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/