top of page




01 About

The Barena Association is dedicated to the long-term wellbeing of the Northern Venetian Lagoon, its unique wetland environment, fauna and flora, and indigenous culture and traditions. Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative sustainability projects that protect vulnerable salt marshes from untimely erosion, wildlife from extinction and depopulation, while restoring balance to the threatened ecosystem and local community growth. We monitor native islands in the northern lagoon and support projects that encourage non-tourism-oriented repopulation.


Based in Switzerland, the association is spearheaded by Allison Zurfluh and co-founded with Pietro Rusconi and Silvia Bracher. Alongside professionals in a variety of fields, our advisory committee includes locals such as Domenico Rossi, Massimiliano Bovo and the Trattoria al Gatto Nero, Alberto Barausse of the University of Padova and the privately-owned island Isola Santa Cristina. We seek to bring concrete, no-nonsense support by collecting and providing direct funding to projects that make a tangible impact on this environment. 


Executive Committee

A  _edited_edited_edited_edited_edited.jpg

Allison Zurfluh

Co-founder and President

Pietro Rusconi_edited.jpg

Pietro Rusconi


Silvia Bracher_edited.jpg

Silvia Bracher

Co-founder and Treasurer

Advisory Committee

Domenico Rossi_edited_edited.jpg

Domenico Rossi

Fishing Advisor

Alberto Barausse_edited.jpg

Alberto Barausse

Scientific Advisor

Massi Bovo 2_edited.jpg

Massimiliano Bovo

Venice Lagoon Advisor


Emily Juchau_edited.jpg

Emily Juchau


02 SOS Barena project 

Currently, our main mission is to raise funds for the SOS Barena project, which seeks to restore and protect sections of the intertidal salt marshes (known locally as Barene) that are at risk of erosion. The unique habitats of the Lagoon are rapidly disappearing, partly due to natural processes but primarily as a result of human impact.

IMG_7533 (1).jpg

What is so important about the wetlands?

Environmental sustainability

Salt marshes not only host a rich biodiversity in terms of habitats, fauna and flora, but are among the ecosystems that sequester the most carbon per unit surface. If Venetian salt marshes erode, not only will their climate change mitigation potential be lost, but the carbon they store may partly return to the atmosphere and exacerbate climate change. Protecting these habitats is vital for climate change mitigation.

The presence of wetlands also provides concrete benefits to humans known as ecosystem services: these areas capture carbon dioxide from the air, mitigate climate change, abate pollutants in the water, represent reservoirs of water to be used for irrigation or for storing the peak discharge of rivers (thus reducing flood risk), and support economic activities such as fishing, hunting and eco-tourism. 

How is the work done?

We rely on the expertise gained through the University of Padova's LIFE VIMINE project to fund nature-based solutions, consisting in the construction of barriers of fascines made with biodegradable material such as recycled woods and in the micro-pumping of sediments, with the goal of protecting marshes from waves and, ultimately, of restoring marsh vegetation whose roots will then autonomously protect marsh soil from erosion. 

photo three.jpg

Mud added behind the fascines is colonized by halophyte plants.

fascines ready to use.jpg

Hand-made fascine are unloaded onto the salt marsh.

How does this impact the local community?

Cultural sustainability
A key ingredient of our socio-ecological approach is local labour, provided by fishermen, with whom we work to construct nature-based solutions for salt marsh conservation and long-term maintenance. Working with nature-based solutions and manual labour allows us to respect the very delicate Venetian salt marshes, which can be easily damaged during the more typical hard-engineering restoration works that aim to protect them.

These fishermen are experts in the shallow lagoon environment, and they are able to work in a cost-effective manner. This creates an income support tool (local jobs besides fishing) for fishermen in the Lagoon, which is vital to keeping alive traditional fishing methods in a moment of crisis for lagoon fisheries.


Combining nature-based solutions and the involvement of local fishermen as “lagoon stewards”, we aim to tackle two types of erosion: salt marsh erosion, and the erosion of the very social fabric of the lagoon islands.


03 donate

Currently, all donations are applied directly to the SOS Barena project to cover the costs of materials, local labour and the necessary logistical expenses. We accept and are grateful for donations of any amount via credit card or wire transfer.


Wire Transfer

Barena Association

St. Johanns-Vorstadt 7 | 4056 Basel | Switzerland

Raiffeisenbank Leimental Genossenschaft



In Swiss Francs

CH088080 8007 3017 6332 7

In Euros

CH80 8080 8003 6193 4821 8


04 contact

Allison Zurfluh, President

Tel: ++41 76 345 3554 |  ++39 388 325 5635

St. Johanns-Vorstadt 7 | 4056 Basel | Switzerland

bottom of page