“Academics have the important role to provide policy makers and business managers with concrete instruments, models and guidelines”
Can you describe the importance of forest in your country, meaning economically and socially?
With close to 35 per cent of its area of forests and other wooded land (11 million hectares, according to the most recent data National Forest Inventory, 2015), Italy is a forest-rich country. However, its productive potential is not fully utilized: the harvesting of wood products from forests covers only 1/3 of the Mean Annual Increment and the harvesting rate has been declining in the last decades. Due to the important role of the manufacturing sector-mostly production of wood-furniture the country has however a high internal demand of wood, that is mostly covered by imports of semi-finished wood products. Traditionally, Italian forestry is based on multifunctional close to nature management models that are mostly focused on the production of non-wood forest products and public ecosystem services, mostly regulation of water flows, averted soil erosion and cultural services like recreation and landscape. These play a relevant role for local communities and for the society at large.
What is and should be the role of academia in helping policy makers and business managers to make the right decisions concerning forests?
The key policy issue at the moment in Italian forestry is: “which forests models should be adopted that can be both ecologically and economically sustainable”, that can be detailed in the following questions: 1) should we increase the harvesting intensity of our forests?; 2) how to balance the provision of industrial wood with that of bioenergy?; 3) how to reconcile the production of private goods with that of public services from forests?; 4) how to create new income opportunities for forest owner in order to avoid abandonment of forest activities?
In order to make the right decisions concerning sustainable forest management and forest-related policies the main actors involved in these processes should have a good understanding of the sector and of the appropriate instruments they can use to be able to implement the more appropriate strategies to respond at the current national and international challenges. Academics have the important role to provide policy makers and business managers with concrete instruments, models and guidelines that can effectively help them to deal with these challenges.
How can innovation related to forest help tackle climate change?
Innovation in forest-related mechanisms and strategies is essential in order to implement new actions that can have an increasingly greater impact in supporting forest ecosystem services (FES) and in making forest less vulnerable to climate change. Innovation can be promoted at different levels: from the demand side, public institutions should innovate from the institutional viewpoint, activating the needed legal-institutional background for enabling the innovative mechanisms; from the supply side, beside mapping ecosystem services (ES) and FES assessment, ES providers – like forest owners and managers – should be supported to create the adequate production environments, marketing strategies and networks to effectively and successfully implement the innovation.
Can you describe what is your organization’s role in SINCERE and why did you get involved in the project?
The role of UNIPD in the project is to create a European database of the existing innovative mechanisms that support the provision of FES. From here, the most innovative mechanisms will be selected and analysed through a framework also developed by us. Within the framework, indicators to assess the innovation rate of the different mechanisms will be also designed. We got involved in the project as we can contribute to it with our past experience in the study of innovative policy instruments for FES. Of course, we are deeply interested in the new knowledge and practical experience that will stem from participating in such a rich project as is SINCERE.