Treatment of an alien species (Platanus hyspanica) for the increase of microhabitats

LIFE: Bosco Fontana

Bosco Fontana: urgent actions on a relict habitat

LIFE99 NAT/IT/006245


Specimens of plane tree out of context in relict plain oak-hornbeam.


Treatment of plane trees (Platanus hyspanica), an alien species with no ecological or faunal role, increasing the microhabitats suitable for saproxylic and saproxylobious fauna.

Good Practice Description

Across the Po Valley, the Bosco Fontana Nature Reserve represents one of the last preserved oak-hornbeam groves. The war events of the last century and some meteorological events have caused the forest to undergo a structural impoverishment of considerable importance. This meant that new trees were planted to overcome this problem, even of allochthonous species such as the plane treeand the red oak.

The Life Bosco Fontana project aimed to restore the relict forest to natural conditions, trying to eliminate these species and encourage the creation of micro-habitats for saproxilic and saproxylobious fauna.

Interventions were carried out on the plane tree which consisted in triggering processes of rotting in the plant by creating basal cuts to favor the accumulation of temporary waters and thus producing the basal basins, an ideal environment for saproxilic invertebrates. Another intervention that has been carried out is based on the creation of nesting cavities for birds in the upper part of the plant, dedicated to species that commonly nest in natural cavities.

Territorial Context

The Bosco della Fontana Nature Reserve is one of the best preserved oak-hornbeam relicts on the Po Plain, formations now reduced to only 8000 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

Good practice can also be easily replicated in other contexts and not only with allochthonous species but also with native species if the goal is the creation of microhabitats. It should be noted that it is preferable to carry out these operations on broadleaved trees rather than on conifers, and both can only be carried out on the same plant if the minimum diameter allows it, otherwise the tree may break at the point where the nesting cavity is made. Since the plant tends to react, it is important to periodically maintain the opening of the cavities.

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