Spotlight Activity: New Law on Forest Management Detrimental to Ecosystems
On March 16th the government passed a comprehensive law on forestry among widespread critiques. As proposed, the law would endanger forests, their ecosystems, and their ability to effectively act as carbon sinks. However, to gain full legal standing the decree has to be signed by the President, Mr. Mattarella, which has not occurred yet.
Restructuring and reorganizing the governance over forests is a welcomed effort, especially when it comes to the harmonization of definitions, rules and guidelines. The current text, for example, gets rid of inconsistencies regarding the definition of ‘forest’ and ‘forest road’, which vary region by region. Moreover, the responsibility over matters on forestry falls under the competency of both the national government and the Regions, which often creates confusion. Consultations for the drafting of the text for the law were extensive but excluded members of botanical studies, fauna, and ecology. Even among forestry experts a few professionals are skeptical and some are outspoken about dropping the current proposals.
Although needed, this law presents a multitude of scientific biases raised by a cohort of 264 academics in botanical studies, zoology, ecology, and geology. The main critique falls on the premise of the proposed text which affirms that forests need to be constantly ‘managed’, that is subject to logging, building roads and other interventions, to prevent hydrogeological instability and wild fires. It is hard to see how this principle is able to meet the intention of protecting ecosystems with the proposed framework centered around the economic productivity of forests. If anything, the new law would incentivize and simplify permitting the building of new roads, in what is already a capillary system of roads that fragments the ecosystems and compromises the hydrogeological equilibrium. All of this would happen with likely negative impact for carbon emissions from: a) the diminished ability of forests to act as sinks, and b) the increase of emissions due to the development of new economic activities around forests and their natural resources.
Status: Falling Behind
This law undermines the forest and its ecosystems and indirectly incentivizes logging and the economic exploitation of natural resources with harmful consequences for the environment and greenhouse gas emissions.
Write to the President of the Italian Republic and ask him not to sign the comprehensive law on forestry (Testo unico in materia forestale). Here is a sample letter. His contact information is below.
Dear President Mattarella,
The comprehensive law on forests is not based on sound scientific principles as pointed out by many academic experts in the field. Please refrain from signing the legislative decree into law and request a new round of consultations engaging all stakeholders, including researchers on ecology, botanical studies, and zoology.
If you are an Italian citizen, fill out the form here https://servizi.quirinale.it/webmail/
You can also send a letter to the address below:
Palazzo del Quirinale, Piazza del Quirinale CAP 00187 Roma.