• Biodiversity of Sacred Natural Sites in Italy
  • Zannini, Piero <1991>


  • BIO/03 Botanica ambientale e applicata


  • Here, I aimed to assess the value of Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) for biodiversity conservation, by asking: Which is the state of the art on SNS and biodiversity conservation and their overall effect on biodiversity? Do SNS in Italy complement the network of Protected Areas (PA)? Which is the effect of SNS and PA in Italy as drivers of forest cover changes? Do SNS in Italy conserve plant diversity? First, I carried out a systematic review on SNS and biodiversity conservation by means of descriptive statistics and vote counting. Then, I built a geo-referenced nation-wide survey of SNS and compared it with the national network of PA in terms of land uses and landscape characteristics, while investigating their spatial distributions. I also investigated the role of SNS and PA in respect with forest cover changes between 1936 and 2018. Finally, I evaluated the diversity of plant communities found at 30 SNS scattered across Italy by comparing them with related control areas. Most of research up-to-date has been dealing with plants, while largely focusing on asian and african SNS. Hence, the rest of this thesis aims to help close the aforementioned geographical gap. Among the main results, I found that SNS and PA hardly overlapped, being located in different landscape contexts and over different land uses, showing a potential complementarity. Moreover, SNS and PA were associated with a decrease in forest loss and an increase in forest gain, hinting both at a positive effect on forest conservation and an allarming abandonment of cultural landscapes. Finally, plant communities of SNS were highly diverse, but patterns varied across macrohabitats. SNS provided positive conservation outcomes likely due to traditional management, social taboos and unique natural features. Legal recocgnition and innovative policies are required to protect SNS and their biological specificity.


  • 2021-05-21


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Zannini, Piero (2021) Biodiversity of Sacred Natural Sites in Italy, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze della terra, della vita e dell'ambiente , 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9837.