ABandonment and REbound: SOcietal views on landscape- and land-use change and their impacts on water and soils

ABRESO is a Belmont Forum project funded by the Department of Earth Sciences and Technologies for the Environment (DSTTA). The project aims to create a transdisciplinary platform to understand the natural and socio-economic factors that lead to land abandonment and subsequent land use change and alteration of ecosystem processes in the Critical Zone. The results of the activities carried out over the 3 years of the project (2021-2023) will enable stakeholders to apply solutions for sustainable management of the air-soil-vegetation-water system.

The ABRESO project is collaborative project of research teams from France, Japan, Taiwan, U.S. and Italy with four CNR Institutes (IGG-Pisa, IRET, IIA, IRCrES) in collaboration with the University of Pavia. 

In Italy, three mountain areas in the Alps were selected, in the Gran Paradiso (Noaschetta) and Val Grande national parks and in Tesino. The stakeholders of the project in Italy are the Gran Paradiso and Val Grande National Park, UNCEM, Tesino municipalities, farmers and tourists.

Since the 1960s, traditional practices of mountain grasslands and crop management – seasonal grazing, hay production and terrace cultivation – have been gradually abandoned in the lowland and valleys of the Italian Alps, causing reforestation in the western Alps, and the expansion of urban areas that increased the risk of contact between wild animals, livestock, and humans in the eastern Alps. 

The Italian team aims to assess the effects of induced land-use changes on carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling (chemical-isotopic characterisation of C and N in soils and vegetation, CO2 fluxes) and on plant biodiversity (physiological measurements, phenology), in the context of the transition from grassland (active and non-active) to forest.

Field research will be complemented by larger-scale surveys using remote sensing techniques (land use maps over time, snow cover algorithms and primary productivity). The multidisciplinary research includes socio-economic sciences that will assess the perception of land-use change in the project countries on the processes at work. 

CNR PI of the project: Maddalena Pennisi (maddalena.pennisi@igg.cnr.it)

Project video presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcPGeJLoykI

Website: https://sites.psu.edu/abreso/  


The IRCrES-CNR questionnaire

The Land Use Change Perception Survey

As part of the project, IRCrES-CNR is conducting a survey on the effects of land use change in the mountains. The online questionnaire is addressed to citizens, residents, workers and frequenters of the Italian mountains and is available at the following link: https://forms.gle/BWCMf8as9qkeYXip9.


Past events

  • ABRESO meeting - Noasca, Torino 14-15 March 2022

Members of the Social Science-Abreso international research group met on 14 and 15 March to discuss the project and visit the site in Noasca (Gran Paradiso). The activity was organised by IRCrES.  The meeting was also attended by researchers from the Natural Science-Abreso group. The  team was a guest of the Gran Paradiso National Park Visitor Centre, visited the school in Maison and interviewed numerous local stakeholders. The objective of the visit was to outline the dynamics of land use change and pasture abandonment in the Noasca area, and to understand stakeholders' perceptions of the change, also in comparison with what is taking place in the other countries studied in ABRESO. See photos of the event.


  • ABRESO All-Hands Workshop - online 7, 14 and 16 November 2022

Compilation "ABRESO project's All-Hands Meeting" November 2022: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJ_NfrZiF3jdjDln-BucnqVUiLd3_FuAw.


  • Researchers' Night 2022 edition - 30 September 2022

Pisa: In the Area della Ricerca del CNR, researchers from IGG and IRET with the initiative “Cacciatori di Carbonio: come scovarlo in aria, suoli, foreste e praterie” accompanied visitors to trace the path of carbon, with on-site measurements obtained using the instruments of the CNR laboratories. The activity was aimed at assessing the exchange of carbon between soil and atmosphere as a function of vegetation, environment and geological context;

Bari: At the Parco Rossani  in Bari, headquarters of ERN-Bari 2022, IIA researchers with the initiative "Tecniche di Osservazione della Terra e monitoraggio di biodiversità ed ecosistemi"  illustrated the main techniques for processing satellite data, acquired by various sensors and processed with dedicated software and/or codes developed ad-hoc in different development environments. The activity aimed to show the extraction of essential variables that contribute to the study of biodiversity, ecosystems, and the impact of climate change in the short and long term;

Torino: At the IRCrES headquarters, researchers with the initiative “Sostenibilità dei territori: approcci multidisciplinari alle trasformazioni sociali e naturali”  addressed the topic of sustainability, explored through the eyes of the social and natural sciences. On this topic, the international ABRESO team (United States, Japan, Taiwan, France and Italy) developed a questionnaire on the perception of land use changes in mountainous areas. See the CNR news: https://www.cnr.it/it/evento/18128


  • International Workshop C4 'Climate Change and the Carbon Cycle' - Pisa, 22-24 June 2022

ABRESO researchers presented the biogeochemical, remote sensing and social science aspects of the project. Watch the presentation: Combining bio-geochemistry, remote sensing and social sciences to assess the effects of land use change within the CZ framework: the ABRESO project.