The Tenuta encompasses two contrasting situations. One is the age-old park, structured architecturally for this purpose with fountains, water lilies and a wide variety of large, majestic trees. Thanks to diversification, many rare animals have made their homes there. The other is a wood invaded by pines which have made it almost impossible for other species to grow there. Yew, rowan, chestnut, downy oak, holly, ash, broom, juniper and cherry can be found in the shade of the extremely tall pines, growing in a disordered fashion since they cannot find space or light. As a result, there is little variety in the wildlife in this area.
All the pine trees suffer from processional caterpillars and cochineal insects, which are compromising the vitality of the pinewoods. For this reason a project is underway to regenerate the wood and increase diversification through the gradual thinning out of the pine trees, the care and protection of other species and the planting of new trees. The use of the forest has been carefully planned so as not to impact negatively on its structure and on its evolution. The trees have not been designed as a resource to be exploited: rather a forest system that, as well as being a natural asset, has to be carefully managed. In order to help this system to strengthen itself and also to benefit the whole surrounding area, plants which are diseased and withered, growing too densely and those which have completed their life cycle will be removed, thereby encouraging the development and protection of other species. Creating firebreaks and using other defensive measures to safeguard and protect the forest also help to improve the quality of the forest.
The flora and fauna in the Tenuta woods are monitored to record the species that are present and to increase biodiversity. Studies are underway to find the best way to protect the land in the Tenuta in order to preserve and protect the flora and fauna.
Our commitment to the environment and our objective of a natural balance and energy in the overall system, is shown by, amongst other things, the chipping of the wood obtained in cleaning the forest, which feeds the central thermal heating system for the buildings of the Tenuta.
I have been hanging from ropes since I was 19 years old, when I started caving as a hobby. I then graduated in Forest Sciences, combining these two together with some other courses and work experience. And here am I, in my 40s, having made a proper career out of these!
The technical work in tree climbing is done using only ropes, pulleys, abseil winches etc, to carry out pruning, maintenance and eventual controlled felling without the use of cherry pickers. The advantage of this technique is to avoid compaction of the soil caused by trucks, damaging meadows and the root systems of trees and also allows for more careful pruning of the interior of the crown. It also creates the possibility of pruning in courtyards and cramped spaces which might preclude mechanical means. Besides being less invasive to the environment, tree climbing also allows a closer relationship to the tree and more in-depth monitoring.
I have been working in the Vorno region for many years but I arrived at Scompiglio almost by accident. At the beginning, my work was limited to the Park area with its enormous and ancient plants, and subject to the limitations of landscape conservation regulations. To begin with, I was daunted by the responsibility of this experience; fortunately I no longer feel that now.
The "restoration" of the Park conditioned me to system of working: that is to operate with "surgical" attention to oneself and to the plants, to anticipate the worst when carrying out every precarious operation and thus to maintain a good margin of safety. The plants in the park were grown for aesthetic purposes, so in this environment the criteria is to work with extreme caution, not to cause damage and not be taken in by the considerable heights to which one generally works on plants of this size.
Another job was to make safe the monumental trees, which had not been worked on for decades; pruning and then reducing, but pruning is best done by a practised eye, and certainly not by the one whose work unfortunately we are forced to see along certain city avenues!
Having finished work in the Park, activity shifted to the Collina dell'Uccelliera (Aviary Hill), where I return to work frequently, as new areas are liberated from the brambles. In this case the plants on which I work are not magnificent and notable examples as they are in the Park, however more and more plants present themselves which are particular with regard to species, shape or position. Plants which frequently germinate and grow under brambles or under pines, and which nevertheless survive, are perhaps for that very reason more remarkable than others. It is therefore a case of identifying more and more the plants or group of particular plants, in a particular location, and to decide which of these to keep, judging either on spatial, aesthetic, or some other criteria, and which to remove for the benefit of superior examples. In one of the first phases all the pines were cleared in favour of native species or those which had migrated from the Park, which beneath the pines were restricted to the status of undergrowth. Working in this context is technically easier than in the Park, if only because there is certainly less potential to do damage. In choosing which plants to select, however, one has to take into consideration aesthetics, functionality, and above all, the relationship and the future interactions of the plants. It also gives me the experience of an immense case study of difficult situations in which to work, which has proved useful whenever I return to the Park to do small remedial works. In these cases, in contrast to the first time, I have no hesitation or uncertainty about the technical methods of that particular job, however complicated it may be.
I am also working at reshaping the forest, which is composed of an upper level dominated by pines which put stress on a rich undergrowth of cherry, rowan, yew, ash, elm, holly and juniper. The aim here is to open up the upper level, either gradually or drastically, whatever is appropriate to each case, so as to bring light to the underlying species, which will develop into a forest of deciduous species more like a natural forest, while at the same time increasing biodiversity. The difficulty in this case is removing the larger pine trees overshadowing the plants we want to conserve without, of course, damaging the latter.
Having worked here for five years, I still feel as if I work within a large workshop which is the Tenuta, and where anyone who is enthusiastic about his own work is given space to experiment and therefore to improve, to achieve a common shared outcome.