Famous Sant Antonio Forest threatened by logging

We have received this call for action against the planned grazing and logging of one of the most pristine forest areas in the National Park Majella in the Abruzzos in central Italy. If you are against this please post a comment on our website.

The risk of destroying the Sant’Antonio wood in Pescocostanzo, Abruzzo, central Italy through raises the concern among the Europe environmental organizations.

At stake is logging and grazing in  Majella NP versus protection of the Wilderness area of Majella NP.  A nature reserve was already  established in 1986, in order to protect one of the most beautiful and famous beech woods in the Apennines. The reserve was included to Majella National Park in 1995. The wood, with its 17 hectares, has always been a paradise appreciated by botanists, hikers, travelers and tourists. However, the main value of the area has been put into serious question by a judgment on 12th of February 2015, in which the Regional Committee for civic purposes ruled the restrictions of the Park as illegitimate, thus questioning the Park nature protection plan. Also, the inaction of the Park was crucial, promoting the institutional conflict: by not showing up in court, it was also sentenced to pay the legal costs. The sentence, moreover, is in conflict with the judgments of other European and national judicial bodies that, on the other hand, had already positively ruled over the standards of protection actually in place.

According to the associations, the risk that chainsaws could break into the wood is now real and imminent. It all depends on the common sense of the new local administration. This wood is a biotype of high natural value, universally recognized within the scientific sector and by the European community, where the natural dynamics have enriched the forest with huge, monumental, high-trunk trees. An environment that is well different from the young forests, undergoing too many cuts, that dominate our region and the whole country. The three main censuses of monumental trees, performed over time by the State Forestry Corps, the regional administration and the Majella National Park, have highlighted the great abundance of huge trees in this forest. In fact, around half of the 800 monumental trees detected in the Park can be found within the Sant’Antonio wood. Every year the majesty of this wood attracts thousands of tourists and seekers of large trees that help fostering the beauty of this area. In the collective consciousness of the people of Abruzzo, the Sant’Antonio wood represents a magical place, a sacred forest, an enchanted place, completely unique, and with its cultural, historical, ancient and, most of all, wild aspects. It is an enticement that attracts visitors from hundreds of kilometers, even far beyond the borders of the region. For these reasons the area deserves to be protected at the highest level. An intermediate solution is possible: while it’s important to establish the protected area as a place to be enjoyed by respectful citizens and to promote environmental education; on the other side it is very dangerous to foster pollarding, the removal of trees and the destruction of the undergrowth, with the serious risk of causing damages for environment and tourism.

It is essential, for the organizations that are signing this document, to find a fair solution and to intervene as soon as possible, in order to prevent the historical environment from becoming a land of conquest. The biodiversity of the Sant’Antonio wood is a priceless treasure for the whole territory of Abruzzo and Italy. Moreover, the wood is a Site of Community Importance and, in 2012, has been awarded the “Premio Carlo Scarpa per il Giardino”. Spoiling this wood would be an unforgivable crime.

Signed by:

  • Coordinamento Nazionale Alberi e Paesaggio OnlusPro Natura Abruzzo
  • WWF Abruzzo
  • FAI Abruzzo
  • LIPU Abruzzo
  • Italia Nostra Pescara
  • Wilderness Italia
  • Enpa Onlus Lazio e Abruzzo
  • European Wilderness Society


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18 thoughts on “Famous Sant Antonio Forest threatened by logging

  1. Hunting in italian parks is totally impossible. Exceptions are only from Bolzano and Trento Provinces, where it is normally possible, because of special administrative status, so they can decide by itself… and they decided to allow hunting in local Parks. It is the problem linked to the elimination of the historical national Park of Stelvio Mts, now divided in 3 local parks, one regional (Lombardy region) and two provincial (Trento and Bolzano). In the Lombardy, hunting is still forbidden (Lombardy is not administrative autonomus region. In Bolzano and Trento (administratively autonomus provinces) hunting in local parks is possible. So what will be the future of this Important, historical and big Former National Park now transformed in local one?

  2. i’m available about this problem if you want.
    It is important to discuss new strategies.
    For example virtually and pratically, in Italian protected area normally hunting is totally forbidden in any way. But you can cut everything, everywhere; especially if you really want, if you be patient and if you know how to move and when to move… And it can be easy to cut with public money helps!!! So mainly we need to reform and be more strict about public money and project concerning managment of woodlands!!! I hope to be clear in that way. Thank you.

  3. We are attending the Beech Forest Expert Meeting in Vilm and are talking about strategies on how to stop this logging of old growth forests in Europe. Europe had in 2005 approximately 600.000 ha of old growth and virgin forests. Latest nunbers and satellite imagery show that 300.000 ha of this was logged. Just in Romania alone 120.000 ha was logged by Schweighofer, Kronosspan and US based Massiv forest products, all FSC certified and based in Sepes in Romania.

  4. Should we open an Avaz petition on this? How can the Green Region of Abruzzi allow this grave crime to humanity? Let’s go campaign!!!

  5. It is short-term profit (however, forestry hardly is profitable) versus long-term profit (e.g. eco-tourism).
    So the local people and local government, if they are wise, should be concerned about the logging in the Majella NP. Probably by non-local, big companies, so probably local population will not benefit.

  6. To the Italian authoritys, who are involved in this plans of grazing or logging: Keep your hands from the the Sant Antonio Forest – don t distroy your natural heritage !

  7. Unfortunately it does not exist an Italian forest commission…

  8. I don’t have to tell you how refreshing it would be to hear that Italian Forest Commission will protect the Bosco SantAntonio!

  9. I was deeply concerned to read that the Bosco SantAntonio is under threat. We often drive through that region and take visitors to visit the Bosco because we love it so much. How can it be possible to even think of logging that special place. What can i do to help and spread awareness? Am i able to get information in Italian? With best wishes and blessings to you for the important work you do.

  10. The Abruzzi NP and especially Majella are of great importance not only for Italy but for total Europe biodiversity and its economical value. Short and even more long term. Logging and grazing will destroy this value for sure. This will harm the total ecological area and the credibility for the national and local authorities and Abruzzi people.

  11. Hi Mr Trommer.
    The open letter was signed by:
    Coordinamento Nazionale Alberi e Paesaggio Onlus
    Pro Natura Abruzzo
    WWF Abruzzo
    FAI Abruzzo
    LIPU Abruzzo
    Italia Nostra Pescara
    Wilderness Italia
    Enpa Onlus Lazio e Abruzzo
    European Wilderness Society

  12. If your message is reliable it is a shame!
    I did inform the German Journal
    “Nationalpark” and a lot of friends of Nature
    Gerhand Trommer

  13. Thank you for your support. IUCN is already informed.

  14. Hi
    It is a copy of a letter sent to the local authorities. If you support this please post a comment.

  15. When I visites the beech-forest of Abruzzo area I was impressed by the exceptional density of the White Backed Woodpecker, which is rare and endangered in most parts of its distribution in Europe.

    I really hope, that Italian Forest Commission will protect these sensitive habitats of this target species – together with all the famous biodiversity of the deciduos forests in southern parts of Europe!

    Doz. Dr. Wolfgang Scherzinger

  16. Sorry, what is the name and nature of this document? Is it a petition that will be sent to some relevant authority? An open letter of pleading? context is required. If there is a public petition I would also like to sign it. Thank you

  17. Please consider before any such action to log this extremely rare site of the consequences that may adversely affect not only local and outside tourism but the very bad publicity this act will perpetuate in other words look at it in purely practical terms even if your reasoning for doing so is more on a “priniple” basis. Tante gracie Gaetano

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Join more 100+ forest experts demanding a radical change in German forestry management.

Sign the Open Letter to the German Federal Minister of Forestry and Agriculture

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.


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