Italy's diverse mountain regions are made up of the Alps in the north and the Apennines, which traverse the length of the peninsula. The Alps, formed through tectonic activity over 770 million years ago, have been subject to extensive scientific investigation and today provide valuable insights into the Earth's crust and the processes shaping it. The Apennine Mountains, although less imposing in elevation, contribute to Italy's physical geography and climate. These mountain ranges support diverse ecosystems and are crucial spaces of research to better understand ecological dynamics, assess climate change impacts, and develop conservation strategies.

While Italy’s mountainous regions offer exceptional opportunities for scientific research and a wealth of ecological and environmental significance, they are also sites of marginalisation and ecological distress. Like many others, Italy’s marginalised mountainous regions pose connectivity and accessibility challenges, and can make it difficult for communities to access basic services such as healthcare, education, and transportation. Despite these obstacles, these areas hold profound socio-economic importance, drawing tourists, contributing to the local economy, and serving as crucial water catchment areas that support downstream communities and agricultural activities.

Making the Management of Mountain Commons Fit-for-Future through Community Engagement and Knowledge Co-Creation

Since the turn of the last century, there has been little doubt that to survive in fragile mountain territories, things had to be done together. But how has this way of managing goods and resources changed in recent times? The story of five young people and two mountain villages in Italy invites us to reflect on the role that the collective management of goods and resources can play today.

The Sweet Chestnut Tree as a Source for Socio-Economic Recovery in Italian Marginalised Mountain Areas

Italy is home to a variety of mountainous regions, including the Italian Alps, the Apennines, the Sardinian Highlands, and the Sicilian mountains. While many boast beautiful and diverse landscapes, a handful of these regions are considered marginalised, meaning that they face socio-economic disadvantages in comparison to other mountain areas. Although the degree of marginalisation can vary over time, affected mountainous regions largely include those located in Southern Italy, central parts of Sardinia, the Northern Alpine valleys, and the Apennine mountains.

Notable Projects

The below projects actively support research and life in Italian marginalised mountain areas. MARGISTAR believes that their efforts are worth highlighting and invites you to follow these projects online or connect with their representatives within the MARGISTAR consortium.

The ALPSTREAM Research Centre

MARGISTAR Contact: Alberto Doretto, Università del Piemonte Orientale ([email protected])

The ALPSTREAM Centre involves the Università degli Studi di Torino, the Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, and Politecnico di Torino, and works towards the conservation of alpine rivers and water supplies in mountain areas.
ALPSTREAM's artificial flumes allow for experiments on the ecological, biological and eco-hydraulic aspects of stream ecosystems. This helps researchers explore different biological components like bacteria, fungi, algae, and macroinvertebrates in alpine rivers.


MARGISTAR Contact: Stefano Bruzzese, Università degli Studi di Torino ([email protected])

The local research project CASTAGNOPIÙ, financed by the Piedmont region’s Measure 16 in the Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020, aims to create new value from the chestnut wood resource.
The advances and results obtained from this project will serve as a base for relaunching and extending to broader spatial scales and, ultimately, to a national scale. This initiative also aims to raise awareness for the issues of marginalised areas within Italian society.

Research Centre on Inner Areas and the Apennines

MARGISTAR Contact: Prof Roberto Tognetti, Università degli Studi del Molise

ArIA, founded in 2016, is a research centre that addresses the problems of internal areas with the aim of identifying actions and methods to promote the improvement of the lives of the people who live there.
Environment, society, health, economic development, cultural heritage, infrastructure and the territory are the main fields of research of the centre, which brings together scholars from different cultural backgrounds.


MARGISTAR Contact: Matteo Vizzarri and Giorgio Vacchiano – Università degli Studi di Milano

The research project LIFECO2PES&PEF has simulated future forest dynamics and management practices to minimise a region’s vulnerability to extreme climate events and hydrological risks.
By identifying forest areas prone to natural disturbances, researchers are now able to distribute disturbance management practices more effectively and support the long-term adaptive governance of mountain forest landscapes.

Nurturing forests and mountain landscapes in Italy: a story of threats, loss, and resilience

Mountain forests have long stood as sentinels of traditional customs and providers of essential resources, but they now face unprecedented threats due to climate change, nature loss, and land degradation. Recent data reveals a chilling statistic: over the past two decades, more than 7% of all mountain forests worldwide have been decimated, an area equivalent to the size of Turkey. The loss of these forests has reached an alarming pace, with rates nearly doubling after 2010.

Exploring Italy’s Backbone: The Remarkable Resilience of Mountain Forests

Italy's Alpine and Apennine mountain chains are adorned with sprawling forests that act as vital sources of natural resources for the entire nation. From remote mountain villages to urban centres in the country’s plains, these mountain forests play a vital role in supporting Italy's ecosystem. They provide a home for endangered species, offer resources for local communities, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and safeguard people against natural disasters like landslides, floods, and avalanches.

Supporting Biodiversity Through Local Engagement With Shepherds

Dr Laura Boffi is an interaction design researcher and practitioner with a background in product design. She just completed a one-year research fellowship at the Università Ca' Foscari Venezia in Italy. In this blog, Laura delves into a participatory project focused on biodiversity conservation and local agropastoral traditions, which was inspired by her conversations with a local shepherd in Abruzzo, Italy.

Meet MARGISTAR's Italian Members

Dr Alberto Doretto

Researcher at University of Turin

Alberto is a river ecologist and works as researcher at University of Piemonte Orientale as well as at the Alpine Stream Research Center in Ostana (Italian Cottian Alps). His research focuses on evaluating the response of stream macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of the river ecosystem to natural environmental gradients and anthropogenic pressures in alpine rivers. In particular, he is interested in examining the ecological consequences of hydro-morphological alterations; especially the excessive accumulation of fine sediment due to sediment flushing operations from dams, and flow intermittency as a consequence of global change.

Cristina Dalla Torre

Researcher at the Institute for Regional Development at Eurac Research

Cristina has a background as an environmental economist and is currently a PhD student in rural economy at the University of Padova. Her research seeks to identify transformative actions and practices towards just and sustainable futures, understand how interacting global and regional changes affect collective resource governance in mountain regions, work with mountain communities and stakeholders to catalyse transformations with a trans-disciplinary approach, and contribute to re-define ethical and mutually benefitting relationships between science and society. Aside from working in academic settings, Cristina is committed to enable thriving mountain communities and habitats by being active in associations and in non-governmental organisations.

Elisa Ravazzoli

Vice Head of Center for Climate Change and Transformation at Eurac Research

Elisa coordinates the research group "Space and Society" since 2018. She holds a BA in Sociology, a MA in Geography and Territorial Processes and a PhD in Economics from the University of Bologna. By education, she is a systemic thinker and enjoys working in inter and transdisciplinary research projects. Her specific research interests relate to: spatially situated social practices, social innovations, local and regional development processes, transformative actions towards sustainability and community resilience.

Dr Giorgio Vacchiano

Assistant Professor at University of Milan

Giorgio is an Assistant Professor in Forest Management and Planning at University of Milan.

Dr Matteo Vizzarri

Researcher at University of Milan

Matteo is a researcher of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of Milan.

Dr Nicola La Porta

Researcher at Fondazione Edmund Mach

Nicola obtained a degree in Forest Sciences in 1989 at the University of Florence and a PhD in Forest Pathology at the University of Bologna in 1995. He did two years of scholarship at the CNR of Florence and spent a period of 3 months at the University of Wageningen with a scholarship from the MIUR. He then spent 4 years at the University of Helsinki, winner of an EU Human Capital and Mobility project and a Return Fellowship at CREA in Montanaso Lombardo.

Prof Roberto Tognetti

Full Professor at University of Molise

Roberto Tognetti received a M.Sc. in Forest Science from the University of Firenze and a Ph.D. in plant ecophysiology from Trinity College, Dublin. He is full professor of forest ecology and management. His research focuses on forest ecophysiology, studying the interactions between climate change, environmental disturbance, and functional ecology, integrating ecosystem processes and ecological indicators over a range of spatial and temporal scales. He was the chair of the EFI (European Forest Institute) Project Centre on Mountain Forests (MOUNTFOR) and the COST Action CA15226 Climate-Smart Forestry in Mountain Regions (CLIMO).

Stefano Bruzzese

PhD Student at University of Turin

Stefano Bruzzese is a PhD Student in Rural and Forest Policy and Economics.

Dr Valentino Marini Govigli

Junior Assistant Professor at University of Bologna

Valentino is a Junior Assistant Professor at the Department of Agri-Food Sciences and Technologies of the University of Bologna. He holds a PhD in Forest and Cultural ecology, a MRes in Ecology and Environmental Management, and a BAE in Economics. His fields of expertise are socioeconomics of agro-forest goods and services, consumer behaviour and stakeholder preferences, intangible ecosystem services assessment, social innovation brokerage and multi-actor engagement. Valentino has more than eight year of experience in applied agro-forestry research. Currently he works in the H2020 Project FOODLAND and LOWINFOOD, exploring best practices for food nutrition and sustainable farming in African food value chains through behavioural and experimental economics.