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Sustainable use of woods - Study on the ecological value of managed and abandoned chestnut woods

Brief description

Based on the results of the study on biodiversity of bats in the chestnut woods of Altomalcantone, the intention is to increase knowledge about the ecological function of this significant environment with respect to its management. The study will focus on the ecology of the most abundant species, Leisler noctule bat (endangered species in Switzerland and Europe), and will give us the opportunity to assess management modes of chestnut woods.
Chestnut woods are interesting environments from the landscape and naturalistic profile. Today, many of them are abandoned, with negative effects on existing wildlife. Bats are amongst the most endangered mammals in Switzerland and Europe. Many of them find shelter in hollow trees. The objective of the study is to know what bats are present in the woods and to assess the effect of their being abandoned, in particular on Leisler noctule bat, an endangered species in Switzerland and Europe. For this purpose, 200 special nest-boxes have been hung in managed and abandoned woods, and are regularly checked. Results will provide information about wood management.

Apertura di un bat-box durante un controllo
© Nicola Zambelli

Apertura di un bat-box durante un controllo

Pipistrelli (Nottole di leisler) in un bat-box

Pipistrelli (Nottole di leisler) in un bat-box

Apertura di un bat-box durante un controllo
© Nicola Zambelli

Apertura di un bat-box durante un controllo


The first objective is to be able to provide scientific assessment of the ecologic value of chestnut woods. In the Malcantone region, but also in other parts of the canton and in Northern Italy, these types of woods not only represent a historic heritage of a past made of subsistence farming, but now represent a significant landscape element. The final objective of the project is therefore that of giving indications in order to be able to manage it so that it retains its high ecological value (biodiversity, protected areas) while being at the same time attractive in terms of landscape (heterogeneity of the region) and also of tourism (recreation, quality of life). The biologic profile would give us the opportunity to understand the ecological function carried out by the Altomalcantone woods with respect to the migration of the Leisler noctule bat between Southern Alps and Northern. The project therefore also has an international value.


The 200 nest-boxes hung in the chestnut woods are checked every fortnight. Considering that a large part of the bats that are found there have been previously ringed or microchipped, the single individuals can be recognized individually. The results of these frequent checks will be added to those resulting from capture campaigns and to the telemetry operations already performed. By means of the analysis of all these data, a quite complete picture will be defined of the habits of the Leisler noctule bat: at what times of the year it uses the woods, for what purpose (mating, reproduction, hunting, shelter, rest, …) and how often, how loyal are single individuals to specific facilities or places. Such knowledge will be disseminated through the publication of articles, the creation of documents (information panels, brochures), conferences and excursions.


The participants or the study are the Centro Protezione Chirotteri Ticino (Ticino Bat Protection Centre), the WSL Federal Research Institute, Southern Alps substation, Bellinzona, the department of "Conservation Biology" of the Institute for Zoology of the University of Bern, the department of "Environment-Health-Safety" of the Insubria University, Varese, the Canton forestry Section (which funded the first 6 years of the project) and the Malcantone Region.


2007 - 2008


DYNALP² Contribution (Euro) : 10,000
Own contributions, or from other funding institutions (Euro) : 10,000
Funding institutions: Association of the towns in the Malcantone Region: 4,000€; Canton Forestry Section: 3,500€; Municipality Alto Malcantone: 1,000€; WSL: 1,000€; CPT: 500€

Contact person

Agenzia regionale per lo sviluppo del Luganese
Marco  Marcozzi
Via Cantonale 10
CH- 6942  Savosa

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