Community of the woods: a virtuous example of a shared vision

Woodland and forested areas across Italy are central to a territorial revaluation initiative encompassing activities related to and supportive of the forest ecosystem. The recently unveiled National Forestry Strategy, spearheaded by Dr. Alessandra Stefani of the MASAF General Directorate for the Enhancement of Territories and Forests, encapsulates the overarching narrative of a novel proposition aimed at enhancing numerous green spaces that, thus far, haven’t fully realized their potential. It suggests to local territorial authorities various strategies to pursue for the optimal enhancement of their respective territories, tailored to the unique characteristics of each locale. This endeavor aims to furnish the community with high-quality products and services.

The Co-Design Agreement for Monte Pisano

On January 26, 2024, at the Municipality of Capannori (Lucca), Podere del Pari eagerly participated in the culmination of the “Managing the Woods” project. It was during this event that the Woods Community unveiled the “Co-Design Agreement for Monte Pisano,” a letter of intent geared towards delineating a comprehensive plan for the virtuous management of the woods and natural resources spanning over 1,000 hectares. This significant milestone was facilitated by the establishment of a platform for reflection, discussion, and collaboration among citizens, businesses, and institutions, fostering trust and dialogue.

The letter of intent boasts a plethora of signatories, including the Tuscany Region, various municipalities, academic institutions, and other key stakeholders. The event served as a forum for stakeholders to forge synergies aimed at revitalizing the mountain, with particular emphasis on crop management and distribution, with the aim of extracting value for the local community and economy alike.

Aligned with the objectives of the National Forestry Strategy, the agreement seeks to address pressing challenges in the Monte Pisano region, which are emblematic of rural areas across Italy. It adheres to the principles of economic and social development in mountainous regions, collaborating closely with local administrations to support territorial development plans. This initiative builds upon previous efforts, underpinned by funding from the MIPAAF Notice “Multifunctionality of the forest and sustainable use of renewable resources in rural areas,” to foster dialogue and confront future environmental challenges collectively.

Challenges and goals for the Territory

Caring for forests and wooded areas through associated management practices serves as a valuable tool in addressing current challenges that impede the optimal utilization of resources and related services.

One of the primary issues at hand is the lack of forest planning, which hampers the implementation of sector-specific services for rural environments. These services are crucial for enhancing integration, sustainability, and overall awareness of environmental, social, and economic factors. 

Additionally, the high fragmentation of private ownership exacerbates the situation, as it inhibits the possibility of collaborative management. This fragmented landscape is further compounded by a deficiency in education regarding a “culture of sharing” and the potential benefits it entails. 

Consequently, there is a failure to fully recognize the ecosystem services and benefits by the local community, along with the tangible value they offer. Addressing these challenges necessitates the development of a multi-year management plan for the Monte Pisano area. 

Such a plan aims to reinforce the community’s role, mitigate property fragmentation, restore the multifunctionality of the forest, and enhance productive activities and supply chains reliant on local resources. This includes cultivation of olive and chestnut trees, water conservation, and the exploration of innovative practices such as prescribed grazing.

Proposed solutions

The idea of ​​a Community takes on a new function: not only a natural place of interaction between individuals, but of sharing common principles and professional knowledge, as an act of reciprocity among actors of the same territory. The first desirable step is the shaping of a forest and urban planning plan, aimed at rewarding active and responsible management guided by three objectives:

  • Biodiversity protection, based on a territorial and arboreal analysis, to reward the species most suitable for proliferating in the reference site;
  • Increase in fertility through the use of good practices that maximize crop yields;
  • Reduction of fires through training in plot care.

The intention is to establish an aware community that recognizes the benefits derived from ecosystem services through the identification of useful ways to create collaboration between private actors and public entities; a virtuous system that involves the participation of institutions to create a context in which to facilitate territorial change.

It is necessary to integrate visions and directions into a contemporary form of community, intending to overcome the challenges and crises at hand and planning public decisions based on the desire for active citizen participation. Within the emerging context, Podere del Pari wants to play an active role in achieving the above-mentioned objectives and be involved in a change that benefits a community of which it is a part. A willingness that also materializes in the offer of skills, services, and technologies useful primarily for a revaluation of all those areas that are currently in a state of neglect or abandonment.