The SERM took place from 16th of May until 27th of May 2016 (first day for arrival and last day for departure) in central Italy, in the regions of Tuscany, Lazio, Abruzzo and Campania. It has been organized by AUSF Firenze, AUSF Viterbo e AUSF Napoli, mixing their nature, history and cultural heritages. Due to the complexity of organization, AUSF Italia (Confederation of Italian Forestry Students’ Associations) has co-organized the event to assist the three Organizing Committees.
During this meeting, we focused on Biodiversity in the Mediterranean Area, with its incredibly various natures, inside very different forests and forest management methods.
The SERM is a meeting for the Forestry students of each LC (Local Committee) of Southern Europe and some guests from other LC in World. Every year it is organized in a different southern European country, welcoming about 50 students and over than 20 IFSA Local Committees from Belgium to Turkey. The IFSA, International Forestry Students Organization, is the largest network of forestry and forest-related sciences students in the world: a non-governmental, non-lucrative and non-religious organization entirely run by students for students.
The event has welcomed forestry students coming from: Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and two participants from Canada and Chile.
Over the eleven days period, it has been shown to the IFSA members, the features and biodiversity of the Italian forestry landscape.
Indeed, the main topic was “The Mediterranean biodiversity”. The event started in the reserve of Vallombrosa, Tuscany, where the Italian Forestry sciences were born, showing them the evolution of the forestry management techniques, from the monks to the birth of the first graduate forestry course. The participants attended a workshop about the use of drones in the Fresh Life project; they visited the Vallombrosa’s botanic garden and an experimental forest area.
After this, they moved to Viterbo. The first part was held in Torre Alfina,(VT) a little village in the heart of the Monte Rufeno Natural Reserve. Here students received an introduction about the assessment plan of the reserve and a lecture by Professor Mercurio called “Forest types and forest management in Italy”.
The next days, there were seminars at Tuscia University about “The Forests of Tuscia: conservation, Management and Products”.
A special guest was invited for the conclusion: The General Secretary of PEFC Italia Antonio Brunori. He testified how important was for his career, being an active member of a student association. Indeed he was the founder of the IAAS and co-founders of the IFSA, organizing 30 years ago in Italy the first International Forestry Student Symposium (IFSS).
After that, they visited a beech forest, a chestnut coppice and a sawmill in the Mount Cimino.
Subsequently the group moved to the Sabina region, where a camp was organized. There, it was possible to visit a unique Cupressus-Quercus Italic forest at Salisano and then a hike to Mt. Pizzuto and Fonte Regna beech and holly oak forest with Prof. Alfredo di Filippo. Biodiversity, forestry management and dendrochronology were the topics analyzed during those activities.
The last part of the event was in the Campania region. The students were welcomed in the royal Palace of Portici, that today hosts the agro-forestry department of the University Federico ll . During those day we visited Parco Gussone, the Vesuvius National Park, Portici Botanical Garden, The CFS center with Forest fire Area Simulator (FFAS) and then a hike to the breathtaking Valle delle Ferriere, a path that lead directly from the mountains to Amalfi cost. The last day was spent at Mount Faito, where a wonderful sunset on the Gulf of Naples, ended the SERM 2016.
In conclusion, this meeting has represented a unique opportunity to rise the students’ awareness about what is going on in other countries, it has improved the capacity of a critic point of view, showing a broader panorama of issues, challenges and hypothetic solutions. It has helped also to create a strong network between the academic and professional sector, giving the participants and the organizers a first taste of how it’s going to be the job world. On 27 th of May, the closing cerimony took of the Southern European Regional Meeting 2016 finally took place.