New Forests

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 527–545 | Cite as

Taking the pulse of forest plantations success in peri-urban environments through continuous inventory

  • Barbara Ferrari
  • Piermaria Corona
  • Leone Davide Mancini
  • Riccardo Salvati
  • Anna Barbati


Urban expansion increases the need for, and pressure on, green areas. Reforestation projects in the rural–urban fringe represent an opportunity for enhancing the environmental quality of peri-urban spaces and a means to contribute to cities carbon neutrality policies. Yet, relatively little information exists regarding the long term (10–25 years) survival and growth rate in urban and peri-urban plantations. This paper reports and discusses the results achieved by a reforestation in the peri-urban space of Rome (Italy), 25 years after its establishment. The plantation has been periodically surveyed between 6 and 24 years of age by means of continuous inventories, with the aim of monitoring growth dynamics. Permanent sample plots have been investigated and stratified by tree species composition (broadleaves vs. conifers, single vs. multispecies) for data analysis. On the whole, plantations show suitable results in terms of rate of growth, carbon storage and uptake, especially in coniferous and mixed stands. The average stand volume of the forest plantation, currently ranges from one-and-a third to one-and-a-half times the average values estimated for natural high forest stands of the same age and species groups at country level. The species groups exhibit differential growth patterns over the observed period, that are mainly due to differences in the ecological traits of the planted trees. Ten years after the establishment, the average annual value of carbon uptake in conifer and mixed species group exceeds 10 Mg CO2 equivalent ha−1 year−1, a figure corresponding to 4 times the value of deciduous broadleaves (oaks and other species) and 1.5 times the value of evergreen oaks. Twenty years after the establishment, the average annual carbon uptake peaks to 25 Mg CO2 equivalent ha−1 year−1 in the mixed species group, exceeds 15 Mg CO2 equivalent ha−1 year−1 in the conifers, and ranks between 6 and 12.5 Mg CO2 equivalent ha−1 year−1 in the groups dominated by broadleaved species. Overall with a surface area just under 300 ha, the carbon uptake level of the Castel di Guido reforestation allows to offset the 0.04% of CO2 emissions of the city of Rome. Although the spatial coexistence of even-aged plantation blocks characterized by a range of ecological traits, is expected to ensure a more continuous carbon sequestration, being less susceptible to damage of any kind, the current lack of silvicultural management may also lead to degradation processes, by triggering e.g. fuel accumulation and, by consequence, forest fires. In this line, recommendations are provided in order to improve the ecological and functional efficiency of the investigated reforestation. The field experiment demonstrates, ultimately, the capability of the continuous forest inventory to take the pulse over several decades of tree species performance and carbon uptake levels in urban and peri-urban reforestations.


Peri-urban reforestation Continuos forest inventory Growth dynamics Tree species performance Carbon sequestration Carbon uptake 



This research was funded by the grant MIUR-PRIN project No. 2012E3F3LK ‘Global change effects on the productivity and radiative forcing of Italian forests: a novel retrospective, experimental and prognostic analysis’.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest Systems (DIBAF)University of TusciaViterboItaly
  2. 2.Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria, Forestry Research Centre (CREA-SEL)ArezzoItaly

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