What is the value of active woodland management?

Woods and forests, which in Italy represent the most extensive terrestrial ecosystem (34% of national territory), by virtue of their “multi-functional” nature represent concentrated examples of ecosystem services, as defined in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA, 2005), to which international, European and national policies are dedicating increasing attention.

The concept of forest multi-functionality inevitably brings us back to the dualism of environmental protection and economic development, and, above all, efforts towards their sustainable coexistence. In regard to the environmental multi-functionality of Italy’s forest assets, issues such as the fight against climate change, the protection of biodiversity and the conservation of habitats and landscapes, the generation of renewable energy, water purification and flow regulation, the limitation of the processes of erosion and desertification of soil, hydro-geological protection and the prevention of natural disasters, and historic, tourist and recreational use are expressions of that public interest of a primary, absolute constitutional value in which active forest management (in juxtaposition to the abandonment of silviculture and land management) is regarded as one of the fundamental tools for safeguarding and exploiting woodlands, in the interest of the community and the legally protected asset represented by woodlands, in view of their economic and productive functions.

Industrial development and the massive exodus from mountain and hill areas to large industrial centres have resulted in a sharp decline in agriculture, forestry and pasturing, which are fundamental not only to the production of foods and other goods, but more generally to management of the territory and the resulting normal monitoring and maintenance activities. This phenomenon has resulted firstly in a slow, gradual expansion of woodlands to the detriment of abandoned agricultural areas and pastures, more than doubling the area of Italy’s woodlands from the nearly 5 million hectares observed in 1950 to the over 11 million today.

Tag:  Circular Economy from Iglesias

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