iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Assessing escapes from short rotation plantations of the invasive tree species Robinia pseudoacacia L. in Mediterranean ecosystems: a study in central Italy

Roberto Crosti (1-2)   , Emiliano Agrillo (3), Lorenzo Ciccarese (4), Riccardo Guarino (5), Pierluigi Paris (6), Anna Testi (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 5, Pages 822-828 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1526-009
Published: May 25, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) is a fast growing tree species native to temperate North America, and widely diffused and naturalized in Europe. It is one of the candidate species for establishing bioenergy plantations on marginal lands in temperate and sub-Mediterranean regions. This potential is in contrast to its well-known invasive habit, leading to a potential damage to plant biodiversity in many European countries. Advise against black locust plantation in regions where it is already invasive has been issued by several international reports, as well as the adoption of mitigation measures (e.g., “containment” buffer zones) to prevent the spread of the species into natural and semi-natural habitats. In the Mediterranean basin, however, no studies have been carried out aimed at quantifying the escape rate of black locust saplings from plantation stands and its recruitment into natural habitats, together with the effectiveness of a buffer zone in reducing the spread. In this study we investigated the spread of black locust along 35 transects surrounding three 20-year- old plantations and including three different land cover types: abandoned arable land, semi-natural woodland and a buffer zone (orchards) with a low degree of farming input. In addition, the effect of soil disturbance on seed propagation was investigated. Our results demonstrate that the density of black locust regeneration is strongly affected by the land cover, abandoned agricultural land being the most prone to black locust colonization. Contrastingly, the spread was minimal in the buffer zone and negligible in semi-natural woodland. During the investigated year, seed generative propagation was also negligible. The semi-natural woodland seems to resist well to black locust invasion, though further observations are needed to assess the consequences of stand harvesting disturbance as well, according to local standard forest management. Buffer zones seem to be very effective in controlling black locust invasion. Best management practices, with active farming inputs, are also discussed.


False Acacia, Mediterranean Region, Risk Assessment, Containment, EU Regulation, Invasive Species

Authors’ address

Roberto Crosti
ISPRA-IV Dipartimento, STS Palermo (Italy)
Roberto Crosti
IUCN-CEM- Ecosystems and Invasive Species (Italy)
Emiliano Agrillo
Anna Testi
Dip. Biologia Ambientale, La Sapienza Università degli Studi di Roma (Italy)
Lorenzo Ciccarese
ISPRA, Dipartimento Difesa della Natura; Roma (Italy)
Riccardo Guarino
Dip. STEBICEF, Università degli Studi di Palermo (Italy)
Pierluigi Paris
CNR-IBAF Porano (Italy)

Corresponding author

Roberto Crosti


Crosti R, Agrillo E, Ciccarese L, Guarino R, Paris P, Testi A (2016). Assessing escapes from short rotation plantations of the invasive tree species Robinia pseudoacacia L. in Mediterranean ecosystems: a study in central Italy. iForest 9: 822-828. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1526-009

Academic Editor

Andrea Cutini

Paper history

Received: Dec 11, 2014
Accepted: Jan 28, 2016

First online: May 25, 2016
Publication Date: Oct 13, 2016
Publication Time: 3.93 months

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