In the Spotlight: Francesca Santaniello

Jun 5, 2014

Francesca is working at Skogforsk, the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, in Uppsala, Sweden.

The topic of your research project is “Quantitative and qualitative impact assessment of sustainability with the aid of LCA and changed structures deemed to be crucial for biodiversity”. You’ve been working on it for some months now – how is your work progressing? What do you plan to do/cover over the next 6 months?

The topic of my research can be considered an innovation in the context of environmental monitoring. The goal of my research is to understand if it is possible, and how, to include biodiversity information in the description of the forest products (LCA, LCI).

During the last decades, after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the “Earth Summit” (Rio De Janeiro Conference, 1992), the global consciousness towards nature conservation increased. Many voluntary action plans and protocols were drawn up with the aim to provide the foundations for a sustainable use of the resources. Nowadays many countries are implementing their environmental guidelines and my research can be considered as a consequence of the lasts decade’s environmental policies.

What I would like to propose it’s a strategy to be used to describe the quality of the environment in the forests under management. The scope is to find the way to associate simple numbers to the biodiversity conservation in the sites where the raw materials are collected, numbers that will help the customers to choose the best products, the ones that at similar costs will show a less impact on the environment. The approach consists in finding biodiversity indicators, that would be site-specifics and that have to be chosen according to the available resources in the extraction site.

During these first two years, my research will proceed by analyzing data coming from an experimental site, located in the region of Dalarna, Sweden. The area is characterized by different types of forest management, where trees are retained (for conservation issues) according to the most common Swedish forest practices. The idea is to find the right way to describe the different systems, comparing the cost-efficiency of the forest managements with their levels of biodiversity richness. Two scientific papers will be hopefully published. The first one will be of interest to the forest management community and the second one will be oriented a bit more on biodiversity conservation.

Why did this exact topic interest you?

Since our Planet is almost a closed system, there is a big need of finding good strategies to help the environment so it won't collapse. If we will not change the actual global assessment, there would be not enough food and energy to guarantee a healthy future to the next generations. Actions are needed to protect the naturalistic heritage and the beautiful mosaic of biodiversity that populate the Earth from millions of years. My first life interest is to work for a better future, improving the naturalistic knowledge at global scale.

What would you like to do after the CASTLE project has finished?

My idea is to apply the experiences collected, the and new strategies on the everyday life, by working in the context of sustainable development. My impression is that a professional figure is needed: “experts able to connect decisional makers with industries, customers and local communities, with the aim to find a common way to communicate and to collaborate”. I will be glad to cover this task.

What are your thoughts on the CASTLE project so far, and the training courses in particular?

The CASTLE project is a good sharing platform that is giving to ESRs a “taste of real world”! Our discussions and our different points of view, that we usually defend powerfully, are the best way to improve ourselves, especially in regards to the observation of the phenomena. The courses represent a very efficient strategy to help us to communicate, increase our knowledge and keep in touch. There is no learning without observing and listening to the others.