IV National Congress of Silviculture
In Italy, the forest area has doubled in the last century and is now almost 40% of the total land area, increasing the overall environmental value. Over the last decade, there have also been important changes in the organization and governance of the forestry sector in Italy: the State Forestry Corps has been transferred to the Carabinieri; a new General Direction for Forests has been created in the Ministry for Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies; and a new general law regulating the Forestry Sector was issued in April 2018 (D.lgs. 34/2018).
In light of the high impacts these changes have had on the country’s forestry sector, the Italian Academy of Forest Sciences organised the IV National Congress of Silviculture, held in Turin from 4th - 9th of November 2018. The main topics covered included ecosystem services, climate change, environmental and forestry education, institutions’ responsibilities, innovation, research and development, forest-wood supply chains and agroforestry.
Over the five days of the event, professors, researchers, public institutions, forestry technicians, students and private companies analysed and discussed how the national forestry sector has changed in the last ten years, and what the best ways to improve and promote it in the future could be.
The Congress highlighted the importance of thinking about forests as having a key role in the environment for the future; not just for the economic products they can provide, but also for a long list of collateral benefits affecting the global population - carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, soil protection and improving air quality are just few of them. It demonstrated that while silviculture has always recognised and preserved the complexity of the forestry ecosystem, it’s now more important than ever to preserve and improve these benefits, as they have a significant impact in the reduction of global warming. This can be done by adapting old silvicultural techniques with updated data and technologies.
The event also recognised the challenges of talking about forests and forest management, an in teaching the general public that cutting trees is not always a bad practice; it spoke of making people aware that everyone can make a difference in taking care of the forests, and to help consumers to start thinking of timber products in a responsible and sustainable way. From this perspective, certification schemes, such as the ones facilitated by Soil Association Certification Forestry, have a significant role in helping the consumer to identify a sustainable product from a logo, and at the same time, ensuring adequate practices are applied in forest management and through the whole forest-wood supply chain.
Seeing how politics and the economic world are increasingly engaging with forests and their role in climate change, and realising the importance of protecting them was really interesting. It’s apparent how ready the local forestry sector in Italy is to implement significant changes in encouraging the enhancement of forests, and thinking of new markets and the use of new technologies.
It was really inspiring to hear the opinions of various figures in the sector, and through discussion, to help deepen these opinions. Having a shared desire for change that looks at the protection of forests as guarantors of our future was very encouraging and is definitely something we will take into our work in Forestry as a whole.