Italian forum calls for biodiversity to fight climate change

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ROME, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Boosting biodiversity and improving sustainable forest management were two crucial steps to fight climate change in the long term, Italy's second National Forum on Bioeconomy of Forests urged on Thursday.

Organized by Italy's largest green association Legambiente, the two-day event held in the Italian capital has drawn experts from the Ministry of Environment, business sectors, national parks as well as universities.

During the forum which ends on Thursday, ten proposals on improving the country's forest strategy had been submitted for discussion, and made public through an ad-hoc report. And biodiversity was one of them.

"Some 27.5 percent of our forests are already protected, yet it is necessary to keep favoring the natural evolution of woods and go beyond this percentage," the forum warned in the report.

"More specifically, old forests and biodiversity hotspots need to be increased, and must serve as management model for all of our forests," the report suggested.

The proposals also included creating urban forests to fight global warming in the cities and boosting forest certification and planning.

"With this second Forum, we are trying to raise awareness that a good forest management has a significant impact on our quality of life, making the economy more sustainable overall," Legambiente Chairperson Stefano Ciafani explained.

"The Italian 'green new deal' cannot overlook the bioeconomy of forests, and it requires a common project involving public and private entities," he stressed.

The "green new deal" is a reference to one of agenda points of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's cabinet to make environment a key recipient of public investment.

Other proposals called for making a better use of forest residues for bioenergy purposes, and for setting up a "Made in Italy" wood cluster to reduce the country's heavy dependence on imported wood.

At the conference, experts also highlighted the connection between forest economy and climate change, calling for a better protection of woods against natural risks.

The forum was held a year after the Vaia storm, which had caused unprecedented damages to forests in northern Italy on Oct. 27-29, 2018.

With winds exceeding 200 km per hour, Vaia knocked down about 20 million trees over more than 41,000 hectares of land, according to official estimates.

Legambiente believed that the damage caused by the Vaia storm was "a tangible demonstration of the need to act to mitigate global warming effects."

The group pushed for better forest planning to boost the forests' resilience, including "a multi-risk prevention system -- for pathologies, blazes, extreme weather events -- with an analysis of the dangers and of the actions necessary to alleviate them."

Forests currently represent more than one-third of the Italian territory, stretching over 11.8 million hectares.

The wood-furniture supply chain is the country's second largest manufacturing sector, employing more than 300,000 workers, according to national wood furnishing association Federlegno-Arredo. Enditem

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