In the context of the worldwide increasing interest on the role of forests for global warming and biodiversity targets, there is a growing tendency to consider the need to increase not only the extension of forests, but also their degree of naturalness. These indications have been recently included also in important political documents such as the European Green Deal enacted by the European Union, affecting 28 member states of the European continent, also with the aim of fighting deforestation and desertification. In Italy national and regional forest inventories, as well as planning documents, classify more and more forests as natural or seminatural. These indications often result in the limitation of traditional silvicultural methods, by environmental and landscape restrictions, orienting forest management towards favoring more natural forests structures. These policies are often threatening the conservation of the cultural features of the Italian forests. The paper provides an analysis of the evolution of forests in Italy during the last 150 years through official forest inventories and various investigations. This study shows that from 4.215.000 ha of forest in 1888 we have today about 11.778.000 ha, with an increase of 7.563.000 ha and an annual growth rate of 59.551 ha. The present Italian forests can be described partly as derived from those already mapped in 1936 and entirely managed, although not regularly, and secondary forests developed on abandoned land, extending for 5.279.895 ha. The results show that human influence has affected extension, density, structure and species composition of Italian forests in all the geographical areas of the country, independently from altitude, latitude or climate conditions. There are no dangers of deforestation, but rather an uncontrolled increase of forests and there is no need of further afforestation but rather to better manage the existing ones. Moreover, “cultural forests”, meaning forest shaped and managed by human activities through times, are more and more reducing their extensions together with the material and immaterial heritage associated to them. Considering the third pillar of Sustainable Forest Management in Europe, the one on “social and cultural values”, defined by MCPFE in 2003, the paper proposes the definition of “cultural forests” as a new category in forest conservation and an important part of the biocultural heritage associated to the rural territory. Furthermore, the paper stresses the need of historical investigations, for the better understanding of the features of the forest ecosystems and for the identification of the values to be considered in forest restoration.

Cultural values and forest dynamics: The Italian forests in the last 150 years / Mauro Agnoletti, Francesco Piras, Martina Venturi, Antonio Santoro. - In: FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT. - ISSN 0378-1127. - ELETTRONICO. - (2022), pp. 0-0. [10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119655]

Cultural values and forest dynamics: The Italian forests in the last 150 years

Mauro Agnoletti
;
Francesco Piras;Martina Venturi;Antonio Santoro
2022

Abstract

In the context of the worldwide increasing interest on the role of forests for global warming and biodiversity targets, there is a growing tendency to consider the need to increase not only the extension of forests, but also their degree of naturalness. These indications have been recently included also in important political documents such as the European Green Deal enacted by the European Union, affecting 28 member states of the European continent, also with the aim of fighting deforestation and desertification. In Italy national and regional forest inventories, as well as planning documents, classify more and more forests as natural or seminatural. These indications often result in the limitation of traditional silvicultural methods, by environmental and landscape restrictions, orienting forest management towards favoring more natural forests structures. These policies are often threatening the conservation of the cultural features of the Italian forests. The paper provides an analysis of the evolution of forests in Italy during the last 150 years through official forest inventories and various investigations. This study shows that from 4.215.000 ha of forest in 1888 we have today about 11.778.000 ha, with an increase of 7.563.000 ha and an annual growth rate of 59.551 ha. The present Italian forests can be described partly as derived from those already mapped in 1936 and entirely managed, although not regularly, and secondary forests developed on abandoned land, extending for 5.279.895 ha. The results show that human influence has affected extension, density, structure and species composition of Italian forests in all the geographical areas of the country, independently from altitude, latitude or climate conditions. There are no dangers of deforestation, but rather an uncontrolled increase of forests and there is no need of further afforestation but rather to better manage the existing ones. Moreover, “cultural forests”, meaning forest shaped and managed by human activities through times, are more and more reducing their extensions together with the material and immaterial heritage associated to them. Considering the third pillar of Sustainable Forest Management in Europe, the one on “social and cultural values”, defined by MCPFE in 2003, the paper proposes the definition of “cultural forests” as a new category in forest conservation and an important part of the biocultural heritage associated to the rural territory. Furthermore, the paper stresses the need of historical investigations, for the better understanding of the features of the forest ecosystems and for the identification of the values to be considered in forest restoration.
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Mauro Agnoletti, Francesco Piras, Martina Venturi, Antonio Santoro
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2158/1244973
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