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Freie Universität Bozen

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“Climbing For Climate” in South Tyrol focuses on “Climate, Forests and CO2”

The third edition of the event organized in cooperation with the network of Italian Universities for Sustainable Development (RUS) took place on the Ritten-Renon High Plateau.

Last Saturday, in a picturesque gathering high atop the Ritten-Renon Plateau, representatives from unibz and its Competence Centre for Economic, Ecological, and Social Sustainability converged with experts from various fields to participate in the “Climbing For Climate” meeting. This time the event was dedicated to the crucial topic of “Climate, Forests, and CO2”. The occasion was a testament to the collaborative efforts of academic institutions, environmental organizations, and governmental bodies, and it underscored the significant value of ongoing research in understanding and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The “Climbing For Climate” event brought together a diverse array of participants, including representatives from the Provincial Forestry Corps, the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), the South Tyrolean Alpine Club (AVS), and the European Commission. Interested and curious citizens, lecturers and researchers as well as students and doctoral students from different faculties also attended the event. This diverse group was united by a shared commitment to addressing one of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change.

A highlight of the event was the visit to the “Selva Verde” carbon fluxes measuring station. Here, participants had the opportunity to witness firsthand the sophisticated instruments used to measure the “breath of the forest”. Prof. Leonardo Montagnani (unibz) showed how the instruments at the site make it possible to quantify the 'breath of the forest', i.e. the balance between the photosynthesis of plants and the respiration of all organisms, and how the forest can balance at least a small part of human carbon dioxide emissions. He also showed how these data are shared daily, together with those of other measuring stations, in a database of the European ICOS infrastructure, available to scientists worldwide. Alessandro Cescatti (European Commission) explained how the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to assimilate carbon dioxide may decrease in the near future, when trees, due to climate change, will live in their current location in temperature conditions no longer suitable for them. Finally, Stefano Minerbi, the station’s former manager, recounted the history of the site, which started out in the 1980s as an observation point on the effects of pollutants and has become one of the main centres for quantifying carbon dioxide exchange between the forest and the atmosphere.

Following the discussions and exploration, the participants enjoyed the clear skies of the Ritten-Renon mountain. Some ventured to the Unterhornhütte-Corno di Sotto refuge, where they engaged in extensive discussions on the vital role of forests in a changing climate. Others ascended to the summit of the Rittner Horn-Corno del Renon, relishing the breathtaking 360-degree views of the South Tyrolean Alps and the Dolomites.

Prof. Camilla Wellstein and Prof. Johann Gamper (unibz), the organizers of the event, emphasized the importance of both long-term measuring stations like 'Selva Verde' and collaborative initiatives involving researchers, students, and professionals from diverse backgrounds. They believe that “such efforts are instrumental in developing a more comprehensive understanding of sustainability issues and charting a path toward a more resilient and sustainable future”.