published on 5 November 2018 in earth

Adverse weather causes the destruction of whole forests

The wave of bad weather in Italy over the past days, in addition to causing huge damage to people, homes and infrastructures, has destroyed countless trees, devastating whole forests in the Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions. According to estimates by Coldiretti (Italian Farmers’ Federation) and Federforeste (Italian Federation of Forest Communities), approximately 14 million trees have been felled, principally beeches, and white and red firs, many of them in centuries-old woodland.  The cause of this environmental disaster was the extremely bad weather that hit Italy in recent days, and in particular extraordinarily strong gusts of wind at speeds exceeding 150 km/h. Neglect and abandonment also played a part, worsening the situation. Coldiretti in fact explains that, in some areas of Italy, forests have advanced taking over uncultivated land, but with a density that makes them totally impenetrable for the required maintenance, protection and surveillance operations. It will take at least a century to return to normal.
The damage in the past days may compromise the ecological and environmental balance of vast areas in the mountains, also threatening hydrogeological stability. Woodland, in fact, is the habitat for a large variety of plants and for numerous populations of mammals, birds and reptiles which, due to the disaster, have been seriously disturbed, while the lack of vegetation cover leaves the way open to landslides and landslips in the event of heavy rainfall.
With the winter tourist season approaching, an authentic race against time has begun to restore the electricity network to operation, check the ski runs and ensure that the ski lifts have not been damaged. The economy of many towns in the area is in fact based mainly on tourism.

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