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Sustainable forest management in radiata pine plantations: a study case in Sardinia (Italy)
* 1 , 1 , 2 , 2 , 2 , 3 , 1 , 2
1  CREA - Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Forestry and Wood
2  FORESTAS Agency
3  CREA - Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Engineering and Agro-Food Processing


Pinus radiata Don. (radiata pine) was planted in Italy mainly in Sardinia (11,000 ha), where it grows best on acidic soils, in medium mountain-Mediterranean conditions. Plantations were established about 50 years ago, in heavily grazed areas originally occupied by Mediterranean scrub vegetation, as part of extensive reforestation projects carried out with public funds and intended to deliver cellulose pulp to the paper industry. Since the request from the national paper industry ended, fewer exotic species were used, and plantations were often left without thinning and affected by wildfires.

We report a study case in central-eastern Sardinia (Ogliastra, Idòlo Mountain forest, belonging to the municipality of Arzana) where radiata pine stands, in about 45 years of growth, achieve an average production of 21 m3 ha-1 yr-1. Under these conditions, the regional forestry agency supports active forest management with the aim to produce timber (suitable as carpentry timber, for packaging industry, firewood and wood chips) and to start natural processes of regeneration. In order to regulate stand density, two thinning methods (production and crown thinning) and an expanding gap silvicultural system were compared. Traditional mechanization was used for felling and extraction (chainsaw and tractor with forest winch) as well as a harvester (for delimbing and bucking trees) and woodchipper.

The management of the fast-growing radiata pine, as observed in this study case, allows to achieve multiple benefits that are at the heart of forest sustainability: profitable and sustainable wood production (by activating the local economy linked to work timber, firewood and small packaging industry), biodiversity (restoring native forest species and natural regeneration processes), land degradation mitigation (improvement of soil conditions under continuous cover forest conditions), climate change (sequestration of atmospheric carbon and bioenergy production) and social aspects (local occupation).

Keywords: Pinus radiata; plantations; sustainable forest management; Mediterranean; Sardinia
Comments on this paper
Rodolfo Picchio
Session Chair comment
Dear Authors,

your topic full fit with the main aims of this section and conference, congratulation. The case examined in this work represents a thematic continuity with deep socio-economical changes occurred in Italy during the last decades. Through the active forest management applied to radiata pine stands in central-eastern Sardinia, it is possible to pursue several aspects of forest sustainability, decreasing unemployment and creating a local forest-wood supply chain, where the environmental and cultural resources are able to give the area a new boost. I hope to read further developments of this research soon.

Session Chair

Rodolfo Picchio
Giuseppe Pignatti
Dear Chair,
thank you very much for the interest on the topic of our research. In fact we believe that in the context of our study, plantations of exotic species might play a crucial role by providing economical and social benefits to local communities. At the same time, they reduce pressure on native forest formations, which still need high conservation efforts. In our opinion, Continuous Cover Forestry approaches, which are carried out in plantations e.g. in UK, but are new to Mediterranean contexts of Italy, provide positive environmental outcomes, by maintaining optima ecological conditions for natural regenaration of native species and soil cover. For this reason, we intend to study more in deep aspects on how CCF silviculture allows the transition from sensitive artificial planted systems to more resilient ones in Mediterranean contexts as in Sardinia. Overall, the transformation of forest plantations in more resilient ecosystems will be a main issue in our country, considering the extention of reforestations as well (e.g., more than 300.000 hectars of pine species).