Degree course: 
Corso di Second cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
Academyc year when helding the course: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours)

Students should be familiar with basic concepts of Physical Geography, Plant Ecology and Biogeography

Final Examination: 

Knowledge and skills acquired by students will be verified at the end of the course by means of an oral speech of a computer-based presentation on a topic arranged with the teacher and will consist in the discussion of few articles of most recent scientific literature (from 2 to 5).
The evaluation will be expressed in thirtyths and will take into account the scientific mastering and the critical ability about the topic discussed (50%), the organization and the skills in presenting the topic (10%), the ability to apply the concepts learned during the course to the specific topic (40%).

Voto Finale

The course aims to introduce sustainable use of plant resources, both in terms of primary production and biomass as well as biodiversity, in the frame of the current global change scenario and of the increasing demand for natural resources. An introductory part concerns the world distribution of vegetation and the assessment of Earth bio-capacity. The main sources of anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial ecosystems are then presented together with the main fields of application and use of plants, with particular emphasis on native flora. Main ecological principles for managing plant communities are addressed in order to conservation of primary production, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Expected learning outcomes concern the ability to understand and evaluate:
-major global challenges in conservation of planetary plant resources
-sustainability criteria in the use of plant resources
-fields of application of native flora and natural plant communities
-main services offered by ecosystems

Climates, bio-climates and world distribution of vegetation. Arctic and boreal biomes; temperate biomes; tropical and equatorial biomes; vegetation of mountain ridges. (10 hours)
Methods for measuring biomass and primary production. Resident biomass and primary production in different biomes. (4 hours)
Anthropo-biomes, Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production, bio-capacity and ecological footprint. Ecosystem Services and Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (6 hours)
Role of vegetation in greenhouse gas control. Wild fires: causes, plant adaptations, ecological consequences and prevention by mean of vegetation management. Production and use of biomass as fuels. (6 hours)
Primary production-biodiversity relationship: Intermediate disturbance hypothesis and Species-energy hypothesis. Nitrogen deposition, eutrophication and effects on vegetation and plant biodiversity. (4 hours)
Origin and domestication of cultivated plants. Use and cultivation of native plants as crops, gardening and environmental restoration. Alien plants, biological invasions, environmental and economic damage resulting, black lists. (6 hours)
Bioengineering techniques for erosion control and habitat restoration, phytoremediation techniques. (6 hours)
Atmospheric pollution and use of plants as biomonitors. (4 hours)
Remote sensing and vegetation mapping. (2 hours)

Presentations of the lessons are available to students in pdf format on the e-learning platform of the course. Scientific articles, technical reports and sites of international organizations are also provided on the platform (FAO Forests Resource Assessment, ICP Forests, Global Biodiversity Outlook, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, IPCC, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Global Footprint Network, International Food Policy Research Institute).
The following texts are also recommended:
Archibold O.W. (1995) Ecology of World Vegetation. Chapman & Hall
Diamond J. (1998) Armi, acciaio e malattie. Einaudi
Diamond J. (2005) Collasso. Come le società scelgono di morire o vivere. Feltrinelli
Florineth F. (2007) Le piante al posto del cemento. Manuale di Ingegneria Naturalistica e Verde Tecnico. Il Verde Editoriale, Milano
Lieth H., Whittaker R.H. (Eds.) (1975) Primary Productivity of the Biosphere. Springer-Verlag
Lorenzini G., Nali C. (2005) Le piante e l’inquinamento dell’aria. Springer-Verlag, Italia
Pedrotti F. (ed.) (2012) Plant and vegetation mapping. Springer Science & Business Media
Walter H. (1984) Vegetation of the Earth and ecological systems of the geo-biosphere. Springer-Verlag

The course objectives will be achieved through classroom lessons for 48 hours in total. During lectures teacher will constantly refer to updated scientific literature and reports edited by international organizations.
At students request, at the start of each lesson the teacher will provide clarifications and insights concerning topics discussed in previous lessons. It will be also possible to ask for clarification at any time during lessons.

Teacher is always available for urgent matters at the e-mail address Using the same e-mail address is also possible to arrange meetings in the teacher's office placed by DiSTA via J.H. Dunant, 3 in Varese (third floor).