EMoNFUr - Establishing a monitoring network to assess lowland forest and urban plantation in Lombardy and urban forest in Slovenia

LIFE10 ENV/IT/000399

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Contact details:

Contact person: Enrico CALVO
Tel: +39 02 67404655
Fax: +39 02 67404299
Email: enrico.calvo@ersaf.lombardia.it

Project description:


The European Union's environmental objectives include the protection of forests and biodiversity. For this, deep knowledge of the status and evolution of artificial and natural urban and peri-urban forests is essential. In the last 30 years, such woodlands have been planted in the Lombardy region of Italy and in other European countries. These woodlands are important because they are normally planted on agricultural land, on former industrial sites or degraded areas. These lowland and natural forests near urban and peri-urban areas provide important ecosystem services. For this reason, a system for monitoring the status of forest plantation and natural forests would be a strategic benefit, allowing the conservation of this natural heritage and guiding long-term sustainable forest management.


The main objective of the EMoNFUr project was to develop a monitoring system for assessing the status of artificial and natural urban and peri-urban forests, and to measure the adaptability of the new lowland forests to climate change. The project aimed to provide parameters of ecological and environmental relevance, such as plant and animal biodiversity in lowland forests, carbon dioxide sequestration capacity, and the ability to mitigate air temperatures. Specific aims included: preliminary monitoring of lowland urban and peri-urban forests in representative sites in Italy (Lombardy) and Slovenia (Osrednjeslovenska region); mapping out a permanent monitoring network; establishing the first general proposal for a harmonised European monitoring network; analysing the ecosystem services offered by artificial and natural urban and peri-urban forest lowland forests in Lombardy and Osrednjeslovenska; and building awareness locally about the importance of monitoring the lowland forests and understanding their role in mitigating climate change.


The EMoNFUr project demonstrated that urban and peri-urban forests play a significant role in reducing the effects of climate change at the urban, and in particular at the peri-urban scale, namely with respect to heatwaves, air pollution mitigation and rainwater storage.

The project created inventories and maps of artificial and natural urban and peri-urban forests in Lombardy, Italy (714 urban municipalities) and for urban forest areas in Slovenia (Osrednjeslovenska region). Artificial forest monitoring networks were established in both countries. This innovative approach enabled the quantitative assessment of the ecosystem services provided by urban and peri-urban forests. The project team collected data related to i) the structure of the natural forest (e.g. species, dendrometric parameters, natural regeneration, ii) the biodiversity (flora, vegetation, habitat and fauna), iii) the health conditions of plants (monitoring of chlorosis and defoliation percentage and the analysis of the tissues for the diagnosis of the pathogen, iv) the microclimate in the sample areas (weather station installations) and v) the soil’s structural and chemicals characteristics.The aim was to promote the conservation of green infrastructures through harmonised management strategies, to enhance the ecosystem services they can provide. The project put special emphasis on collecting information on how urban and peri-urban forests could directly benefit quality of life (e.g. by monitoring air quality and air temperature) and, at the same time, it supports the provision of a healthy environment for recreation, and social activities and cohesion. A range of environmental benefits can be realised by the project’s approach. In terms of alleviating heatwaves and heat islands, in Lombardy a decrease of 0.5°C on the annual average temperature was measured, comparing the data obtained in urban forest pilot plots with that of another urban area of Milan. Differences in air temperature between the city centre (40.13°C) and the urban forest (37.44°C) during a heatwave were also recorded in Ljubljana (Slovenia).

Carbon sequestration was found to be significant only in mature urban woods, like in Rožnik forest (Slovenia); the measured value was effectively above the regional average figure (112 tC/ha against 94 tC/ha). Urban forests had good air quality, with NO2 and O3 levels always under the thresholds fixed by law, while SO2 and NH3 concentrations were effectively negligible. In terms of rainwater storage, Slovenian forests proved to have a significant impact on the regulation of the quantity and the quality of water reservoirs. The project also surveyed the biodiversity of urban and peri-urban forests. For example, 99 and 161 species of vascular plants were recorded in Milan and Ljubljana, respectively, with Phanerophytes being predominant (e.g. 83% in Milan). 22 bird species were found in the Lombardy areas and 50 in Ljubljana, with the highest number in Bosco Fontana (Lombardy), a more mature and natural ecosystem. Peri-urban mature forests in Slovenian had a better conservation status, with higher vegetation and species diversity and good plant health. A dynamic and mature forest structure was found to provide better ecosystem services, in terms of air pollution and heatwave mitigation, of carbon sequestration, and of soil water retention.

The project published the manual ‘Urban and Peri-urban Forests: Management, monitoring and ecosystem services’ on the project website, which compiled scientific contributions from European experts on urban forest conservation. This manual includes details of the monitoring methodologies, the baseline information obtained, and guidelines to scale-up the monitoring strategies to the European level. Also online, the project published the first methodological indicators on the harmonic monitoring of artificial and natural urban and peri-urban forests within a shared monitoring network at European level. Dissemination and awareness-raising activities included communication through mass media, the project website, networking activities, and workshops in Italy and Slovenia.

The monitoring information and the methodologies implemented by the EMoNFUr project contribute to answering questions raised in the ‘Green Paper on Forest Protection and Information in the EU' (SEC(2010)163), related to the key role of European urban and peri-urban forests in terms of ecosystem goods and services, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and conservation of biodiversity. The online manual produced supports and complies with the goals of the European strategy on adaptation to Climate Change COM (2013) 0216, the Green Infrastructure COM (2013) 249, as well as the EU Biodiversity strategy 2020 COM(2011) 244, the EU Forest Strategy COM (2013) 0659, and the biodiversity conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora EU Habitats Directive.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Climate change Mitigation - Carbon sequestration
Biodiversity issues - Urban biodiversity
Climate change Adaptation - Natural resources and ecosystems


forest ecosystem‚  biodiversity‚  urban area‚  monitoring system‚  carbon sequestration‚  ecosystem-based approach

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(2013) 249 final “Communication from the Commission on Green Infrastructure (GI) - Enhancing E ...
  • Land & Soil
  • COM(2013)659 - A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector (20.09.2013)
  • Climate Change & Energy efficicency
  • COM(2009)147 - White paper “Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action” ...
  • COM(2013)216 - EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (16.04.2013)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ente Regionale per i Servizi all’Agricoltura e alle Foreste
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Regional Agency for Agricultural and Forest Services (ERSAF) is an operational body of Lombardy Region that carries out technical and promotional activities in the field of agriculture, forest management, rural development and natural resources management and protection.
Partners Regione Lombardia, Italy Consorzio Parco Nord Milano, Italy Slovenian Forestry Institute/Gozdarski Institut, Slovenia


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/IT/000399
Duration 01-OCT-2011 to 30-SEP -2014
Total budget 1,177,756.00 €
EU contribution 574,021.00 €
Project location Lombardia(Italia)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Project web site - 2 Project's Twitter
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Book "Urban and periurban forests: Management, monitori ...
Publication: Case study "Action 6: Inventory of artificial and natural urb ...
Publication: Case study "Action 6: Inventory of artificial and natural urb ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report "Action 15: Evaluation of governance activities in ...
Publication: Technical report "Action 3: Evaluation of forest monitoring project ...
Publication: Technical report "Azione 9: Definizione di una rete di monitoraggio ...
Publication: Technical report "Action 8: Monitoring data analysis and results: F ...
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Publication: Technical report "Action 5: Definition of working protocol of artif ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version