The law of trees: Lucca, green excellence in Tuscany

“... the city encircled by tree-lined walls within which sleeps Guinigi’s lady.” Gabriele D’Annunzio

“How can you speak about Tuscany?

It is almost impossible, it would take an entire lifetime”.

Mario Tobino

Tuscany is a region of the soul, and Lucca is one of its most precious jewels. In this part of Italy, here is an innate vocation for beauty embodied through infinite examples, from music to art to nature that alone exalts this land famous the world over and that attains unique levels of excellence in the realm of biodiversity and green area indexes.

In Tuscany, spontaneous vegetation occupies rather vast spaces: forests in particular cover 654,000 hectares, 14% of the Italian forest heritage. Lucca ranks first in the classification compiled by Ecosistema Legambiente among the 102 Italian cities taken into consideration for utilizable urban greenery, with 53 square meters of green space available to each citizen.

Modena ranks second with 37 square meters.

Greenery - trees - are meant not only as ornament and oxygenation element, but are also considered for the importance of their contribution to the quality of life of each individual and to the very structure of the territory. A tree in the city? Here’s what it means:

• 30 kg of CO2 absorbed each year by a tree having a diameter of 25-30 cm, releasing oxygen for the life of 10 people

• 20 trees can annihilate the annual CO2 emissions of a car

• 70%-80% noise reduction obtainable with strips of vegetation placed along roads

• 25% of CO2 emissions derive from world deforestation

• over 15% increase in the economic value of buildings surrounded by greenery

• 10%-50% energy savings due to a reduction in air conditioning costs in the presence of urban greenery

• 190 bird species, 83 of which are of great conservationist interest, find refuge in Italian cities

• 42,000 Euro is the “global” value of an urban tree (mature 50 year-old tree) according to the American Forestry Association

(Data from the Lipu (Italian League for Bird Protection) Dossier “Gli Alberi nelle Aree Urbane” (“Trees in Urban Areas”) published on the Corriere della Sera newspaper in February 2010)

Tuscan biodiversity is among the richest in the Mediterranean Basin; from the Archipelago of the islands to the Apuan Alps, many are the environments to be preserved, and they can be summarized with these figures: 74 habitats of community interest, 914 species of flora and fauna having a high conservationist value on a total of 3250 species of flora, 84 species of mammals, 421 birds, 19 amphibians, 22 reptiles, over 60 species of fish and a very rich number of invertebrates.

Excellent for what concerns biodiversity are the Tuscan areas of the Archipelago and the Apuan Alps, the tracts of the Apennine crest from Lunigiana to the area of Pistoia, to the Parco della Maremma, to the Migliarino and San Rossore Massaciuccoli parks, the Laguna di Orbetello, Monte Argentario, Padule di Fucecchio, Monti della Calvana, Lago di Burano, Alpe della Luna mountain massif, the natural park of Sasso di Simone e Simoncello in the province of Arezzo, Val di Merse and Monte Labbro on the Amiata in the area of Grosseto.

And several excellences exist among these places: according to recent statistics, the Tuscan area 10 km2 wide richest in biodiversity is a surface in the province of Lucca astride of the province of Massa Carrara that includes Lago di Porta to the south and the slopes of the Apuan Mountains to the north. This area can be defined as Tuscan’s Arc, with 139 different species, around the town of Montignoso. *

Once the trees had eyes

Once the trees had eyes,

I can swear,

I know for sure

I could see when I was a tree,

I remember I was amazed at the birds’ odd wings

Passing in front of me,

But if the birds guessed

My eyes,

I do not remember that.

In vain I am looking for the trees’ eyes now,

I may not see them

As I am not a tree anymore,

Or they may have climbed down the roots

Into the ground,

Or maybe,

Who knows,

It was only an illusion

And the trees were blind from the very beginning...

But why then

Whenever I pass close to them

I can feel them

Watching me

In a familiar way,

Why, when rustling and blinking

From their thousands of eyelids,

I feel like shouting -

What have you seen?...

Ana Blandiana

from October, November, December, 1972

LAGO DI PORTA:  history of the area

The area of the lake that today extends for 159 hectares was an important military and transit zone. Closed between the hills and the coastal marshes, it became an almost mandatory passage for travelers who, here, were forced to pay duties and tolls. An iron gate built by Beltrame, nobleman, “there where the lake joined the mountain”, gave the area its name. In the Middle Ages, the location was traversed by Via Francigena; near the gate rise several buildings, among which the small church of S. Maria and the Albergo-Osteria di Porta that hosted travelers and pilgrims. Since the 14th century, the lake was famous for the optimal quality and abundance of fish. Adjacent lands were indicated with specific names based on the use that was made of them: the fields - prata - for cattle grazing; pagliareti (from the Italian word paglia, hay) as the location for haystacks, sedge, reeds and other marshy species; fields for cereal grains, olive and poplar trees, vines, mulberries and fruit trees.

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