Scientists and organisations demand Italian President to save forests

The Italian government recently approved a controversial legislative change in the national Forest Law (Law 28, July 2016, Nr. 154). Mr Enrico Borghi (Democratic Party) proposed the changes in the Forest Law. As President of the Union of Mountain Municipalities, he discussed the Decree with the Commissions of Agriculture and Environment. Furthermore, the private institution “Gestione forestale sostenibile e Agricoltura multifunzionale” of the Consiglio Nazionale della Green Economy wrote the content of the law. The final step for implementation is a signature from the President. Therefore, it is expected that the President will sign the decree soon. The proposed changes are worrying, especially for the protection and conservation of Italian forests. As a result, 264 scientists and 53 organisations have signed letters, to halt the implementation.

Lack of scientific support

A wide range of scientists, from botanical, zoological, ecological, geological, environmental and forestry disciplines demand the President to withhold from signing the decree. Most of all, the scientists express their concern that the scientific errors, on which the decree is based, can lead to devastating impact on ecosystems, soil, biodiversity and the Italian landscape.

The letter states that the proposed active management of forests will have opposite of desired effects, that is increasing the instability of the forest systems. Also, the scientists explain how the decree endangers protected areas, as it proposes to legally cut natural developing forests. A forest that naturally grows to the next successive stage, is abandoned land according to the decree. Foresters should actively manage abandoned lands, so says the decree. Furthermore, the scientist express their concern for the development of new forest roads. Forest roads have a negative impact of forest development, as we know from other studies.

We must, unfortunately, note that many recommendations approved by the Commission’s competent parliamentarians, would lead, if applied, to a further worsening of the scientific substantiation of the law and its consequences on the environment.

states the letter (translated to English).

Active management is not sustainable

The signing parties raise the question on the transparency of the signing process for the decree. Allowing active management of abandoned lands opens up the way for economic harvesting, says the letter. Also the definition for active management is not specified enough, allowing room for flexible interpretations. Currently, the definition does not include ‘sustainable management’ as an objective, according to the signing parties.

It is based on incredibly unscientific assumptions, such as the one stating that forests would die without the constant intervention of people and that “abandonment” would be responsible for forest degradation and even forest fires.

state the organisations on the Decree.

More detailed information on the governmental approval and content of the law in this article.

Find the two letters from 264 scientists and 53 organisations below.

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