The whole body of experimental trials established since 1922 (year of former establishment in Firenze) is a scientific, technical, historical-cultural heritage.
The scientific value
Since the beginning, the close links with transnational research networks and the early, active cooperation with international bodies as IUFRO and FAO contributed to the development of forestry in our country. Main topics as the introduction of exotic species aimed to ensuring wood security started in the twenties of last century with a systematic plot network, each species being cultivated in accordance with its auto-ecology under its proper growth environment . Following the first phase, the experimentation continued up to the seventies on a number of selected species. Other issues concerned the breeding of poplars spp; the conservation of forest ecosystems (the protected areas network); the development of the agro-forestry systems for reclamation of degraded lands, protection of crops and production of wood for farmers; the mountain restoration of the overexploited cover by re-afforestations new as for techniques and tree spp.; the preservation of biodiversity by comparative trials of provenances, progeny tests and conservation ex situ. The question of management systems between coppice and high forest, coppice forests representing more than one half of forest cover, was one the last major themes of applied research addressed.
Today, the study of specific adaptive traits to climate change, the testing of adaptive techniques of silvicultural management and related forest ecology themes, the experimentation of new forms of multifunctional use going beyond the “steady” state of sustainable forest management principles, the intensive forest monitoring to tackle the emerging change of growth medium and the overlapping disturbance factors, are being approached under the AIR, FAIR, FPs, ICP, LIFE+ and H2020 programmes.
The technical and operational value
The parallel research effort, based on regional to local trials and projects, provided a wide set of technical rules to forest managers and stakeholders as well. The basis for their innovative implementation in the contexts of semi-natural forests, the protective afforestation domain, the agro-forestry sector, the formerly abandoned lands and following natural forest recovery.
The commitment to monitoring - by the experimental method - the long-term dynamics of forest systems, the comparison of differentiated or alternative theses, allowed to test their suitability and evaluate their effectiveness in terms of bio-ecology, economics, societal expectations, rural development. Monitoring these trials resulted in the updated knowledge of systems’ dynamics, in being able to address forest policy, decision-making and to provide yet the reference for a silvicultural practice consistent to different forest types and contexts.
The historical-cultural value
The experiments undertaken throughout the full time of activity, the first ones being dated already one century, are the evidences of recent important and extensive societal and economical changes occurred throughout our country from the early prevailing rural settlements to the later mass urbanization. These trials reflect the different relationship of humans with forest domain from a long-lasting source of goods and commodities to a semi-natural environment needing a wide restoration after centuries of use and misuse, to the current direct interface between human safety, well-being, quality of life and inherent forest ecosystem services, first of all their mitigation ability.