Malles – impatience or patience

A municipality in Italy has banned the use of pesticides and insecticides throughout its territory. The municipality is that of Malles Venosta, which is in South Tyrol about 70 km from Bolzano. Although it is in Italy, it is very close to the borders with Austria and Switzerland.

The story is quickly told: it is one of the realization of the risks posed to human, soil, animal and plant health by the indiscriminate use of pesticides and insecticides, especially in the growing of apples for which this region is well known. Thanks to a movement involving almost all the residents of the municipality and its outlying areas, the new mayor and council were able to impose municipal regulations that strictly limit their use based on: i) a ban on the use of the most toxic chemical pesticides (known as T+ and T); ii) pesticides may only be used up to a minimum of 50 metres away from the boundaries of neighbouring properties; iii) organic farming will be supported and encouraged throughout the area covered by the municipality. Continua a leggere “Malles – impatience or patience”

Annunci

Why is the Forum’s draft law on the soil so important?

Someone asked us this question and we have to admit it gave us pause. Anyone who takes an interest in the soil knows how important it is for life and for human survival. This is not the case for those whose daily concern has to be their own survival. People can see and feel water, vegetation, the air. The soil is to all intents and purposes invisible because it is either physically distant or covered in infrastructure.

Let’s start with an unpleasant fact: Italy is the European leader in soil consumption. Almost 24% of concreted over soil in Europe is in Italy. This unfortunate record raises some  urgent questions: in Italy we are no longer capable of producing the food we need. Moreover, due to the fact that it has been rendered impermeable, the soil is no longer capable of protecting us by absorbing water. The regular floods of recent years have had very high numbers of victims. In Liguria, landslips, landslides and floods have led to a number of deaths comparable to the disaster of 14th August when a motorway bridge in Genoa collapsed. We only worry about the situation of Italian soils when there is a disaster, a drought or a flood. Afterwards silence descends again, leaving responsibility for action to the lowest level of public authority, the municipalities. What is needed, instead, is a national plan, with adequate expertise and finance. And finally, despite all this, for the time being there are no specific laws in Italy setting limits and conditions that have to be obeyed. Continua a leggere “Why is the Forum’s draft law on the soil so important?”

River Bruna – No to polluting the aquifers

A good friend who is always engaged in the struggle for justice and dignity told us that he had an invisible No Waiting sign stuck to his back. The sign reminded him at all times that he should not “stop” and that the fight against injustice obliged him to get involved wherever a battle for human dignity was taking place. The purpose of this section is to take the same approach. We use it to bring to your attention actions, battles, ideas and experiences that allow you, the reader, to “discover” choices you can support or, even better, “copy”.

In this newsletter we are looking at the actions taken by the Committee to defend the River Bruna (in the photo) against the deposit of so-called “gessi rossi” in the Bartolina quarry. “Gessi rossi” (“red gypsum”) is waste material from the production of titanium dioxide (a white pigment used in industry and in food production and potentially carcinogenic according to the WHO and the EU) when it combines with the marble dust in the Carrara quarries. In the presence of water, these “gessi” deposit in the aquifers abnormally high levels of chlorides, chromium, vanadium, sulphates and manganese, all of which are regarded as carcinogenic. Continua a leggere “River Bruna – No to polluting the aquifers”

The Environmental Implementation Review

There are daily reports in the media on the economic restrictions decided by the European Commission and requested of the member States. We hear about letters, controls, assessments that impose financial restraints, often to the detriment of individuals. These measures are regarded, perhaps justly, as vexatious, but the EU institutions merely put into action the decisions of the member States. It’s like blaming the ordinary soldier for decisions taken by their colonel.

The Commission has taken some other steps that are less discussed in the media. For example, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR COM (2016) 316 final) is a tool for improving the effective implementation of the EU’s environmental legislation.

We recall that the EU is an area with one of the most advanced sets of environmental legislation in the world. This is not a moral “boast”, but rather it expresses the need to preserve the planet by showing the “virtuous” path to follow. Furthermore, the failure to enact environmental protection policies has high environmental, economic and social costs. We therefore welcome this measure that draws attention to the environment. Continua a leggere “The Environmental Implementation Review”

Ogigia Wood, communication starts from the land

Ogigia Wood, a project to communicate on matters relating to the environment, farming and sustainability, is the brainchild of two journalists, Francesca Della Giovampaola and Filippo Bellantoni. The starting point was their personal account of cultivating a small plot of land (see photo), on the principles of permaculture. The land is being used to develop a food forest, which is a form of mixed cultivation that imitates the woodland ecosystem, in which there grow trees, bushes, vegetables, and everything that is needed to satisfy human needs, not just for food. Communication about the project on environmental themes is carried out through social media, mainly through videos that reach a large audience, with the aim of increasing public awareness of protection of the natural world.

The project arose out of Francesca Della Giovampaola’s interest in permaculture, a system which originated 40 years ago in Australia with the aim of halting the degradation of natural ecosystems caused by human activity. The word is a blend of the two words “permanent agriculture”, but can also refer to “permanent culture”. In the early days, permaculture was focused above all on farming, whose modern methods were accused of causing irreparable harm to natural systems. Soon, however, the attention of permaculturists widened to include other aspects of people’s lives, from the places we live in to social relationships. At a time of acute environmental, social and economic crisis, the messagge of permaculture is a positive one: our planet can continue to sustain us, provided we stop putting so much effort into opposing nature and instead start working in harmony with it. The application of the  principles and ideas of permaculture offers concrete answers to many of the urgent questions posed by our age: from the prospect of fossil fuels running out to climate change, from the population explosion to poverty.

Francesca Della Giovampaola says: “I like writing about the natural world, farming, healthy food, and respect for the environment and I thought that to do it better I would have to get my hands dirty because theory needs practice just as practice needs theory. In 2015 I took the Italian Academy for Permaculture’s 72 hour course, and I have carried on learning by doing a Diploma in Permaculture Planning. Ogigia Wood is my outdoor lab, my escape, my larder, my gym, my library and above all a place that is close to my heart”.

The preservation or recovery of the soil’s fertility is at the heart of every permaculture project. In Ogigia Wood, before cultivating plants, they cultivate the soil.  On this plot of land, which is located in the province of Siena, they are trying out new and old methods for increasing the humus and the vitality of the soil. The skills gained on the land are useful for the work of communication. The website www.boscodiogigia.it deals with subjects of great interest today: how to produce high-quality food, protecting health, the energy crisis, climate change, pollution and so on. There is expertise, but also humour. Using videos, articles and other content, the site suggests ways of changing individual behaviour that can gradually be scaled up to achieve the much-hoped-for environmental sustainability. To support the project and follow the progress of Ogigia Wood you can follow them on Facebook, YouTube e Instagram, where they already have around 50,000 followers.

To contact Francesca Della Giovampaola and for further information: boscodiogigia@gmail.com

Putting down roots in “Le Macere”

Our article in the last newsletter on soilless food production provoked some interesting reactions. However well we look after an uprooted plant – cutting it, pruning it, watering it – it will wither and die. So we have to start by planting or sowing it and allowing it to form roots in the soil. Only then will life flow through it. These simple reflections are equally valid for human beings, who not by chance are advised to stop moving from place to place and “put down roots” if they want the chance to build a harmonious future life for themselves.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to put into practice. If we so desired, all of us could produce most of the food we need by growing it in pots on balconies or terraces or in gardens.  This is not a fanciful idea, indeed it is increasingly common in our crowded towns and cities. On the other hand, in the face of the multinational food companies whose monopolies impact all our lives, these small measures resemble the actions of a hummingbird that tries to put out a forest fire by carrying single drops of water to it.  Fortunately, the situation is not exactly like that. The food giants have feet of clay and can be brought down quickly. We only need to think of the many food scandals we have already experienced: mad cow disease, eggs contaminated with fibronil, blue mozzarella, wine contaminated with methanol, contaminated flour, bread and pasta, bird flu, contaminated yogurt and baby milk, extra virgin olive oil that isn’t, “Chinese” tomatoes: the list goes on and on. Continua a leggere “Putting down roots in “Le Macere””

Draft Law AC 63 !!!

We didn’t have to wait for the new government in Italy to be sworn in! As soon as the two chambers of Parliament took office, the Draft Law AC 63  of the Italian Chamber of Deputies was officially registered. Its title is “Measures to halt soil consumption and to reuse urbanized Soils”. The text is almost identical to that of the SIP Forum’s Draft Law published at the end of January!

When we spoke to representatives of the 5 Star Movement, as we did to other parties before the elections on 5 March 2018, they showed interest in and support for our proposal. And they followed this up as soon as the Italian Parliament started sitting by adopting the text and presenting it officially on 23 March as a Draft Law in the Chamber of Deputies, stressing that the 5 Star Movement “… is very pleased to accept the initiative of the voluntary sector by putting its name to the draft law put forward by Salviamo il paesaggio”. Then comes our text, with some minor changes that are completely in keeping with the spirit of the original text, bringing it to the immediate attention of all the political parties. Continua a leggere “Draft Law AC 63 !!!”

The importance of defending the land

Ours is not the only Forum that is engaged in matters of the land. The need to come together and to break down the ideological or psychological barriers that lead us to act “alone” has become an urgent necessity. This was the conclusion reached by a group of university researchers and interested individuals brought together in 2015 by the Fondazione Basso in Rome. A series of meetings led to the creation of the “Forum Diseguaglianze Diversità” (Forum on Inequality and Diversity or Forum DD). Officially active since October 2017, the forum held its inaugural conference in February 2018.

Why are we telling you about this?

For two reasons. The first is that we can and must work together (as stated in the proverb at the top of this newsletter); the second is that early research by the Forum has identified land use as one of the most important influences on inequality and poverty  Continua a leggere “The importance of defending the land”