In Italy, agroforestry practices have been influencing agricultural development during centuries. Such practices have been a means to efficiently use local resources in terms of production and environment, but also to shape a high diversity of landscapes. Silvopastoral systems, arable systems, coltura promiscua and the piantata or alberata (practices by which grapevine was cultivated on trees) were all agroforestry systems which could guarantee a balance of phytonutrients’ bio-geo-chemical cycles and a more efficient use of soils. Today, such benefits are considered also along with other ones, such as fire risk reduction, carbon sequestration increase, microclimate moderation, reduction of soil erosion.
Even though, after the development of agro food industry, many traditional agroforestry systems have been abandoned, towards the adoption of more intensive agricultural models, they can still be appreciated as they contribute to the identity of many regional landscapes of the country.
Efficient and productive systems such as silvopastoral and agrosilvopastoral systems, can be found in about 1,300,000 ha of land in Italy where trees are integrated with livestock production. In the Mediterranean areas of Italy, including the extensive and semi-extensive management for beef cattle, dairy sheep and goats, the proportion of land area classified as “woods” ranges from 50% in Sardinia (1.2 million ha), to 40% in Calabria to 10% in Sicily and 7.5% in Apulia. Among these regions, the greatest diversity and area of silvopastoral systems (wooded pastures, grazed woodlands) is found in Sardinia. In the Central Apennines, about 300.000 ha are involved in agrosilvopastoral practices and in Alpine regions, from the mountains of Piedmont and Aosta Valley to Eastern Alps in Trentino, a traditional system of great landscape and ecological value, although in decline, is the larch wood pasture.
Intercropping and grazing in olive orchards is still occasionally practiced. Innovative olive agroforestry systems with chickens and wild asparagus have been studied in central of Italy. Silvoarable systems, though less common, are being relaunched in northern Italy, as they can support national wood production while promoting multifunctional agriculture capable to protect, production, environment and public health within sustainable development process.
AIAF, the Italian Association of AgroForestry was established in 2012 with the aim to represent all agroforestry stakeholders in Italy: farmers, extension agronomists, technicians, policy and decision makers, researchers.
The main AIAF’s objectives (see Statute, art. 2):
- To promote the adoption of sustainable agroforestry practices all over Italy;
- To promote initiatives and actions aiming to develop awareness, knowledge, research and policy development supporting the use, the cultivation and the diffusion of wood species at farm level, also considering experiences from other countries and using all financial instrument at local, national and international level, in particularly at European level;
- To promote the conservation and restoration of traditional agroforestry systems in Italy;
- To support the economic development of products and facilities provided by agroforestry systems, particularly promoting the certification process.
The most relevant activities of AIAF are lobbying for agroforestry at regional and national level, promoting technical meetings, pilot farms and cooperation with Research Centres to support studies on AF systems.
The SISEF Agroforestry Working Group belongs to the Italian Scientific Society on Silviculture and Forest Ecology, with the aims of:
- promoting research and studies on the structure and functionality of agroforestry ecosystems and their management, based on principles of sustainable development and conservation of biological diversity at species, habitat and landscape level;
- facilitating the relationships between researchers, scholars and local authorities responsible for the management and protection of the territory, reinforcing the ecosystem services provided by forest and agricultural ecosystems;
- collaborating with local authorities promoting agroforestry in the political agenda at local and national levels;
- collaborating with similar European and national societies with similar purposes on agroforestry.
SISEF carries out its activity by organizing congresses, symposia, meetings, and supporting scientific publications at national and international levels.
Compagnia delle Foreste
Compagnia delle Foreste is an organization dealing with the sustainable management of forests, tree plantation and urban trees as one of the main source of wellbeing for today’s and future society.
As partner of Life+ InBioWood project, Compagnia delle Foreste, has worked on polycyclic tree cultivations which can be an effective means to support agroforestry development.
PEFC is the National Governing Body of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes. PEFC Italy is a no-profit organization, founded in 2001 by public organizations, private and public forest owners, private industries and professional organizations. It has 51 members, including consumer associations, environmental organisation and members of Italian civil society, including the Italian Agroforestry Association.
The forest surface that is PEFC certified according to Sustainable management standard is 821.000 hectares, while PEFC certified Poplar plantations are 4.000 hectares. In 2015 has developed a national standard focused on tree plantations, that includes some ToF (trees outside the forest) sustainable management systems close to agroforestry. However, agroforestry certification will be available only after the approval at national level of a specific certification standard following the PEFC meta-standard approved at international level in November 2018. A new national level of agroforestry or ToF standard would also require the implementation of a pilot agroforestry certification to explore critical issues identified during PEFC ToF scoping phase and clearly sharing practical feedback with PEFC from project implementation. Such pilot study is expected in the Autumn 2019.
AGROFORESTRY POLICIES in ITALY
Five regions over 20 have contemplated the establishment of agroforestry systems within the Measure 8 (investments in forest area development and implementation of the viability of forests (art. 21-26), Sub-measure 8.2 (support for the establishment and maintenance of agroforestry systems).
|REGION||SUPPORTED OPERATIONS||MAX AMOUNTS €/ha (80%) + €/ha/year||BENEFICIARIES|
Establishment of silvopastoral systems: cultivation of forestry and agricultural woody species, with medium-long cultivation cycle, aimed to produce timber or biomass and other non-wood forest products, on the same area with livestock activity. Tree density: 60-200/ha. Allowed on agricultural lands or abandoned lands classified as forests; not allowed on permanent grassland or pastures.
|2000 + 200||Private landow ers and/or associations; municipalities|
|Establishment of linear systems: cultivation of one or more forestry and agricultural woody species, with medium-long cultivation cycle on field border of arable lands to realize hedges, windbreaks or buffer strips. Tree density: 60-200/ha, tree distance < 6 m.||2000 + 200||Private landow ers and/or associations; municipalities|
Establishment of the following agroforestry systems:
- creation of small wooded areas;
- realization of linear systems (hedges and rows);
- planting isolated plants scattered in the field.
Tree density 50-100 trees/ha;
shrub density < 200 shrubs/ha.
In agricultural non abandoned areas: 3100 + 300;
In abandoned agricultural areas: 4600 + 300.
|Private landowners; municipalities|
establishment of the following agroforestry systems:
- establishment of linear systems (hedges, rows, windbreak, etc.);
-planting one or more forestry or agricultural woody species and/or shrubs, with medium-long cultivation cycle.
Tree density 50-250 plants/ha
|2750 + 1200||Private or public landowners, municipalities|
establishment of silvopastoral systems: planting of forestry trees species on agricultural land, with medium-long cultivation cycle, combined with livestock activity, aimed to produce timber, biomass or other non-forest products.
Tree density 20-50 trees/ha with tree distance more than 10m
|2300 + 500||Private and public landowners or land managers|
establishment of silvoarable systems: planting of one or more forest trees or shrubs species in linear system or scattered in the field, with medium-long cultivation cycle, aimed to produce timber or biomass and other non-forest products.
In case of linear system: tree density 40-100 trees/ha, distance between tree rows 20-30 m; distance between trees 5-10 m. trees can be planted in field border as hedges, windbreak or buffer strips;
In case of scattered trees: tree density: 20-50 trees/ha, tree distance>10 m.
|2000 + 500||Private and public landowners or land managers|
|Veneto||establishment of silvopastoral systems: selectivethinning of trees species already present on agricultural landsto implementagricultural or livestock activity;it includes the recovery of abandoned agricultural lands occupied by natural vegetation.||
Max amount based on regional prices; maintenance contribute is 250;
|Private and public landowners|
|establishment of silvoarable systems: planting of one or more forestry trees or shrubs species, scattered or in regular design, with medium-long cultivation cycle, aimed to produce timber and/or biomass and/or non-forest products.||
Max amount based on regional prices; maintenance contribute is 110;
|Private and public landowners|
RELEVANT ITALIAN AGROFORESTRY WEBSITES
Video on the “olive, wild asparagus and chicken” agroforestry system
Video on policyclic tree cultivation
TAKE A LOOK AT AGROFORESTRY in ITALY
Silvoarable system at Casaria Farm, Masi, Padua.
Silvopastoral system with grazing sheep and oak tree in Maremma, Tuscany
Silvopastoral system with grazing sheep in olive grove, central Italy