The Man Behind The Trees

by Matt Davies March 9th 2018
Nicola is the Forestry officer at Transumância e Natureza - Associação - ATN, and our expert on the ground for our Wildfire Restoration project and our rewilding Western Iberia project. Here is a brief interview with him so you can get to know the man behind the trees!

Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town called Sasso Marconi (known to have been the birthplace of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio), near Bologna, in Italy. However, I was born in the Alps, in the region of Piemonte, the area of my grandparents.

What did you study?

I graduated in Sciences of the territory and agro-forest environment (Bachelor in Agronomy), and my Master's studies was Forest Engineering.

How long have you worked at ATN?

I started working for ATN in November 2016.

What is a typical day/week at ATN?

My typical week at ATN is two/three days in the office to plan the activities on the field, solve bureaucratic stuff, maintain contact with partners and/or writing new applications. The following two/three days are spent on the field with the field team to supervise and coordinate the forestry interventions. Normally I have more field work during the winter time and more office work to do in the summer.
But it's also important to know that in this kind of job a routine hardly exists, contingencies and changes in the plan are always around the corner. To be flexible and dynamic is mandatory.

What tasks do you enjoy most?

I enjoy coordinating and supervising the field's work, it gives you a real sense of satisfaction because at the end of every day you see the concrete results of your work, even if it's very demanding and full of huge responsibilities, like the safety of your employees. I also like a lot to plan the activities of the projects.

Since you have worked at ATN, what changes have you seen to the plantation areas?

To plant trees in Portugal there are several steps: first of all the trees must resist the transplant, then they have to sprout in the spring according to the climate conditions and then they must survive the summer drought. Until now I've seen a good success in the transplantation (despite adverse conditions of prolonged drought almost until February) and the first signals of the spring sprouting.

It has been also amazing to see a completely burnt area, all black and death like, starting to be re-born. At the beginning the job it all seemed too huge, but once you start and when you see the first evidences of your work you gain trust and hope and nothing will stop you.

What is your favourite animal in the conservation area, and why?

Talking about in ATN, they are probably the Maronesas cows, because they are the perfect example of an animal considered domestic that instead managed to become completely wild. They are fantastic animals that I respect deeply for their ability to live in difficult environments in complete autonomy, performing fundamental functions in a natural ecosystem, such as the reduction of fuel through grazing, to reduce the risk of fires and to maintain open spaces, which is also important for smaller animals searching for food.
In general I also really like bears and the sturgeons, because they both represent in their own habitat the need of the animals to have large spaces without human interferences.

Thank you Nicola for your great work and for sitting down with us for this interview!