Location: Italy

Etifor is a spin-off of the University of Padua, Italy, which works to fully valorise the benefits of the products and services provided by nature.

In December 2021, Etifor launched a tender for proposals to manage bodies of protected areas and Natura 2000 sites in the Lombardy Region of Italy. The tender is called ‘BioClima’ and the aim is to foster public-private partnerships to realise interventions for biodiversity conservation; climate change adaptation; and, the valorisation of the ecosystem services provided by forests, protected areas, and ecological networks of Lombardy. This initiative is the first in the world which allows citizens, businesses and public entities alike to grow new forests and protect existing ones in accordance with the highest forestry management standards through certification from the Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC-N001935).

BioClima covers 12 ecosystems and more information about each one can be found here: NextEnergy Foundation is supporting BioClima’s work in the Campo dei Fiori National Park (“the Park”). Established in 1984, the Park covers approximately 6,300 hectares in the territory of 17 municipalities and 2 mountain communities in the Province of Varese, Lombardy, Italy. The project aims to restore a forest damaged by a severe fire in 2017 and a storm and flooding event the following year. It will achieve this through four intervention areas:

  1. Clearing 19 ha of land damaged by the storm and replanting trees, notably chestnut trees, which are both protected species and a source of local income – the carbon removal of the restored and replanted forest areas is estimated at 5,000 tonnes CO2 per year;
  2. Monitoring water resources and identifying water safeguard areas to protect water springs in the whole Regional Park – over 300,000 people are expected to benefit from this;
  3. Recreating the habitat for endangered bat species in order to increase their presence by at least 30%; and,
  4. Certifying 200 ha under the FSC sustainable forest management standards, including the certification of ecosystem services generated by the project and the Park – this includes CO2, biodiversity and water, amongst others.

The impacts of the project will be verified and accredited in accordance with the FSC. In addition, the valorisation of the ecosystem services and additional benefits generated by the totality of the projects is the largest initiative of this type at the EU level.

All interventions to restore the ecosystems in Campo dei Fiori will be undertaken by the end of 2023. The impacts can be tracked on this page from January 2023. NextEnergy Foundation’s contribution to conserving biodiversity and combating the climate crisis can be tracked on this page.

November 2022 Update: The project implementation officially began on 5th October 2022 with a kick-off meeting organised by the National Park where all project partners attended. The meeting was attended also by the two water utilities that will co-sponsor the water resource element of the project, ALFA and Lereti SPA. On 21st October 2022, Campo dei Fiori Park’s representatives attended the first training course about the FSC Certification and ecosystem services verification, organised by Etifor staff. Between now and April 2023, the Park representatives and a qualified forest technician will develop the executive project and request the necessary authorisations to begin working on the grasslands and chestnut groves in Spring.

June 2023 Update: Project Implementation: In January, the executive project design for the restoration of abandoned chestnut groves was submitted and approved by the Lombardy Region, whilst the executive design for the restoration of the ex-coniferous forest and grassland was approved in April. The interventions in the chestnut groves will begin in June and will end by autumn 2023. The interventions in the forest affected by the windstorm will begin in September 2023 and are supposed to be finalised by the end of Spring 2024.

FSC Certification: Three members of the Park’s technical staff and one member of the project partner, Associazione Fondiaria (“ASFO”) Valli delle Sorgenti, attended the second training session on the Certification in January; the session focused on the development of Management Plans. In March, Etifor staff met the members at the Park’s offices and worked together to set out the criteria for the Management Plans. In May, a third Certification session was held, this time focused on the Ecosystem Service Procedure.

Communication: A press conference was organised by Etifor on 4th April to communicate the signature of the agreement between the Campo dei Fiori Park and the two water utilities that will co-sponsor the water resource element of the project, ALFA and LeReti. With their support, a thematic working group has now been established to deepen knowledge about water resources of the Campo dei Fiori mountain range; the working group has mapped the water resources and their threats, and has developed a long-term plan to mitigate these.

June 2024 Update: the intervention on the chestnut grove has been completed. In particular:

  • the ancient chestnut trees have been fully recovered
  • the new young chestnut planted
  • the grassland restored

As a consequence, the agriforest ecosystem is now regenerated and finding it new ecological balance by an increase of specific biodiversity rate (among which herbaceous flora, arthropods and bats).

On the 14th of March the collection of fallen trees has begun. This activity will be carried out until the end of August and in next Autumn the reforestation intervention will start.

The first step of the survey on local water sources was completed, including mapping and environmental characterization. In July the second step is starting with the aim of applying the best management practice to the water sources (analysis conducted by Alfa and Le Reti) based on Nature Based Solutions catalogue).

FSC Certification: Parco dei Fiori is now official member of the Certification Group, resulting accredited as FSC Certified Forest Manager since June 2024. (FSC Search).

The audits for the FSC Ecosystem Services Procedure for the impacts evaluation was performed in June 2024 and the outcome is expected by the end of next August.

Communication: a new dissemination campaign will take place next Autumn when damaged coniferous wood will be replaced by a new broadleaf forest during WOWNature “grow a tree” event (Home page – WOWnature. During the event, attendees will be involved and participate into the planting of young trees. This activity, scheduled last spring was delayed due to the long snowy winter and the exceptional abundant rainy spring.

Location: Italy

NextEnergy Foundation (“NEF”) is excited to announce that it is supporting its second ecosystem restoration and climate change mitigation project under Etifor’s BioClima programme in the Lombardy Region of Italy. NEF has been funding the programme in the Campo dei Fiori National Park in the Province of Varese since 2022. See the previous project tab for more details about the impact to date.

This year, the Foundation is supporting nature- and climate-positive interventions in the Orobie Valtellinesi Park in the Province of Sondrio. The project aims to improve 44ha of alpine forests, grasslands and ridges in order to protect the habitat of the wood grouse, an extremely vulnerable and endangered species in the Alps. The habitats of other bird species – such as the black grouse, dwarf owl, red-crowned owl, and black woodpecker – will also be restored and protected. This will be complemented by Avifaunal monitoring in collaboration with the University of Insubria and the creation of educational trails.

All interventions will be verified and accredited in accordance with the forestry management standards of the Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC-N001935). The certification will be issued in September 2024 and published on the FSC’s database.

Project impacts will be monitored until December 2025.

June 2024 Update: the tender procedures are now completed and the field works will start in July with expected completion by the end of 2024 and will include:

  • Forest interventions: adoption of naturalistic silviculture aimed to increase the degree of shrub and herbaceous cover of the undergrowth reducing canopy up to 50%
  • Biodiversity interventions: expanding existing clearings and opening of new ones around old individual trees or groups of trees aimed to recreate sparse patchwork of ecosystems in grazing areas
  • Other interventions: redevelopment of 3.6km of existing stretches of pathways to be equipped with naturalistic information links.

FSC Certification: the internal audit procedure for the admission to the Certification Group Foreste Sostenibili Etifor was successfully completed in April and the external audit run by the Certification Body took place between the 3rd and the 7th of June.  The audit report and outcome are expected to be published on the International FSC Database by end on July.

Communication: a new dissemination campaign is scheduled with the second WOWNature event in summer 2025. Experienced guides of the WOWNature team and University researchers will drive participants to recognize forest fauna and the evidences of their presence in the park.