Report on the state of forests and the forestry sector in Italy

It is often stated and widely believed that public bodies in Italy are parasites, incapable of spending their funds correctly. The opposite is true. Many public employees, despite the lack of funds and the numerous bureaucratic problems, are more than capable of doing their jobs and indeed of excelling at the European and international level. We are therefore delighted to be able to point our readers to a recent report on the state of forests and the forestry sector, “RaFITALIA 2017-2018 Rapporto sullo stato delle foreste e del settore forestale in Italia“.

In this comprehensive account deals with all aspects regarding the forests – both directly and indirectly – and subjects them to critical analysis. In almost 300 pages the report describes the work of thirty coordinators and over 200 team members. The project is the work of the Forestry Directorate of the Ministry for Food, farming, forestry and tourism, with support from the research body Centro di ricerca Politiche e Bioeconomia del Consiglio per la Ricerca in agricoltura and analysis from Economia Agraria and the Compagnia delle Foreste.

The report, which can be downloaded free of charge, provides information and data that will be of interest to anyone interested and involved in forestry, in both the public and private sectors. It is an excellent interactive tool that can be studied, consulted, and updated.

The presentation is based on the most up-to-date integrated technical and scientific approach currently available, enabling understanding of the forestry sector and its potential within the limits of sustainable development. All matters relevant to forests are represented: from current legislation – European, national and regional – to the activities of civil society organizations and the productive sector, to non-timber forestry products such as mushrooms, truffles, chestnuts, honey etc, not forgetting the responsible public bodies and the training of forestry workers.

The data on forest area initially seems encouraging, consisting of an annual increase of roughly 50,000 hectares between 2005 and 2015. The increase in forest cover is, however, largely due to spontaneous colonization of marginal farmland that has been abandoned. Another statistic: two thirds of forests are privately owned, with only one third being publicly owned, but more than 87% of the forested area is subject to hydrogeological constraints.

The data on changes in soil use are dismaying, however: between 1990 and 2008 no less than 127,238 ha of woodland have been taken for other uses (around 7,000 ha/pa). The phenomenon is growing worse: in 2016 changes of use for around 14,000 ha/pa were registered out of around 360,000 for the whole 1990-2016 period..

We invite all our readers to download the publication and consult it regularly