Ruderalization in a Roman Park as a Result of Changing Management
by P.M. Bianco., G. Fanelli, P. Tescarollo, and S. Pignatti
Dip. Di Biologia Vegetale-Orto Botanico, Universitá degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza," Largo Cristina di Suezia, 24 00165, Rome, Italy
Published online April 1, 2003
Rome has one of the best open-space systems in Europe, and the Parco Urbano del Pineto is among its crown jewels. The 250-hectare park is among the city's last extensive undeveloped areas and has one of the most diverse floras in Rome. Presented here are the results of comparisons of studies conducted over a ten-year period of the vegetation in one-hectare quadrates situated in the park. We compared these studies in order to examine changes caused by a shift in land management. Once managed primarily as a sheep pasture, the park is now a nature reserve and used for recreation and tourism. This change has subjected the land to less pressure from the animals and increasing pressure from humans. The comparison of the vegetation over time shows that natural succession has resumed, and reforestation is occurring in many areas. However, an analysis of Ellenberg's indicator values shows a clear increase in the number of ruderal species from the margins toward the center of the park. Neither trend bodes well for the future: Both reforestation and ruderalization will likely lead to a loss of biodiversity in the years ahead as important habitats and species niches are lost.