Woodland

Woodland provides an important shelter for the local wildlife, a protection against hydrogeological imbalance, and an energy resource that is coming back into favour. Each year fell around one hectare of trees to produce around a hundred tonnes of high-quality firewood, strictly for local consumption.
Since 1998 we have planted 15 hectares of new woodland, expanding the total wooded area of the estate to 45 hectares. The new plantations have been planned to promote species already present and acclimatised to the area.
We have planted mainly two varieties of oak, pubescent oak in the drier areas and common oak in the wetter parts, alternating them with patches of hornbeam, ash, holm oak, Turkey oak, and included the occasional walnut and cherry trees.
With the help of EU funding, we completed the reforestation in two years. The first year we suffered a serious setback in the form of an unexpected attack by porcupines who ruined a quarter of the oak species. Once the damaged trees had been replaced and the new plantations protected, reforestation went very smoothly after that.

Pruning of cherry trees and pubescent oaks

Woodchips

A few years ago we began working to improve our tree-felling techniques, thanks also to cooperation with the Trees and Timber Institute (IVALSA), the National Research Council (CNR) body based in Florence that deals with wood technologies.
We acquired a woodchipper machine that produces fuel for boilers, which we use to recycle the cuttings and branches that are normally left in the woods, and a lumber trailer with crane for transporting the firewood.
Together with IVALSA and ErreEnergie, biomass boiler specialists, we are conducting a number of trials for recycling vine and olive pruning wastes. Woodland is a very complex environment to work in. The profit margins are very slim and one needs to acquire experience and skills to exploit woodland in a sustainable way. We are taking up that challenge with a passion and in the hope of achieving fruitful results over the next few years.

Hedges

A few years ago we planted two kilometres of hedges, using tree and shrub species native to the Mediterranean scrubland, including hawthorn, blackthorn, dogwood, viburnum, gorse and rose hip.
This was an experimental planting, as in future we plan to use hedges to redesign the shapes of the fields, which were too hastily transformed from the sharecropping layouts, based on experience and manual labour, to the non-design arising out of the introduction of tractors and extensive farming.
This is an ambitious goal because it requires many skills in agronomy, geology, soil science and forestry, plus a lot of experience and the liberty to make investments with very long return times, as is typical with landscape architecture.