Activities and phases
The Parco Italia kick-off project is divided into two distinct phases: the first one focuses on background research, while the second phase centers on the effective implementation of forestry projects.
The research phase of Parco Italia aims to recognise the ecological value of the country, integrate ongoing actions and formulate a comprehensive vision, establishing challenging yet realistic objectives. Based on research findings during the implementation phase, Parco Italia aims to establish an effective network through which to establish the project. It will begin by planting 70,000 trees in selected sites within Italy by September 2024.
The two phases
Phase 1: Research
The research phase covers the following activities and outputs:
1. National Afforestation Priorities
Defining priorities for afforestation on a national scale with which to guide the construction of a network of forests, existing afforestation projects, and other vegetated ecological corridors throughout the country, including urban areas, while bearing in mind the ongoing socio-ecological transformations throughout the country.
2. Guidelines for dissemination
Defining the guidelines, in the form of FAQs, that provide directions for planning, designing, implementing, and managing the network of forests and vegetated areas in Italy.
3. Reconnection through Green Infrastructure
Encouraging the reconnection of natural and semi-natural areas and urban and periurban forests and creating strategic green infrastructures (GI) within cities, and transforming them into ecologically valuable areas.
4. Ecological Corridors and Slow Mobility
Exploring the potential coupling of ecological corridors to existing or planned sustainable mobility infrastructures such as cycling paths, hiking trails, and running routes.
5. Forest Monitoring Indicators for Multifunctionality
Defining a set of environmental monitoring indicators to enable the continuous analysis of the multifunctional status of forests in natural or urbanized and semi-urbanized areas.
6. Collaborative Governance
Promoting integrated governance and partnership models, funding tools, and the fostering of regional and national regulations to encourage the involvement of a sufficient number of people supporting the Parco Italia project.
In its initial phase, the Parco Italia team undertook a series of research activities that led to a comprehensive understanding of Italy’s current natural capital and the identification of future potential areas for afforestation. The project team developed thematic maps describing metropolitan areas, municipalities, inner areas, ecoregions, forests, ecological fragmentation, hiking and cycling routes, mobility networks, the risks of forest fire, tree cover loss, landslides and floods, along with national afforestation projects developed and implemented during the past decade. All the information layers were also quantified at regional and metropolitan levels to identify environmentally critical areas with high priority given to afforestation.
The team also conducted stakeholder mapping and surveys, establishing a network of contacts. Responses were collected, and initial discussions with nurseries, metropolitan areas, regions, smaller cities, and private organizations were held to identify the criticalities and potentialities of afforestation initiatives in Italy.
Guidelines for promoting, designing, and sustainably managing new forests and vegetated lands were defined and compiled as a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to ensure the successful implementation of the Parco Italia project.
In addition, environmental indicators were established to support the monitoring of forests in natural, urban, and extra-urban areas. This set of indicators will allow for the continuous detection and measurement of forest status and ensure that Parco Italia activities and plantations meet the required goals.
The team also developed the roadmap for Parco Italia’s next steps, focusing on the long-term implementation of its vision. This framework covers communication strategies, integrated governance and partnership models, the fostering of national and regional regulations, and the development of innovative funding models and tools. These elements aim to encourage the involvement of partner stakeholders in supporting the project and ensuring its success.
Phase 2: Implementation
The implementation phase of Parco Italia is based on six essential points:
1. Solutions for Healthy Forests
Building the capacity for selecting and developing appropriate solutions with which to transform a site into a healthy forest.
2. Scientific and Technical Expertise
Establishing robust and dependable scientific and technical knowledge.
3. Community Dissemination and Awareness
Raising awareness within urban and extra-urban communities about the primary importance and the added value of forest-derived ecosystem services.
4. Community Needs and Forests Benefit
Connecting local communities' needs with the potential functions and structures of future forests.
5. Multi-Stakeholder Planting Initiatives
Acknowledging that planting campaigns occur in a multi-stakeholder and multi-scalar arena. The campaigns represent the starting point of the socio-ecological transformations within the relationships between human beings and the landscape.
6. Flexible Governance Systems
Adopting a flexible style in readiness to engage with unforeseen changes in policies and governance, financial support, and ecological and societal needs.
The second phase of Parco Italia kickstarted a number of pilot projects to demonstrate the development of nature-based solutions and afforestation projects within natural and semi-natural areas, metropolitan areas, cities, towns, and small urban settlements. The implementation phase, which includes afforestation, reforestation, and restoration campaigns, will define and harmonise planning, design, and management tools for forests, as well as actions aimed at reducing fragmentation and improving the spatial continuity of natural habitats.
Parco Italia is based on a long-term vision founded upon the aspirational benchmark of planting a tree for each citizen of the 15 Italian metropolitan cities: resulting in 22 million trees planted by 2040. The idea aims to foster a closer connection between every citizen and the environment, encouraging active engagement in nature conservation. This connection will raise public awareness about the effects of the climate crisis, air pollution, and biodiversity loss.