Tag Archives: conservancy of nature

Old Italian trees: a step toward worldwide recognition?

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Some years ago I wrote an article (you can read it here) about the importance of trees, especially old trees, and how their ecological role is different from that of a young tree.


Ancient trees are ecological preciosities and need to be preserved for the sake of their ecosystems. Photo by flickr user loshak.*

In Italy, there are specific laws erected to protect ancient trees, especially if they are unique for their species or have some sort of aesthetic or cultural value. Recently, their importance for the preservation of a variety of lifeforms has also started to be recognized. A recently published article by a group of Italian researchers (see below) compared the noteworthy old trees in Italy recorded in a previous list and a new list. They conclude that the new inventory has considerable improvements, although some issues remain, including the presence of exotic, even invasive, species in the list.

But such initiatives are at least important as a first step that may guide us to a better understanding and management of old trees, which are precious elements, but continue to decline worldwide.

Read the study for free:

Zapponi, L.; Mazza, G.; Farina, A.; Fedrigoli, L.; Mazzocchi, F.; Roversi, P. F.; Peverieri, G. S.; Mason, F. (2017) The role of monumental trees for the preservation of saproxylic biodiversity: re-thinking their management in cultural landscapes. Nature Conservation 19: 231–243.

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*Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.


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Friday Fellow: Mauritius Fruit Bat

by Piter Kehoma Boll

So I decided to start a new category of posts here called “Friday Fellow” (yeah, kind of a silly name, but I couldn’t figure anything better!). Every friday I’ll try to bring you one interesting species among our earthling “biosiblings” and talk a bit about it.

The first one to be presented is a nice and cute guy from Mauritius, the so called Mauritius fruit bat or Mauritius flying fox (Pteropus niger).

Mauritius fruit bat (Pteropus niger). Photo extracted from batconservacy.org

However, despite its cuteness, it is the last survivor of the Mascarene-endemic fruit bats and is facing a high risk of extinction. The country has a law to protect them, but (guess what?) fruit growers from the Islands are pressing the Mauritian government to amend that law so that it would allow “culling quotas” to control the bat’s population size, reducing so the “depredation caused to fruit crops”.

Pteropus niger is already listed as an endangered species by IUCN and if its protection is not enforced instead of amended it can in fact became extinct. It’s sad to watch people concerned only about their own problems, trying to fix them in the easiest way, without looking at the aftermath that comes from it. The Mauritius fruit bat its the largest surviving frugivore in the island, having a central role to disperse seeds. Instead of simply hunting it down, the government and fruit growers should realize that protecting the bat’s natural environment (the forests) would let it have plenty of food to consume without looking for it in fruit crops.

Let’s hope that this story will have a happy ending.

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Florens, F. B. V. 2012. Going to Bat for an Endangered Species. Science, 336 (6085), 1102 DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6085.1102-a

IUCN Red List:Pteropus niger. Available at <http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/18743/0 >

Lubee Bat Conservacy: Africa Projects. Availabe online at <http://www.batconservancy.org/africa-projects-bat-conservation.php >

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