Plantation forestry and agroforestry allied in Italy for implementing the domestic production of timber in the context of multifunctional agriculture

On December 12th 2018, CREA, CNR and the National Rural Network organized a national conference on plantation forestry and agroforestry, where the results of numerous recent European and national projects were presented: INARBOI.IT, WoodNat, InBioWood, AGFORWARD, AFINET , SidaTim and SustainFarm. The fil rouge of the event was the role of multifunctional agriculture in harmonizing different land use systems and combining agro-food production, wood bio-economy and rural development, with the approach of sustainable intensification and environmental protection.

Despite 100,000 ha of forest plantations (mostly broadleaves for timber) and 1,4 mil. of agroforestry systems, dominated by traditional silvopastoral systems and olive groves, in Italy a significant shortage of industrial wood, mostly poplar timber, is expected. Such situation requires a careful strategy to monitor the available tree resources and to properly plan tree plantation (especially for agroforestry on arable lands) as to mitigate Climate Change while avoiding detrimental effects on food production. In this respect, it is urgent to recalibrate the agricultural and forestry policy instruments, taking into account the progress of research (remote surveys for resources monitoring, simulation models for yield estimation, economic balance and ecosystem services), adopting a participatory approach involving as much as possible all the stakeholders: farmers, policymakers, producers, consumers and researchers.

More than 100 participants attended the conference in the morning and the two roundtables in the afternoon. M. Rosa Mosquera L. (Uni. Santiago de Compostela, Coordinator of AFINET project), e and Fabien Balanguer, (AIAF France, AFINET partner) were the invited speakers witnessing to European agroforestry experiences.

The conference was attended by policy makers of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Regional Officers managing Rural Development Plans. It is desirable that the progress of research on agroforestry will be taken much more into consideration in the economic and political agenda. The Italian Agroforestry Association (AIAF), along with SISEF Agroforestry Working Group (both in EURAF), are actively networking among the above mentioned stakeholders.

In the photo above there is a new silvoarable site with hybrid poplars and peduncolate oak (not yet fully visible along tree line) for timber production, in Masi, Italy. New cultivation systems are seeked in order to use efficiently fertile alluvial soils, combing food and wood production, managing tree line with permanent tree cover, mixing tree species with different harvesting cycles, following the principles of polycyclic forest plantations.