The decree of 28 October 2021, published in the Official Journal no. 286 of 1 December 2021 with the subject “Provisions for the definition of the minimum national criteria inherent to the purposes, types and technical construction characteristics of the forest roads and silvo-pastoral, of the works connected to the management of the woods and the hydraulic-forest arrangement “, concretizes the contents of art. 9 paragraph 2 of the Consolidated Law on forests and forestry chains (Tuff) of 2018, Legislative Decree n. 34/2018, already in force for years. So actually nothing changes on the theme of the use of forest roads, except that some concepts are expressed in black and white that previously were partly left to free interpretation:
– art. 2 paragraph 2, “the sections of the permanent and temporary forestry and forestry-pastoral viability they do not interrupt the continuity of the forest and are assimilated to the definition of forest “;
– art. 2 paragraph 3, “Regardless of the title of ownership, the forest and forestry-pastoral viability and related works are prohibited for ordinary transit and are not subject to the provisions deriving from articles 1 and 2 of the legislative decree 30 April 1992, n. 285 (Highway Code, at);
– art. 2 paragraph 4, “The forestry and silvo-pastoral viability and related works are consistent with the three key elements of forest management sustainable: ecology, economy and social reality “.
From the above, it can be deduced that the agro-forestry-pastoral road system is assimilated to the forest and is excluded by the rules related to the highway code, it is forbidden to ordinary traffic and must be managed in a coherent and sustainable way according to the criteria of economy, ecology and social reality.
Particularly vehement the reaction of the world of two wheels, the most directly interested in the fruition of paths of all kinds; the Italian Motorcycle Federation has expressed itself speaking of a “norm myopic and with possible profiles of unconstitutionality ”, underlining the serious economic repercussions for a sector“ which generates a total value of over 7 billion euros in Italy and employs more than 100,000 workers in its supply chain ”.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies was forced to issue a press release in which, underlining the good reasons for the contents of the Decree, reminds that the primary competence in this matter lies with Regions (who unanimously approved the decree) as well as for the prevention of hydrogeological instability and for compliance with the provisions of the hydrogeological constraint. Therefore, it is up to the Regions to evaluate the effects of pedestrian use, cycle tourism or motorized vehicles other than forestry on the paths, whose effects on unpaved surfaces have impacts very different among them, evaluating them with the utmost attention in relation to the individual territorial realities.
The Lombardy Region specified that “the Lombard law provides that transit on agro-forestry-pastoral roads is governed by municipal regulations. The transit of motorized vehicles is prohibited on these infrastructures, with the exception of service vehicles and those authorized according to municipal regulations. And instead allowed the transit of non-motorized vehicles, such as bicycles and sleds “.
The problem therefore lies in the lack of uniformity of regional legislation, in the authorizations at the local level and in the reasons linked to them. For those like us who have been fighting for years against indiscriminate motorization in mountain areas, it is a question of reiterating once again that motorized vehicles themselves are not opposed, but the use made of it: using the paths and forest roads for the sole purpose of entertainment clashes with the cardinal principles of the legislation (and in our opinion also of common sense). It is necessary to identify special routes for off-roaders in areas of low environmental value by seriously regulating the use of forest roads and carrying out the necessary checks for compliance with the rules.
Until it is understood that the environment also has a value (not only ecology but also economy, sociability, culture, health) and will focus only on “few, cursed and immediate” money, this short-term vision will not allow us to plan for the future. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, nothing will change, leaving the problems to those who come after us. Is that what we want?