The Cinque Terre Park
The Cinque Terre Park, with its 3,860 hectares, is Italy’s smallest national park and the most populated one at the same time, with about 4,000 inhabitants divided into five hamlets: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
What makes this territory special in comparison with other territories, is that here the natural environment has been deeply changed by human actions.
For centuries the inhabitants of the Cinque Terre sectioned the steep slopes of the hills to obtain stripes of land to cultivate them. All of those narrow flat portions of land called “ciàn” are supported by dry-stone walls, which is the real characterizing feature that made Cinque Terre famous all over the world. The human intervention created an architecture of terraces on a territory which develops in a vertical direction, making the landscape atypical and markedly anthropized: this is the reason why it is called “Parco dell’Uomo” (Man’s Park).
The National Park especially focuses on the safeguard of this peculiarity which, due to the physiological neglect of the agricultural activities by industrial society, led to landscape decay phenomena. Whereas the other parks are usually established with the aim of protecting them from the daily human presence, here the Park Authority aims at bringing man back to this landscape in order to cultivate it and take care of it, rediscovering and repeating the ancient actions of those who made the Cinque Terre’s territory be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The key words for the future of the park and the region is sustainable development. The resources must be managed so that the economic, social and aesthetic needs can be met, maintaing the cultural integrity, the essential ecological processes, the biological diversity and the life systems in the area at hand (development of the economic activities, sharing of the knowledges and of the goals among the citizens and passing them down to the next generations).
Being aware of how the Cinque Terre territory represents a priceless resource leads the local administrations to implement policies to support a social fabric made of small enterprises, in order to foster a fairer distribution of richness, and to offer the young generations the opportunity to be the protagonists in their villages, without being forced to leave their territories, that would feel the effects of such an abandonment.