Forests are our key allies in the fight against the climate crisis. In recent years, their role in carbon storage has become increasingly important and this is widely emphasised in European environmental policies. To maximise the benefits and services of forests, it is necessary to take care of them through responsible forest management. However, this is often difficult to achieve, especially for small forest managers who have difficulty finding funds to support their activities.
In recent decades, Italy’s forest area has continued to grow. While this may seem like a positive fact, it hides significant problems that are making Italian forests very vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather events. Firstly, the depopulation of rural areas, especially mountainous and hilly ones, has led to the abandonment of forest management. Secondly, most forest areas are fragmented and extremely small in size. In these cases, it is difficult to implement efficient, economically sustainable and responsible management due to high costs, lack of technical personnel and limited organisational capacity.
In the context of the climate crisis we are currently experiencing, the lack of continuous and responsible forest management can contribute to increasing the impacts of extreme weather events as well as leading to forest degradation.
In order to improve the management of Italian forests, combating abandonment and degradation, the LIFE ClimatePositive project wants to encourage forest associations and promote a harmonisation of types of associations at a national level. In particular, the project aims to create both a shared methodology for the creation of SMART associations and a set of tools to facilitate small forest owners’ access to public and private forms of financing. Furthermore, the project wants to create a national methodology for measuring and monitoring carbon storage in forestry projects, also promoting the National Forest Carbon Code. In this way, the project aims to facilitate private funding for management activities that increase carbon stock, also taking into account the European Commission’s carbon farming initiatives and FSC certification.
Etifor, promoter of the project idea together with the Municipality of Luvinate and FSC Italy, will coordinate the project. In addition, Etifor will promote the SMART approach for forest associations by creating – together with the TESAF Department of the University of Padua and the WOWnature platform – a toolkit to help forest managers in finding private funding.Finally, thanks to its long experience, Etifor will accompany forest areas in obtaining the FSC certification and in the application of the procedure for the verification of ecosystem services.
Total budget: € 3.456.677,00
Total EU co-funding: € 2.074.006,00
Etifor’s budget: € 808.813,00
EU co-funding for Etifor: € 485.287,80