Italian Forestry Strategy approved after long consultation

The Italian National Forest Strategy will encourage the protection and the conscious and responsible use of natural resources, with the involvement of all, in actions oriented by the criteria of sustainability, collaboration and unity of action.

Photo: Rete Rurale Nazionale

The Italian National Forestry Strategy (NFS) provides a long-term (20 year) framework for national and regional forestry policies in line with international and European commitments on climate change, biodiversity protection and socio-economic development. The strategy was approved recently in accordance with the mandate defined by the Legislative Decree No 34 of 3 April 2018.

The NFS has a relevance for the contents but also for the process implemented for its designing and approval based on a well-structured and large participatory approach. The Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies coordinated a long inter-institutional, cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary process which began in October 2019 with the first draft version agreed by a Technical Committee made up by 40 experts of public and private organizations.

NFS consultation process and mission

The draft version was presented and discussed in 9 meetings (mostly webinars) to collect first reactions and comments. An online public consultation was then open from 14 April to 28 May 2020. More than 300 written comments and suggestions were received and a document presenting how these inputs have been taken into consideration in preparing the second version was published. Finally, after the NFS approval by the Technical Committee in June 2021, the document has been analyzed and approved by the Standing Conference between the State and the Regions and by 4 relevant ministries (Ecological Transition, Economy, Culture and Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies) in December 2021 and officially published in February 2022.

The mission defined by the NFS is to improve the resilience of national forests, enriching their biodiversity, contributing to mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis, providing ecological, social and economic benefits for rural and mountain communities, as well as to urban citizens. The NFS, bearing in mind the guiding principles of the new EU Forest Strategy 2030 approved in 2021, sets out national guidelines for effective action to increase the capacity of forests to provide provisioning, regulative and socio-cultural service.

The NFS will be an instrument of guidance for the Regions in the definition of their forest programs, encouraging the active protection and responsible use of natural resources, with a large involvement of all stakeholders and an effective coordination of their actions.

NFS main objectives

The NFS identifies three general objectives: (a) the sustainable management and multifunctional role of forests, (b) the efficiency in the use of forest resources for the sustainable development of economies in rural, inland and urban areas of the country, (b) a global forest responsibility.

For each objective a set of operation actions has been defined (a.1 Forest planning for the management and conservation of the landscape and the territory, a.2 Ecosystem services and their payments, a.3 Soil protection and water cycle regulation, a.4 Biological diversity of forest ecosystems, a.5 Forest resource restoration and prevention of natural and man-made risks, a.6 Climate change mitigation and adaptation, a.7 Plantation management; b.1 Sustainable forest management, b.2 Training of forest operators and improved operational capacity of forest enterprises, b.3 Local supply chains, b.4 Socio-cultural services, b.5 Traceability of forest products, b.6 Responsible consumption and purchases; c.1 Information and social and environmental responsibility of citizens, c.2 Research and technology transfer, c.3 International dimension of forestry policies). 7 specific actions have been defined related to more particular issues, like the management of extreme events, fire prevention and fighting, the designation and protection of old growth forests (“foreste vetuste”), management of poplar and other plantations for wood production. Finally, 6 actions aimed at implementing policy tools have been approved (e.g.: forest monitoring, forest policy coordination, national wood cluster).

The financial resources for the various actions have been defined referring to the different programming instruments in force (e.g., EAFRD funds) but also to the resources specifically allocated for the implementation of the NFS (e.g., the Budget Law 2022 defining an annual budget for the central State authority in the forestry sector of EUR 420 million until 2032).

In this period of radical economic and environmental changes a new and forward-looking political season is needed, based on coordinated joint actions between the institutions responsible for the protection and active management of the national forest heritage and the forest-based economy. With the approval of the NFS we hope the forestry sector, the first green infrastructure of the country covering more than one third of its territory, will acquire an adequate dignity and consideration in all the other fields of policy action, from the circular bioeconomy to biodiversity protection, climate and renewable energy policies.

More information (in Italian)

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Davide Pettenella
Davide Pettenella is full professor at the University of Padova, Italy, where he teaches forest economics. He has published more than 400 papers through his research activities and field work within programmes financed by the European Commission, FAO, European Forestry Institute, World Bank, and by Italian national and regional institutions.