Investigating the role of alpine forests as Eco-DRR against gravitational hazards: a socio-economic analysis
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The implementation of effective Ecosystem-based solutions for Disaster risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) is still lacking in the current risk management strategies adopted at local level. This can be due to a general concern about their effectiveness and the costs their adoption entails. In mountain areas, protection forests represent a valuable example of Eco-DRR against gravitational hazard. These stands, despite their historical use, are seldom considered as a reliable solution for risk mitigation. The Interreg Alpine Space project “GreenRisk4Alps” aims at recognizing the potential role of protection forest and support their adoption as Eco-DRR. The analysis of the effectiveness of such stands has been accompanied in the project by an economic evaluation. Particularly, the cost and benefits of each available protective measure, and their effectiveness against different hazards has been assessed. The measures considered were artificial structures, as rockfall nets or snow fences; land-use limitations, as construction bans and road closures; and protection forest. The economic evaluation has been carried out across several case studies in the Alps adopting the most suitable evaluation approaches, as Replacement Cost method, Avoided Damages or Benefit Transfer, in relation to the features of the area and the exposed assets. The results of the evaluation represent a valuable information to complement the standard risk analysis. These values, moreover, can help in fostering the role of Eco-DRR among decision-makers and stakeholders involved in the risk governance process and in supporting the development of integrated grey-green risk management strategies to achieve the highest protection level in the most cost-effective way.