The pilot zone of Marinella di Sarzana is characterized by a sandy beach with a total length of approximately 2.7 km, which extends from the Magra River mouth -on the northwest- to the Parmignola Creek mouth to the southeast. The study area constitutes the northern part of the physiographic unit that extends from the Magra River mouth to Livorno, and the Magra River is the only source of sediments for the beach. The beach at Marinella di Sarzana experienced severe erosion since the end of the XIX Century as a consequence of the strong reduction of the Magra River’s sediment load due both to changes in land use and, later, to human action in the river basin, with intense sand and gravel dredging from the river bed.
Being a deltaic area, erosion started in proximity to the river mouth and moved gradually downdrift toward the southern limit of the study area. In the meantime, the southern neighboring beach at Marina di Carrara experienced accretion because of the construction of the Marina di Carrara harbor which begun in the 1930’s. The construction of the harbor created a physiographic sub-unit between the Magra River mouth and the harbor itself.
Currently, the beach of Marinella di Sarzana is protected by different kinds of hard structures like groins, breakwaters and circular artificial islands made of rocky stones around a concrete ring. This hard engineering stopped shoreline retreat but induced heavy impact on the coastal zone.
The Administrations of Regione Liguria and Regione Toscana recently co-financed an innovative project aimed at reducing these impacts and increasing the beach surface in order to re-launch tourist activity in the area. The project will soon be evaluated by Environmental Impact Assessment procedures. In the meantime, both Regione Liguria and Regione Toscana included in their ICZM Plans the funds necessary to carry out the intervention.