Is Italy cutting down too many of its trees? Fake news.

Rumours are that in Italian woods too many trees are cut down. More and more persistently, public opinion is brought to think about a progressive destruction of our woodland heritage. But is it true?

Well, no, it is fake news. As Italians say, “una bufala”. But this is not enough to explain why this is disinformation regarding Italian forests and the whole wood chain. We should prefer to provide some numbers.

The harvesting from Italian forests is among the lowest in Europe and it is far less than the yearly growth – as a matter of fact, it is 40% of the growth the forests perform each year. In Italy, every year the demand for wood is for 60 million cubic metres, while cutting at home cover just 40% of this national request. As a consequence, there is a very strong need to revert to import. That is to say, that a good 80% of the wood used in our Country has been bought abroad.

These data have been processed between 2015 and 2020 by Forest Europe, the European board that is in charge of the sustainable management of woodlands. Starting from this point, the agency recommended that Italy should increase the amount of sustainable harvesting from its own forests. Why? There are two reasons.

On one hand, it is important to increase the number of certified forests, so of all those woodlands that are sustainably managed. Trees are a renewable resource that can regenerate itself and the sustainable management grants the planting of young trees when old ones are cut down. And a “certified management” is the only weapon that Civil Society has, to fight illegal activities in forest/wood sector, which each year bring to organized crime up to 100 billion euros, thus being their second source of income after drug – this, according to Antonio Brunori, secretary general of PEFC™ Italia.

On the other hand, we must never forget that massive import has an important effect on what actually are “the forests of the others” – which in most of the cases are not granted the same protections given to Italian and European ones. Which protections? Here they are: over 87% of Italian woods are subjected to hydrogeological binding (32% of European forests). The 34% of Italian woods are within protected areas, with naturalistic constraints (23,6% of European forests). But above all, 100% of Italian woods has a landscape constraint and some of them even a double landscape constraint. Even more: Italy has the European record for the largest percentage of forests that grow in protected areas.

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