Techniques for the eradication of Quercus rubra with increase of dead wood

LIFE: Bosco Fontana

Bosco Fontana: urgent actions on a relict habitat

LIFE99 NAT/IT/006245


Eradication of invasive alien species, such as red oak, in plain oak-hornbeam.


Eradicate Red Oak (Quercus rubra), an alien species, through interventions that simulate events that normally take place in nature. Its eradication allows, at the same time, the creation of long-term benefits, such as the increase of dead wood in its different different types (broken trees, completely or partially uprooted trees, standing dead trees) and the creation of gaps in the tree canopy, useful to host the flowers that are indispensable for the adult stages of the saproxylic invertebrate fauna.

Good Practice Description

This good practice was developed in the context of the Life Bosco Fontana project, and carried out in the Natural Reserve of the same name, which represents one of the last plain oak-hornbeam in the Po Valley. In the last century this has been the subject of deforestation, compensated with the planting of alien species such as red oak, which today must be eliminated without however damaging the forest ecosystem.

This good practice has provided for the eradication of this species through various techniques:

  • uprooting of trees by traction with a forest winch;
  • by means of a double ring-barking, that is by interrupting the flow of lymph and bringing the plant to decay;
  • truncating trees at a certain height by means of a forest winch or explosive charges.

All these techniques allow to have dead wood standing and not, ideal environment for the development of saproxilic fauna, among which there are also species protected by the Habitats Directive.

Territorial Context

The Bosco Fontana Nature Reserve is one of the best preserved oak-hornbeam relicts on the Po Plain, formations now reduced to only 8.000 ha. It is located in the Po Plain, the territory of which is probably the most further away from a natural condition amongst the Italian landscapes, and this is proven by the presence of major urban centres, industrial areas, intensive cultivations and a particularly extended road network. The Reserve is therefore beleaguered by a network of roads, the advance of urbanisation and the presence of intensive agricultural crops with irreparable effects of bio-geographical isolation.

Replicability conditions

The good practice can also be replicated in other contexts, obviously it is essential to provide adequate equipment.

Dissemination material

From the GoProFor database, in the final part of the sheet, it is possible to download material related to the project and in particular a publication entitled " Techniques for re-establishment of dead wood for saproxylic fauna conservation" as well as other technical documentation.

Presentation of the Nature Reserve of Bosco Fontana

This good practice was carried out in Bosco Fontana.

A video explains what it is and who manages this important reality for the conservation of Italian forests