SilvaCuore: the App that takes our forests to heart

A team of researchers from the University of Basilicata has developed an ambitious project to safeguard Italian forests. The aim is to combine scientific research and active participation of the community through the use of new technologies in order to better monitor and manage the Italian forest heritage.

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© Un-perfekt on Pixabay

The health of forests is becoming increasingly vulnerable. The causes of this phenomenon are different: from the increasingly frequent and intense extreme climatic events to human mismanagement. In recent decades the forest decline phenomena have been reported across the globe, both at regional and local level. In Italy too, forest dieback has been observed in several cases. The widespread forest mortality and the growing interest to understand the forest conditions in our environment: these assumptions have led to the creation of SilvaCuore.

SilvaCuore is a new App designed to survey declining forest areas in Italy and collect data that can be used as a baseline for the future management of such areas.

Forest decline is nowadays a very alarming phenomenon with severe environmental consequences – says Prof. Francesco Ripullone, Professor of Ecology and Dasometry at the School of Agricultural, Forestry, Food and Environmental Sciences of the University of Basilicata as well as co-founder of the SilvaCuore app – so it is essential that we understand and monitor the evolution of this phenomenon over time to be able to plan measures for improving the resistance and resilience of our forests“.

The choice of a heart as the App’s logo is no coincidence, because the intention is to awaken, especially in the younger generations, a love for our forest heritage and the desire to actively contribute to its protection.

SilvaCuore allows both scientific specialists and citizens to contribute to the monitoring of the forest health. This is, indeed, a Citizen Science project, which focuses on citizens’ direct engagement, thus enabling them to become the real protagonists of scientific research.

Our App, developed and realized in co-operation with the spin-off company Effetreseizero of Trento, is now available for smartphones, tablets and PCs. The graphics are designed to offer a user-friendly and intuitive interface, and the application leads the user step by step in the alerting process.

Saving our forests with a click, or if we prefer, by pushing the touchscreen of our smartphone:   that’ s all you can do with SilvaCuore” – explains Prof. Ripullone – “the challenge of this project is to develop a forest monitoring network with the contribution of an active users’ community“.

© Maria Castellaneta

Several bodies are supporting the initiative, which is funded under the PON OT4 Clima project: the University of Basilicata, but also the “Forests, between Mitigation and Adaptation” working group of the Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the National Research Council.

Indeed, it represents a relevant chance aiming at combining and integrating the efforts carried out over the years by the different institutions: all sharing the same goal, namely the purpose of understanding the widespread forest decline in Italy, so as to be able to plan the necessary monitoring and managing measures.

The App, the promoters of the initiative explain, is also linked to a website, which provides more information about the project, the reasons that have led to the app’s implementation and the research activities carried out by the Silvacuore team. Therefore, it is crucial to improve the approach to nature and environmental issues: a more aware citizen is a citizen much more attentive to the environment and its protection.

The reporting results will give us a concrete idea of the current forest health. All you need to do is to sign in to the App, and then proceed to submit your report.

Through everyone’s contribution, our forests and their health status will be restored.

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