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Ecological, biological, sivicultural and economical management for optimisation of chestnut wood and alimentary production within a sustainable development frame

The stands of chestnut trees (Castanea sativa Mill.), situated on the foothills in Europe between forests and agricultural land, are important, both from the scenic and environmental point of view, but also for the local economy and culture. These agro-ecosystems are threatened by the activity of man, global change, fungal diseases and by the poor possibility, at a local level, of the commercialisation of their products. This project has a multidisciplinary, scientific approach in biology, genetic improvement, ecology, ecophysiology, pathology and economy, with the aim of giving valid scientific solutions for the optimisation of the management, and a correct use of similar ecosystems for a real sustainable development.

The objective of this research is to determine parameters that emphasise the ecological, biological, silvicultural and economical processes of chestnut trees and their products (wood, fruit), in relation to the different factors (climate, buildings, cultivation) within the individual areas and countries of the European Union for a sustainable development for the future.
Multinational and multidisciplinary research will be carried out on the chestnut trees in the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin.
The primary objectives are:
1) to research management tools to determine the dynamics of vegetation and its consequences (changes in biodiversity), and the factors that could modify them (pathologies, genetics, animals, human impact)
2) to determine the processes that regulate the ecology and functionality of the landscape, investigating organic matter and the bio-geo-chemistry of growth and the management and impact of humankind, in order to know the possibilities modifying the territory at a regional level, and the climatic changes and modifications in terms of 'global change'
3) to be able to evaluate the quality of the ecosystems in their evolution, both for degradation and maintenance of resources and the trophic chain, in order to establish a correct use and management of the environment and nature conservation
4) to evaluate the environmental and economical impact on the area.

Progress to Date
Standardisation of quality parameters has been defined after studying the nut traits and seed composition, and testing the candying aptitude of all clones, which will give each cultivar an optimal market destination.
Experimental field areas have been fenced, water reservoirs constructed and irrigation systems installed to establish the application of soil management practices.
Trees have been characterised and labelled in order to select representative examples and to quantify the biomass production.
The isolation and identification of the main fungal species responsible for post-harvest spoilage in chestnuts have been carried out. In addition, the in vitro resistance of the isolated fungal species to different post-harvest treatments was studied.
DNA analysis, based on the study of micro-satellite loci, was set up and used to check the identity of clones, and to provide fingerprinting on the cultivars. The database will be a useful tool for improving the quality of new plantings by providing reference genotypes of the cultivars.
Observations carried out in the main area of chestnut production showed that Pammene fasciana is the most common Lepidoptera affecting chestnut trees. The definition of biological pest management techniques, using pheromone traps, is in progress.
Photosynthesis measurements have been taken in four areas that will allow evaluation of the quality and quantity of growth, and the primary productivity both in mature plants and saplings after one year.
Restoration management in relation to previous forest-use has been carried out.
The choice of method for the ozone measurement and the technique for the ozone production have been completed.
The effectiveness of different treatments on fungal infection and the effect of cold storage on the quality of Greek chestnuts were evaluated.

The participating countries have all organised various meetings and workshops providing opportunities to exchange ideas. Visits to the experimental fields were organised, together with teaching activities, in many partner countries to show and teach undergraduate and graduate students of agronomy and forestry about the objectives, methodologies and results of the present study.


Scientist responsible for the project

Vialé Andrea Doria, 6
95125 Catania
Italy - IT

Phone: +39 0957382754
Fax: +39 095333231


Project ID QLRT-2000-00029
Organisation Universitŕ degli Studi di Catania - Dip. Metodologie Fisiche e Chimiche per l'Ingegneria
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 September 2001
Duration (months) 42
Total cost 2 014 513 €
Total EC contribution   1 237 597 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners

  • Istituto per le Piante da Legno e l'Aambiente, Italy - IT
  • National Agricultural Research Foundation - Fisheries Research Institute, Greece - GR

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