Testing an expanded set of sustainable forest management indicators in Mediterranean coppice area

A.Cutini, M.Ferretti, G.Bertini, G.Brunialti, S.Bagella, F.Chianucci, G.Fabbio, R.Fratini, F.Riccioli, C.Caddeo, M.Calderisi, B.Ciucchi, S.Corradini, F.Cristofolini, A.Cristofori, U.Di Salvatore, C.Ferrara, L.Frati, S.Landi, L.Marchino, G.Patteri, M.Piovosi, P.P.Roggero, G.Seddaiu, E.Gottardini

Although coppice forests represent a significant part of the European forest area, especially across southern Countries, they received little attention within the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) processes and scenarios, whose guidelines have been mainly designed to high forests and national scale. In order to obtain “tailored” information on the degree of sustainability of coppices on the scale of the stand, we evaluated (i) whether the main coppice management options result in different responses of the SFM indicators, and (ii) the degree to which the considered SFM indicators were appropriate in their application at stand level. The study considered three different management options (Traditional Coppice TC, coppice under Natural Evolution NE, and coppice under Conversion to high forest by means of periodical thinning CO). In each of the 43 plots considered in the study, which covered three different European Forest Types, we applied a set of eighteen “consolidated” SFM indicators, covering all the six SFM Criteria (FOREST EUROPE, 2020) and, additionally, tested other sixteen novel indicators shaped for agamic forests and/or applicable at stand level. Results confirmed that several consolidated indicators related to resources status (Growing stock and Carbon stock), health (Defoliation and Forest damage), and socio-economic functions (Net revenue, Energy and Accessibility) were highly appropriate for evaluating the sustainability of coppice at stand level. In addition, some novel indicators related to resources status (Total above ground tree biomass), health (Stand growth) and protective functions (Overstorey cover and Understorey cover) proved to be highly appropriate and able to support the information obtained by the consolidated ones. As a consequence, a subset of consolidated SFM indicators, complemented with the most appropriate novel ones, may represent a valid option to support the evaluation of coppice sustainability at stand level. An integrated analysis of the SFM indicators showed that NE and CO display significant higher environmental performances as compared with TC. In addition, CO has positive effects also on socio-economic issues, while TC -which is an important cultural heritage and a silvicultural option that may help to keep local communities engaged in forestry – combines high wood harvesting rates with dense understory cover. Overall, each of the three management options showed specific sustainability values; as a consequence, their coexistence at a local scale and in accordance with the specific environmental conditions and the social-economic context, is greatly recommended since it may fulfill a wider array of sustainability issues.



Epiphytic lichen diversity and sustainable forest management criteria and indicators: A multivariate and modelling approach in coppice forests of Italy

Brunialti G., Frati L., Calderisi M., Giorgolo F., Bagella S., Bertini G., Chianucci F., Fratini R., Gottardini E., Cutini A.

Abstract: Epiphytic lichens represent one of the most suitable indicators of forest continuity and management, especially in the context of ancient and old-growth forests. Nevertheless, they have not yet been included among Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) indicators to which Pan-European forest policy and governance refer. In addition, currently adopted SFM indicators are mainly designed for high forests rather than coppice forests, despite the fact that today this management system covers more than 10% of the total European forests. In this study we investigated these two issues by examining epiphytic lichen diversity in three coppice forest stands, located in the two Italian regions of Tuscany and Sardinia. In particular, we addressed: i) the role of lichen diversity as SFM indicator and ii) its relationship with consolidated and new SFM indicators dealing with structural, health, biodiversity, protective and socioeconomic functions. Multivariate Factor Analysis and Generalised Linear Models were adopted for data analysis. We found that lichen diversity and the frequency of single sensitive species were mainly related to the biodiversity of plants and fungi (Criterion 4), the health and vitality of the forests (Criterion 2) and their protective functions (Criterion 5). Furthermore, our results show that the lichen species highlighted by the models may represent suitable indicators in long-term studies, especially in relation to complex and interconnected aspects of sustainable forest management. Although our findings represent a first contribute to this issue, more in-depth researches will be needed to clarify further aspects of the complex interactions among SFM indicators in the context of coppice forests.



A multi-proxy approach reveals common and species-specific features associated with tree defoliation in broadleaved species

Gottardini E., Cristofolini F., Cristofori A., Pollastrini M., Camin F., Ferretti M.

Abstract: Tree crown defoliation is the most widespread indicator of forest health and vitality in Europe. It is part of the ICP Forests Pan-European survey and it is adopted for reporting under Forest Europe. It is readily understandable and can count on fairly harmonized, long-term, large-scale data series across Europe. On the other hand, it is unspecific with respect to possible causes of damage, and its relation with tree functioning remains unclear. This study focused on European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Turkey oak (Quercus cerris L.), and holm oak (Quercus ilex L.), three important broadleaved forest species in southern Europe. We investigated whether and to what extent morpho-physiological (functional) leaf traits and other indicators of foliar, branch and stem health condition are associated with tree defoliation. We tested the relationship between defoliation and leaf-, branch- and stem attributes, and whether indicators of damage and functional leaf traits significantly differ (Mann-Whitney U Test) between defoliated (defoliation > 25%) and undefoliated trees (defoliation ≤ 25%). For each species, we considered one site (three to five plots each) and n = 11–19 randomly selected trees. For each tree, the following indicators were measured: crown condition (defoliation; leaf-, branch- and stem damage, in terms of extent and intensity of damage), leaf morphology (leaf thickness, leaf area, lamina length, fluctuating asymmetry, specific leaf area, damaged leaf surface), leaf physiology and chemistry (chlorophyll a fluorescence, chlorophyll content, carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes composition δ13C, δ15N, carbon/nitrogen ratio). Results show that, for the selected trees of all the three species, defoliation was positively related to the extent of damage on branches. While increasing defoliation in European beech was also accompanied by several significant differences at leaf level (i.e., leaf damage, leaf volume, dry weight, carbon/nitrogen ratio and photosynthetic efficiency), for Turkey oak and holm oak the significant differences between defoliated and undefoliated trees were limited to damage on branches (both species).



Indicators of sustainable forest management to evaluate the socio-economic functions of coppice in Tuscany, Italy

Autori: Riccioli F., Fratini R., Marone E., Fagarazzi C., Calderisi M., Brunialti G.

Abstract: Due to several ecosystem services provided to the community, the multifunctional management of forests has acquired an important role over the years. The current Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) guidelines are based on planning programmes which are able to achieve targets from socio-economic and environmental points of view. In this paper, SFM indicators have been studied and compared to estimate the sustainability of three coppice options, from both an economic and a socio-environmental viewpoint. Each indicator was studied in relationship to the treatment and to the considered areas. The results of the statistical analysis show differences among treatments, and the possible correlations between the indicators. Moreover, by using principal component analysis (PCA), the correlations between the indicators were analysed, while the ways in which they influenced the examined sites were also considered. In particular, specific homogeneous clusters separating the observed sites were observed based on treatment and geographical gradient. Overall, the set of indicators used has proven to be effective when carrying out an evaluation of the existing types of forest management based on the analysis of three fundamental aspects of the SFM.



Long-term comparison of in situ and remotely-sensed leaf area index in temperate and mediterranean broadleaved forests

Autori: C. Tattoni, F. Chianucci, M. Grotti, R. Zorer, A. Cutini, D. Rocchini.

Abstract: Monitoring vegetation structure and functioning is critical for modelling terrestrial ecosystems and energy cycles. Leaf area index (LAI) is an important structural property of vegetation used in many land-surface, climate, and forest monitoring applications. Remote sensing provides a unique way to obtain estimates of leaf area index at spatially extensive areas. However, the analysis and extraction of quantitative information from remotely-sensed data require accurate cross-calibration with in situ forest measurements, which are generally spatially- and temporally-limited, thereby limiting the ability to compare the seasonal dynamic patterns between field and remotely-sensed time series. This is particularly relevant in temperate broadleaved forests, which are characterized by high level of complexity, which can complicate the retrieval of vegetation attributes from remotely-sensed data. In this study, we performed a long-term comparison of MODIS LAI products with continuous in situ leaf area index measurements collected monthly in temperate and Mediterranean forests from 2000 to 2016. Results indicated that LAI showed a good correlation between satellite and ground data for most of the stands, and the pattern in seasonal changes were highly overlapping between the timeseries. We conclude that MODIS LAI data are suitable for phenological application and for up-scaling LAI from the stand level to larger scales.



Multi-temporal dataset of stand and canopy structural data in temperate and Mediterranean coppice forests

Autori: Chianucci F., Ferrara C., Bertini G., Fabbio G., Tattoni C., Rocchini D., Corona P., Cutini A.

Abstract: We provided long-term stand and canopy structural data from permanent monitoring plots representative of some most diffuse temperate and Mediterranean forests, under different coppice management regimes. Periodic inventories were performed in the surveyed plots since the 1970s. Annual litterfall production and its partitioning (leaf, woody, reproductive parts) and optical canopy measurements using the LAI-2000 Plant Canopy Analyzer were performed every year in fully equipped plots since the 1990s. These data can be used for evaluating the influence of coppice management in the stand and canopy structure, the parametrization of radiative transfer models that require accurate ground truth data, and the calibration of high to medium resolution remotely sensed data. Dataset access is at Associated metadata is available at



Selvicoltura nei cedui italiani: le normative sono allineate alle attuali condizioni?

Autori: A. Cutini, W. Mattioli, F. Roggero, G.Fabbio, R. Romano, V. Quatrini, P. Corona

Abstract: Despite a less intensive management in the recent decades, coppices still cover a large part of Italian woodlands. Currently, they are characterized by relatively large wood volumes, especially with respect of those stands classified as “aged”. The current European and national strategies to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the related increasing demand of renewable bio-energy sources are giving a new boost to the coppice system, so that the need for an improved management of these stands is emerging. Under this perspective, this note highlights the opportunity for an overall revision of current forest laws and regulations at regional level in Italy, in order to embed recent scientific achievements and harmonize some aspects such as definitions, rotation, conversion to high stands, standards, cut size and administrative procedures.



Il ceduo oggi: quale gestione oltre le definizioni?

Autori: G. Fabbio, A. Cutini

Abstract: The economical-social change, the competitiveness and “modernity” of fossil fuels, their prompt diffusion are the concurrent factors that heavily reduced the use of coppice firewood and charcoal since the fifties of the last century. Therefore, a shift took place in the last 60 years from the homogeneous area made of intensively managed, young stands to the more and more differentiated standing crops, as for structural features, growing stocks and growth dynamics, even though all of them originated from a common matrix. Nowadays, the former coppice area includes stands managed under lengthened rotations, outgrown coppices, the coppice conversion into high forest. The 2005 National Forest Inventory reported that 87% of standing crops was included in the age-classes 20-40 and over 40 years, with variable percentages according to tree species, from beech up to thermophilous oaks. Here, the basis of historical judgment on the coppice system, the reasons underlying the outgrown coppice establishment, the current standards of cultivation under even doubled rotations, are critically analyzed. The current demand to reduce the use of fossil fuels by renewable bio-energy sources and to face up the effects of climate change (unpredictability, rainfall reduction, higher air temperature, prolonged droughts, water stress, fire risk) give a new boost to the coppice system. Main goals today are to: (i) optimize the capacity of firewood production to reduce the heavy deficit at the country level; (ii) make the best use of the regeneration ability inherent to the system against the more sensitive regeneration from seed in the changing environment. The positive growth trend, the maintenance of resprouting ability as well as of vital stools density in the outgrown coppice area, address to a sustainable increase of rotations up to the age of 50 years, as already highlighted by a few regional regulations. It would allow the recovery of a current volume increment of 1-1.5 M m3 to internal firewood production. Unsuitable stand locations or bio-ecological conditions as well as stands already under conversion into high forest are obviously excluded. The approach to coppice system maintenance within the variable territorial context, the possible innovation and the definition of flexible silvicultural models are then outlined. The useful updating and harmonization of forest regulations are finally recalled.



Measuring $\beta$-diversity by remote sensing: a challenge for biodiversity monitoring. Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Autori: Rocchini, D., Luque, S., Pettorelli, N., Bastin, L., Doktor, D., Faedi, N., Feilhauer, H., F\'{e}ret, J.-B., Foody, G.M., Gavish, Y., Godinho, S., Kunin, W.E., Lausch, A., Leit\~{a}o, P.J., Marcantonio, M., Neteler, M., Ricotta, C., Schmidtlein, S., Vihervaara, P., Wegmann, M., Nagendra, H. (2018).

Abstract: Biodiversity includes multiscalar and multitemporal structures and processes, with different levels of functional organization, from genetic to ecosystemic levels. One of the mostly used methods to infer biodiversity is based on taxonomic approaches and community ecology theories. However, gathering extensive data in the field is difficult due to logistic problems, especially when aiming at modelling biodiversity changes in space and time, which assumes statistically sound sampling schemes. In this context, airborne or satellite remote sensing allows information to be gathered over wide areas in a reasonable time. Most of the biodiversity maps obtained from remote sensing have been based on the inference of species richness by regression analysis. On the contrary, estimating compositional turnover β‐diversity) might add crucial information related to relative abundance of different species instead of just richness. Presently, few studies have addressed the measurement of species compositional turnover from space. Extending on previous work, in this manuscript, we propose novel techniques to measure β‐diversity from airborne or satellite remote sensing, mainly based on: (1) multivariate statistical analysis, (2) the spectral species concept, (3) self‐organizing feature maps, (4) multidimensional distance matrices, and the (5) Rao's Q diversity. Each of these measures addresses one or several issues related to turnover measurement. This manuscript is the first methodological example encompassing (and enhancing) most of the available methods for estimating β‐diversity from remotely sensed imagery and potentially relating them to species diversity in the field.



Remotely sensed spatial heterogeneity as an exploratory tool for taxonomic and functional diversity study. Ecological Indicators

Autori: Rocchini, D., Bacaro, G., Chirici, G., Da Re, D., Feilhauer, H., Foody, G.M., Galluzzi, M., Garzon-Lopez, C.X., Gillespie, T.W., He, K.S., Lenoir, J., Marcantonio, M., Nagendra, H., Ricotta, C., Rommel, E., Schmidtlein, S., Skidmore, A.K., Van De Kerchove, R., Wegmann, M., Rugani, B. (2018).

Abstract: Assessing biodiversity from field-based data is difficult for a number of practical reasons: (i) establishing the total number of sampling units to be investigated and the sampling design (e.g. systematic, random, stratified) can be difficult; (ii) the choice of the sampling design can affect the results; and (iii) defining the focal population of interest can be challenging. Satellite remote sensing is one of the most cost-effective and comprehensive approaches to identify biodiversity hotspots and predict changes in species composition. This is because, in contrast to field-based methods, it allows for complete spatial coverages of the Earth's surface under study over a short period of time. Furthermore, satellite remote sensing provides repeated measures, thus making it possible to study temporal changes in biodiversity. While taxonomic diversity measures have long been established, problems arising from abundance related measures have not been yet disentangled. Moreover, little has been done to account for functional diversity besides taxonomic diversity measures. The aim of this manuscript is to propose robust measures of remotely sensed heterogeneity to perform exploratory analysis for the detection of hotspots of taxonomic and functional diversity of plant species.



The recreational value of forests under different management systems

Riccioli F., Marone E., Boncinelli F., Tattoni C., Rocchini D., Fratini R., 2018

New Forests


Shaping Future Forestry for Sustainable Coppices in Southern Europe: The contribution of LIFE FutureForCoppiceS project

Poster presentato al 7th ICP Forests Scientific Conference, 21-23 May 2018 - Riga/Latvia

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Il valore ricreativo delle foreste in diversi sistemi di gestione

Riccioli F., Fratini R., Marone E., Boncinelli F., Tattoni C., Rocchini D.

Poster su alcuni risultati del Progetto FutureForCoppices presentato alla Conferenza IUFRO  dal titolo “3rd Restoring Forests: Regeneration and Ecosystem Function for the Future” tenutasi a  Lund (Svezia) il 12-14 settembre 2017

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Poster del progetto LIFE FutureFor CoppiceS presentato al “XXIX Convegno della Società Lichenologica Italiana” (28-30 settembre 2016)

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Spatio-ecological complexity measures in GRASS GIS.

Rocchini, D., Petras, V., Petrasova, A., Chemin, Y., Ricotta, C., Frigeri, A., Landa, M., Marcantonio, M., Bastin, L., Metz, M., Delucchi, L., Neteler, M.

La misurazione della complessità  ecologica nello spazio è di fondamentale importanza in macroecologia e biogeografia. Molti algoritmi sono stati utilizzati in ecologia spaziale per stimare la complessità  degli ecosistemi e il loro cambiamento nello spazio e nel tempo. Tra questi, gli algoritmi basati su codice libero offrono l'opportunità  di garantirne la robustezza e la rirpoducibilità. In questo articolo proponiamo una descrizione delle principali misure di complessità disponibili nel software libero GRASS GIS, relazionandole a processi ecologici.


Boosting the use of spectral heterogeneity in the impact assessment of agricultural land use on biodiversity

Rugani, B., Rocchini, D. (2017)

L'impatto sulla biodiversità  dovuto al cambiamento dell'uso del suolo è un argomento controverso nel campo della stima dei cicli vitali (Life Cycle Assessment, LCA). In questo articolo ci proponiamo di dimostrare come l'eterogeneità  spettrale derivata da dati telerilevati possa rappresentare un importante predittore della diversità  delle comunità  in LCA.


Satellite remote sensing to monitor species diversity: potential and pitfalls

Rocchini, D., Boyd, D.S., Féret, J.B., Foody, G.M., He, K.S., Lausch, A., Nagendra, H., Wegmann, M., Pettorelli, N.

Il telerilevamento satellitare è uno degli strumneit più efficienti per identificare le zone a più alta biodiversità  e prevedere cambiamenti nella composizione specifica delle comunità  vegetali. In questo articolo proponiamo una revisione del potenziale delle immagini da satellite per il monitoraggio dei cambiamenti della biodiversità  vegetale fornendo una panoramica dei potenziali problemi associati all'uso improprio dei dati telerilevati.


2D visualization captures the local heterogeneity of oxidative metabolism across soils from diverse land-use.

Rubol, S., Dutta, T., Rocchini, D. (2016)

I processi a scala di dettaglio nel suolo possono incidere su fenomeni a larga scala. Fino ad oggi, i limiti tecnologici hanno impedito la raccolta di dati microscalari, con una limitata informazione sui cicli bio-geochimici a piccola scala e sul loro cambiamento spaziale e temporale. Lo scopo di questo articolo è quello di mappare in 2 dimensioni la relazione tra concentrazioni di ossigeno ed eterogeneità derivanti da metabolismo ossidativo in differenti tipi di uso del suolo.


Exploring the relationship between remotely-sensed spectral variables and attributes of tropical forest vegetation under the influence of local forest institutions.

Agarwal, S., Rocchini, D., Marathe, A., Nagendra, H. (2016)

La conservazione delle foreste al di fuori delle aree protette è essenziale per mantenerne la connettività , che dipende in larga parte dall'efficienza di sitituzioni locali. In questo studio analizziamo la possibilità  di utilizzare dati Landsat per esplorare la relazione tra struttura della vegetazione e tipi di gestione forestale.


Incorporating spatial autocorrelation in rarefaction methods: implications for ecologists and conservation biologists.

Bacaro, G., Altobelli, A., Camelletti, M., Ciccarelli, D., Martellos, S., Palmer, M.W., Ricotta, C., Rocchini, D., Scheiner, S.M., Tordoni, E., Chiarucci, A. (2016)

Le curve di rarefazione spazialmente esplicita (Spatially Explicit Rarefaction, SER) sono state di recente introdotte nella letteratura scientifica per descrivere la relazione tra la ricchezza specifica e l'intensità  di campionamento, considerando in modo esplicito l'autocorreloazione spaziale nei dati. In questo articolo dimostriamo che i metodi classici che non tengono in considerazione la struttura spaziale dei dati possono portare a risultati fuorvianti.


Long-term response to thinning in a beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) coppice stand under conversion to high forest in Central Italy.

Chianucci F., Salvati L., Giannini T., Chiavetta U., Corona P., Cutini A. (2016)

European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests have a long history of coppicing, but the majority of formerly managed coppices are currently under conversion to high forest. The long time required to achieve conversion requires a long-term perspective to fully understand the implication of the applied conversion practices. In this study, we showed results from a long-term (1992–2014) case-study comparing two management options (natural evolution and periodic thinning) in a beech coppice in conversion to high forest. Leaf area index, litter production, radiation transmittance and growth efficiency taken as relevant stand descriptors, were estimated using both direct and indirect optical methods. Overall, results indicated that beech coppice showed positive and prompt responses to active conversion practices based on periodic medium-heavy thinning. A growth efficiency index showed that tree growth increased as the cutting intensity increased. Results from the case study supported the effectiveness of active conversion management from an economic (timber harvesting) and ecological (higher growth efficiency) point of view.


Measuring Rao’s Q diversity index from remote sensing: An open source solution

Duccio Rocchini, Matteo Marcantonio, Carlo Ricotta

La biodiversità  rappresenta un indicatore diretto della salute degli ecosistemi. Il telerilevamento rappresenta uno strumento potente che permette una copertura dei dati uniforme in tempi relativamente brevi. In questo articolo proponiamo l'uso dell'indice di Rao (Q) applicato a dati da remoto, proponendo una funzione con codice libero basata sul software R per il calcolo dell'indice in due dimensioni.