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Plant Sociology numero 54 (1) S1

pag. 11-18: Beech-wood restoration in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park (central Apennines, Italy)

A.R. Frattaroli1, G. Pirone1, V. Di Cecco1, C. Console2, F. Contu3 & R. Mercurio3

1Department of Life Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, Via Vetoio Loc. Coppito, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy.

2Italian Carabinieri-Forest Corps, Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, Loc. Fonte Cerreto, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy.

3Italian Society of Forest Restoration (SIRF), c/o Department of Agriculture, Forests, Nature and Energy (D.A.F.N.E.), Via S. Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy. doi: 10.7338/pls2017541S1/02

doi: 10.7338/pls2017541S1/02

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abstract

Beech-wood (Fagus sylvatica L.) restoration in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park (central Italy) started in 2001, in areas that were degraded by overgrazing and overexploitation, which had led to the fragmentation and degradation of the beech woods. The objectives of the ecological restoration were to reverse the fragmentation through the re-activation of the ecological functionality of the forest system. Some innovative criteria were introduced concerning the modification of the Miyawaki method, using a few tree species and involving a low mechanisation of all the planting and tending operations. In the experimental area, the vegetation restoration started with successional tree species that belonged to the same vegetation series, of the association Actaeo spicatae-Fagetum sylvaticae. The cultural tecnique followed the criteria of sustainability from the ecological, social and economic points of view. The results 14 years after the planting show: (i) Prunus avium, Betula alba, Salix caprea and Populus tremula as the tree species with greatest growth; (ii) High survival rates and good vitality status for all of the planted trees, except for some damage caused by wild herbivores (eating and stripping of the bark), and by recent snowfalls; and (iii) Some species fruiting (Prunus avium, Acer pseudoplatanus, Sorbus aucuparia and Sorbus aria), and evidence of relatively frequent natural regeneration. Analysis of the flora shows that the situation is still very similar to the initial conditions, with prevalence of species of secondary pastures dominated by Brachypodium rupestre (Brometalia erectii), and with the stand crown cover at 80%. On the contrary, where the stand crown cover had reached 100%, there were some nemoral species in the herbaceous layer, of Fagetalia sylvaticae. With these generally good results, this experience reveals some open aspects relating to enhancing forest restoration in protected areas, as the need for: (1) Control of the game population; (2) Identification of the local provenances of all of the species that are used in future forest restoration activities; (3) Production of nursery material of high quality; and (4) Initial stocking density >1100 ha–1.

keywords

forest restoration, Fagus sylvatica, Italy, Miyawaki method, potential natural vegetation, planting system, protected areas