How can forestry associations counteract land fragmentation and reduce the abandonment of forest management?

Forest ownership fragmentation and lack of horizontal integration among forest owners represent some of the main factors that traditionally affect the competitiveness of the Italian forest sector. Since 1923 (Royal Decree No. 3267), the Italian regulatory framework has promoted, providing numerous and different legislative tools, the creation of forest owner associations for ensuring more active forest management. Among these, it’s possible to recall:(i) the Legislative Decree no.227/2001, that required the regions to promote associations in the forest sector to favor more efficient forest management, (ii) the recent Italian Forest Act (Legislative Decree no. 34/2018), which places forest owner associations as one of the priorities of the sector, (iii) the Italian Forest Strategy, approved in February 2022, where the establishment of forest association is recognized as one of the opportunities for the whole sector.

Following these different legislative acts, in Italy numerous and different model of forest associations, in the last years, have been established, such as: (i) Lowland Forest Association and Associazione forestale Vicentina, developed in the context of Rural development program of Veneto, (ii) Associazioni Fondiare and the “Comunità del Bosco”, promoted and defined by specific regional law respectively in Piedmont and Tuscany. At the same time, other associative models, some traditional, such as Consortia and others very innovative, such as Community Cooperatives, continue to be established and to be protagonists in different territories.

This heterogenous framework highlights how forest owner associations in Italy are characterized by very different structures and objectives. To date, it is not possible to identify a national reference model, but certainly the numerous experiences gained in the various local regional contexts can represent a significant source of experiences (positive and negative) to be drawn for the future.

Authors

Nicola Andrighetto (Etifor), Giorgia Bottaro (University of Padova), Francesco Loreggian (University of Padova).

This article has been realised in the framewok of the Carega project (an initiative funded by the Rural Development Programme of the Veneto Region 2014-2020, misura 16).

References:

Bottaro, G., Andrighetto, N. (2020). New development of Italian forest owner associations: towards a better integration of SME in the forestbased bioeconomy. Abstract presented for IUFRO2020 Conference: The socioeconomic and socioecological value added of smallscale forestry in the bioeconomy