[en] Saving the countryside

This article is our translation of this text. More infos and updates in Italian can be found here.

The Italian Movements’ Forum for the Land and Landscape (Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per la Terra e il Paessaggio, or FIMTP) was officially established 29 October 2011 at Cassinetta di Lugagnano, Milan. However, in spite of its recent beginnings, the forum has already elaborated its first national campaign, which took place, in all of Italy, on Monday 27 February 2012: “Salviamo il Paesaggio, Difendiamo i Territori” (Let’s save the Landscape, Defending the territories). Over sixty local committees were ready and at work, and many others were starting to come together. Their goal? To ask Italy’s 8,101 mayors to adopt a new and genuine planning method.

The FIMTP is an aggregation of associations and citizens from all over Italy, modelled on the Italian Movements’ Forum for Water, (Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua, or FIMA), which respects the distinctiveness of each adhering subject while at the same time working toward a single objective: to save Italian landscapes and territories from deregulation and concrete jungles. Currently, the Forum counts on the support of over 10,000 individuals and 589 organisations (62 national associations and 511 local associations and committees). The latter includes all the principal Italian entities operating in the field of conservation, be it of territories, the environment, landscapes, or agricultural soils (For an updated list of supporters, see here).

The Forum was formed because over the last thirty years we have seen the “cementification” of almost one fifth of Italy. Because, in our country, there are 8-10 million empty homes, and yet we continue to construct more. Because our fertile soils are a precious resource, and not a renewable one. And yet we are on our way to losing them for good.

The consumption of soil is continuously increasing. It is estimated that, currently, the total area of urbanisation is almost 2.5 million hectares (more than 100,000 hectares per year). Unfortunately, however, we cannot place our trust in the certified data, for it is a problem that remains to be monitored properly and considered sufficiently high priority by the Institution.

Fertile soil and the integrity of the landscape are the principal guarantees for the future of our country, our tourism, our agriculture and traditional products; for the future health of the places in which we live, and the natural biodiversity to be found in these. History teaches us that these are the foundations of every local culture, that which unites Italians in their diversity, and which makes unifies us as a single people. Landscapes and fertile soils are our richest economic resources. It is absurd to let them go to waste like this.

The national forum was born, therefore, as a response to an urgent question: is it truly essential for us to continue to add cement and asphalt to our cities and towns? Is this what we really need? Or, do we maybe need to measure with certainty the actual state of availability of our building patrimony?

Hence our first national campaign was born: “Salviamo il Paessaggio, Difendiamo i Territori”. A proposal for a minute census in every Italian municipality, in order to shed light on how many homes and productive buildings have already been built, but are unused, empty, vacant.

A group of over 160 people (among which local administrators, architects, town planners, professionals in the field) came up with a census form (available here).

to be delivered to all Italian mayors starting 27 February 2012. The latter are being asked to fill it out within six months. It is a detailed proposal for a planning method, which would be immediately adopted in order to avoid that which has unfortunately been happening so far, that is, that urban plans have been executed without proper consideration of the actual needs of the local communities, and foresee the further consumption of soil in spite of the fact that there is a wide availability of already existing construction.

Urban planning at “zero-growth” ought not to scare us, if we know precisely how much (in terms of numbers and area) this existing but unused construction patrimony comes to. And the choices of many municipalities reflect this: Cassinetta di Lugagnano (MI), Solza (BG), Camigliano (CE), Ronco Briantino (MI), Ozzero (MI), Pregnana Milanese (MI) have already come up with zero-growth urban plans, thanks to the involvement of their citizens and the parallel analysis on how to remedy the consequent “loss” of urbanisation expenses for new contruction.

There are already more than 60 local “Salviamo il Paesaggio” committees set up to make possible the compilation of municipal censuses, and to spread specific information to the Italian citizen body. Now it is up to the mayors, the municipal councils, the technicians, to deliver the exact “measurements” of this territorial map. The national Forum is preparing itself, in the meantime, to elaborate a possible legal proposal by popular initiative to ensure that the set out planning method becomes the criteria to adopt. In every municipality. In all of Italy.

About Struggles in Italy

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One Response to [en] Saving the countryside

  1. Pingback: [en] World Earth Day – marches in Italy | Struggles in Italy

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