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Research activities

Research activities

 The Centre’s research activities are focused on: 

  • making the best use of the opportunities offered  and of the information made available by the emerging sciences (genomics, biotechnologies, Earth observation and land measurement technologies) to promote the implementation and integration of the innovations produced by information and communication technologies (ICT) in the forestry sector, within the so-called Precision forestry  
  • improving end-users' access to innovation transfer in order to increase the competitiveness of all productive sectors of the forest-wood chain 

These goals are made clear in the three-year activity plan of the Centre, both in its specific objectives (objective no. 1 in particular) and in its broad and high quality "third mission" activity (mostly, but not only, carried out within the National Rural Network and the National Forest Inventory). The hopeful acquisition of new staff and new equipment aim at strengthening the Centre’s research and innovation capacity. 

Forests' genetic improvement and biodiversity

Plant genetic resources having forest, medicinal, aromatic and nutritional value are exposed to the effects of environmental changes. In this perspective the genetic structures of forest species must be monitored in the long term, with particular attention to the peripheral and marginal ones and to those at risk. Supporting and improving wood production is a highly topical issue in forestry research, with particular reference to innovative approaches in plant genetics. Equally important in Italy is the scientific support given to the national forest nursery system, and the relevant legislation, which have a crucial role for the improvement and the management of forest genetic resources, the adaptation of forest tree species to climate change effects in the Mediterranean context and also the forest restorations after catastrophic events related to climate change and increasingly frequent in recent years, such as forest fires and storms. Another important aspect also concerns the mitigation in peri-urban areas.

Monitoring of forest ecosystems

Sustainable modern forest management cannot ignore the scientific evidence obtainable with an intensive and continuous monitoring of the extent, structure and functioning of forest ecosystems, as well as of the ecosystem utilities provided on various spatial and temporal levels. Reliable and detailed historical series of bio-ecological, dendroauxometric and forest-health data, besides being the basis for a correct management of forest resources, are fundamental to make national forest strategies more efficient, also with the aim of adapting forest resources and urban green to climate change and mitigating the effects of pollution.

Sustainable forest management

Extreme meteorological events and increasingly frequent and intense abiotic and biotic disturbance events require a precise quantification of the response of forest ecosystems to exogenous disturbances, also in order to develop suitable strategies for the restoration of damaged forests. With this in mind, it is important to plan a medium-long term management strategy which takes into account possible future scenarios, creating conditions both for the adaptation of forest species and for the mitigation of expected changes, and enhancing the ecosystem services of forests on a territorial scale.

Wood plantations

The impact of environmental changes threatens agro-forest ecosystems in the medium term and limits the efficiency of the national production system. The research objectives concern the development of sustainable agro-forestry systems for the environment, economy and society; the study of the resilience of plantations for wood and energy purposes to environmental changes, including new plant diseases; the development of innovative biotechnologies for the genetic improvement of species for wood production.

Poplar culture

The Centre carries out research aimed at developing new poplar clones with particular qualities such as quick growth, disease resistance and production of high-quality wood, adaptable to varying soil environments. Techniques of intensive cultivation are investigated, in traditional plantations or in plantations for biomass production, as well as extensive or semi-extensive forestry models which respond better to the requirements of ecologically sustainable arboriculture. Likewise, types of cultivation are studied which are best-suited to projects for the regeneration of waste land and restoration of natural river-bank environments.

Precision forestry

Optimization of the forest-wood chain (producing more with less input) is favored by the implementation and integration of information and communication technologies, as elements of innovation functional to: (i) carry out complex analysis of forest, environmental and territorial data; (ii) support planning and decisions for forestry operations; (iii) favor the automation of forestry harvesting; (iv) promoting operational integration between technicians, sector operators, policy makers, local communities and more generally, end users; (vi) enhance and promote the short supply chain and the competitiveness of Italian agro-forestry companies for quality productions, also through complete traceability, from the forest to the end user.

Research programme 2018/2020 - Centre's objectives

Research programme 2018/2020 - Centre's objectives

Forest Genetic Resources - Arezzo
Forest Geomatics - Arezzo
Dendroecology - Arezzo
Silviculture and Forest Ecology - Arezzo
Forest planning - Trento
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - Trento
Forest biometrics and dendrochronology - Trento
Inventari forestali - Trento
Landscape and forest systems Ecology - Casale Monferrato
Forest economy - Casale Monferrato
Disease and pest management of fast-growing wood plantations - Casale Monferrato
In vitro cultures and biotechnology for wood plantations - Casale Monferrato
Wood quality and wood technology - Casale Monferrato
Silviculture for timber and biomass production - Casale Monferrato
Biometeorology - Roma
Wildlife management and forest biodiversity - Rende
Research permanent areas
Italian Monitoring network on forest condition
Rete di stazioni meteorologiche ed eco-fisiologiche
Experimental plots of Mediterranean conifers and broad-leaved trees
Permanent observation site of Castelporziano
Ex ISS-CS Test areas
Germplasm collections of poplars
Forest Genetic Resources Experimental Networks

The history of the Center

FORESTRY AND WOOD

The history of the Center

The Centre coordinates the research activities carried out in offices and laboratories located in Arezzo, Casale Monferrato (AL), Trento, Rome and Rende (CS) 

Research in Forestry started in 1922 in Florence, with the foundation by Aldo Pavari of the Regia Stazione Sperimentale di Selvicoltura (Royal Forestry Experimental Station), the first Italian research center in this field. 

In 1967 the Regia Stazione Sperimentale di Selvicoltura became the Istituto Sperimentale per la Selvicoltura (Forestry Experimental Institute) with headquarters in Arezzo and operational offices in Florence, San Pietro Avellana (Isernia) and Cosenza. In 2007 with the creation of the Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture (CRA) it became part of the CRA network of research centers, taking the name ‘Centro di Ricerca per la Selvicoltura’ (Forestry Research Center). 

The historical site in Florence was closed and the offices at Isernia (Unità di ricerca per la gestione dei sistemi forestali dell'Appennino) and Cosenza (Unità di ricerca per la selvicoltura in ambiente mediterraneo) become autonomous Research Units (R.Unit for the management of the Apennine forest systems and Research Unit for forestry in the Mediterranean environment, respectively). As a consequence of CREA reorganisation in 2017 the site at Isernia has become an experimental farm while the site at Rende is now a Research Group. 

The offices and laboratories at Casale Monferrato, formerly known as the Unità di ricerca per le Produzioni Legnose fuori Foresta (Research Unit for Wood Productions outside Forests), and even before as the ‘Istituto di Sperimentazione per la Pioppicoltura’ (ISP), were built on land owned by Cartiere Burgo and inaugurated on October 1, 1939. Sold in 1952 to the Ente Nazionale Cellulosa e Carta (ENCC) (National Body for Cellulose and Paper) and managed since 1999 by the Agricultural and Forestry Society (SAF), in 2001 they were donated to the Ministry of Agriculture, and from October 1 2004 have been part of CREA together with their branch offices and land in Rome, today an experimental farm (Azienda Ovile).