The ForestaMi trees are among the protagonists of “supersalone” - visitors to the fair will have to make their way through a “wood” made up of some 100 trees to get to the turnstiles at the entrance to the fair. We talked to Fabio Terragni (ForestaMi Project Manager) about the urban reforestation project and his connection with the Salone del Mobile.Milano.
We can’t begin this conversation without discussing the “particular” period we’re living through …
A dramatic summer has just come to an end, characterised by extreme temperatures (Sicily recorded a European all-time high of 48. 8°) and fires in Italy, Greece, Turkey and many other countries, European and non-European. A UN report was published on 19th August [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the international body that assesses climate change, Ed.], which says that there can no longer be any doubt that the increased frequency and intensity of environmental disasters are due to anthropic causes. These conclusions tell us that we need to move on quickly from discussion to action.
Intervening these days means taking action to cut CO2 emissions. This is why we are appealing to companies working in the wood-furnishing sector to make two sorts of investments: one, by cutting carbon emission by rationalising production and innovation activities within the supply chain and two, by introducing compensation mechanisms, i.e. carbon absorption strategies. What we are proposing with ForestaMi is a strategy based on planting and growing urban forests.
What are the ambitions of the ForestaMi project and what have you achieved so far?
The ForestaMi project is geared to planting three million new saplings in the Metropolitan City of Milan area by 2030. We’ve planted almost 300,000, we have lots of projects in the pipeline and are appealing to companies and citizens alike to help us hit our goal.
It’s crucial to represent this vision at “supersalone,” a time for rethinking both the city and the economy post-Covid. Visitors to the fair [from 5th to 10th September at the Rho Milan Fairgrounds, Ed.] will walk through a small wood of 100 medium-height trees, located at the entrance to the event. An equal number will feature inside the exhibition spaces. All of them will subsequently be planted in the Metropolitan City of Milan, thus implementing the ForestaMi project.
What are the areas of intervention within the Municipality of Milan?
Almost 1,000 saplings have gone to the Adriano district over the last few months, where the second phase of the public park is about to open. Another 2,000 have arrived as part of urban plans currently being put into operation through public-private partnerships, such as in Piazza Piola, Viale Jenner, Corso Como, and the planting in the large parks surrounding the city, from Parco Nord to Bosco in Città and Parco Cassinis. Quite soon thousands of saplings will start being planted in green areas adjacent to the city’s large road, rail and service infrastructures.
Let’s talk about the most debated aspects of the initiative: for example it’s important to specify what each donation goes towards and the fundamental difference between saplings and trees.
The donations go towards buying the saplings, planting them and maintaining them for five years. Physiologically speaking, some of the saplings that have been planted, especially the forest ones (which are smaller), are likely to die. Not all of them grow. What we do, working alongside Parco Nord, Parco Sud and ERSAF - the Regional Entity for Agricultural and Forest Services – is to guarantee their maintenance and irrigation for five years.
The saplings also include shrubs and bushes and you have to choose the most appropriate ones, depending on the situation. In urban contexts, there are various sorts of restrictions that have to be taken into account, which may prevent the planting of tall-growing trees, rather trees that grow into shrubs or bushes instead. They do their bit to and contribute to the cause
We also need to make a distinction between simple planting and forestation, which is much more complex.
The term ‘forestation’ is drawn from the construction of an ecosystem that is not made up of individual plants but of the interaction of all the species that live in it. We aim to create high density areas of plants and encourage the creation of ecosystems that also promote biodiversity, such as the arrival of animals and insects, as well as a powerful mitigating effect on the temperatures in the city.
Aside from the actual efficacy of the initiative – which has to be measured scientifically during its various stages – one aspect that shouldn’t be underestimated is the cultural impact of the project, which is a massive vehicle for communication. Can you tell us about this side of things, which often takes second place?
ForestaMi wants to help build a culture of learning around it. We’ll be doing a lot of work on this over the next few seasons and will endeavour to involve citizens more and more (which we’ve only been able to partly do because of the pandemic). The project has nevertheless had a significant communicative impact and attempts to set out our vision for the future: a greener city (which to be honest is something the Milanese aren’t used to). We need to think about new ways of bringing nature into the city. The ForestaMi School is intended to be part of this: one of the ways of increasing awareness and literacy around it in schools. It’s been complicated up to now because of Covid, but in 2021 we got thousands of primary and secondary pupils involved and we aim to do the same in the next academic year.
The ForestaMi project is supported by the Metropolitan City of Milan, the Municipality of Milan, the Lombard Region, Parco Nord Milano, Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, ERSAF and the Milan in the Community Foundation. Set up as a result of research at the Polytechnic University of Milan, thanks to the support of the Falck Foundation and FS Sistemi Urbani.