LIFE Project Cover Photo


Reference: LIFE11 ENV/IT/000275 | Acronym: ECOREMED



Soil pollution is an increasing concern for the environment, for water systems and for public health, due to the possibility of pollutant accumulation in the food chain. Soil pollution has increased because of industrial pollution, mining and the over-application of fertilisers, which have added “potentially toxic elements” (PTEs) to the soil. Use of fossil fuels also releases compounds - including numerous organic contaminants - into the environment, which are now present in soils and water.

In Campania, southern Italy, four National Interest Priority Sites (NIPS) of soil pollution have been identified, covering around 200 000 ha. In two urban NIPS - Napoli Orientale and Bagnoli-Coroglio - the storage of petroleum-derived compounds, the steel industry and asbestos cement production are the main sources of pollution. The Litorale Vesuviano site is characterised by inadequate management of municipal waste, whilst Litorale Domitio-Agro Aversano is mainly agricultural land polluted by illegal dumping of industrial and municipal waste.


The 'ECOREMED' project aimed to:

  • Define an operative protocol for agriculture-based bioremediation of contaminated agricultural soils in the “Litorale Domitio-Agro Aversano” NIPS;
  • Demonstrate the effects of this protocol in specific polluted areas in three municipalities;
  • Support farmers with regulatory and financial tools aimed at improving the reclamation of degraded agricultural soils, thus restoring agronomic fertility and improving the landscape;
  • Create an operative link between the technical-scientific protocols produced by 'ECOREMED' and local and regional administrations;
  • Define environmental quality indicators that could be used in the environmental regulatory framework; and
  • Raise awareness of the importance of addressing soil pollution, and of the potential of bioremediation.


    The 'ECOREMED'project has successfully provided local, regional and national policy makers with concrete tools to allow evidence-based decision making on contaminated agricultural soils. Specifically, it defined an operative protocol for bioremediation of contaminated agricultural soils in the Litorale Domitio-Agro Aversano and demonstrated its effectiveness in polluted agricultural areas of five pilot sites and one extra industrial site.

    The project defined environmental quality indicators and provided useful baseline soil quality data that can be used in the environmental regulatory framework with a focus on the bio-availability of pollutants in soil and plants.

    Direct environmental benefits were related to the sites in which the protocol was applied:

  • 10 000 m2 (1 ha) of soils polluted with different contaminants were cleaned up and given back to agricultural use (two sites will be returned to their owners by the end of 2017);
  • Phyto-remediation plants and trees reduced contaminant movements toward groundwater by 30 % and achieved 65 % efficacy in removing organic pollutants;
  • The phyto-remediation effects were clearly visible at three of the four sites, having changed their nature from abandoned to arbourous and pleasant-to-see;
  • Increase in organic soil matter (C storage) was different at each site, but reached up to 2 t/ha (in 30 cm soil layer), contributing to improving soil quality and also to climate change mitigation;
  • The arboreal plants and underlying grasslands also helped in absorbing nitrates, thus protecting groundwater from pollution; and
  • Phyto-remediation strategies allow to concentrate contaminants - avoiding their mobility - in several dozens of tonnes of biomasses, the use of which to produce renewable energy can additionally save up to 10 t/ha of CO2 emissions compared to use of fossil fuels.
  • Furthermore, the project expects that reduced movement of contaminants thanks to the capping made with the trees will be even more visible within 1-2 years. Additionally, the biodegradation of organic pollutants and the reduction of the mobile, bio-available fraction of mineral pollutants - the so called heavy metals - will be more visible within 5-10 years.

    The socioeconomic advantages of phyto-remediation with respect to other high-technology strategies were clear. The protocol proved to be very cost effective compared to the main alternative solutions - € 0.1 m/ha compared to € 2-5 m/ha for ‘dig and dump’ and € 1-2 m/ha for ‘capping with cement platforms’. Its further application would also create important employment opportunities in planting and managing plants and trees in the Campania Region.

    Parts of the protocol have already been replicated by other public and private entities in the Campania Region, including: the former landfill RESIT; a 6-ha site in the town of San Giuseppiello polluted due to illegal dumping of industrial sludge; and a 3.5-ha contaminated industrial field managed by ECOBAT, a multinational smelting plant for battery recycling.

    Further replication was facilitated by strong links with local and regional administrations and three project partners are now members of an Italian Government task force for mapping agricultural soils at risk of pollution and for reviewing Italian legislation about soil pollution and remediation. Several national and regional laws – e.g. Regional Forest Law – have already been adapted to include phyto-remediation techniques, as supported by the project results.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


    Reference: LIFE11 ENV/IT/000275
    Acronym: ECOREMED
    Start Date: 01/06/2012
    End Date: 31/05/2017
    Total Budget: 5,774,074 €
    EU Contribution: 2,707,256 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Centro Interdipartimentale di ricerca Ambiente CIRAM - Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: via Mazzocannone 16, 80138, Napoli, Italia
    Contact Person: Massimo FAGNANO
    Tel: +39 0812539129

    LIFE Project Map



    • Site rehabilitation - Decontamination
    • Soil and landscape protection


    • monitoring
    • protected area
    • Agriculture
    • site rehabilitation
    • indicator
    • contaminated area


    • COM(2006)231 - “Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection” (22.09.2006)


    Name Type
    Centro Interdipartimentale di ricerca Ambiente CIRAM - Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II Coordinator
    Regione Campania, Italy Participant
    Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione Ambientale della Campania, Italy Participant
    Risorsa Srl, Italy Participant


    Type Resource
    Project web site Project's website
    Publication Layman report (Italian version)
    Publication After-LIFE Communication Plan
    Publication Layman report
    Publication Project's Final technical report (Italian version, with abstract in English)
    Publication "Technical and scientific documents 2: Sviluppo di protocolli eco-compatibili per la bonifica dei suoli inquinati nell’ex sin litorale domizio- agro aversano = Implementation of eco-compatible protocols for agricultural soil remediation in litorale domizio- agro aversano nips: Technical report - 2015/2017" (3.79 MB)
    Publication "Operative eco-remediation protocol: Ecoremed Handbook - MANUALE OPERATIVO: Per il risanamento ecocompatibile dei suoli degradati = OPERATIVE HANDBOOK: For eco-compatible remediation of degraded soils" (23.5 MB)
    Publication "Technical and scientific documents 1: Sviluppo di protocolli eco-compatibili per la bonifica dei suoli inquinati nell’ex sin litorale domizio- agro aversano = Implementation of eco-compatible protocols for agricultural soil remediation in litorale domizio- agro aversano nips: Technical report - 2012/2014" (2.45 MB)
    Publication Le acque sotterranee nella “Terra dei fuochi”. In: Ambiente Rischio Comunicazione. 2013, n°7, p. 39-48. URL
    Publication Photogrammetry for environmental monitoring: The use of drones and hydrological models for detection of soil contaminated by copper In: Science of the Total Environment. Elsevier, 2015. N°514, p. 298-306. URL
    Video link Project's video [11'20 - IT]