosion and landslips, safeguard of productive grounds, grass cutting along ditches, forestry works.
The activity of these cooperatives is fundamental for their role as “guardians” of the territory through a constant and diligent observation of the land and the hydric system. Because of their deep knowledge of the territory, the cooperatives are often involved in territorial and urban planning, for the prevention and the safeguard from the environment pollution and for the protection of the soil.
In the past, land reclamation used to represent not only an engineering and technical development, but also an opportunity to imporve life conditions of the population. Today, it is an example of requalification of polluted areas brought back to their natural state and of prevention of environment damages.