Impacts on Agriculture, Forests and Ecosystem Services

The IAFES Division is organized around two poles located in Sassari and Viterbo with integrated and complementary competencies. The main goal of the research, consultancy and service activities of the IAFES Division is analyzing the interactions between climate change and terrestrial – natural and semi-natural – ecosystems and anthropic sectors. These include agriculture, forests, soil and urban systems, with particular attention to connected resources and generated services, like food and water security, climate regulation, and mitigation of hazards deriving from the combination of climate conditions and land management.

In particular, the following topics are addressed by the IAFES Division: i) hazards, exposure, vulnerability and risks related to wildfires, erosion, droughts, loss of biomass and productivity, phytopathologies (pests, diseases) and other disturbances in the context of modifications in climate trends, variability and related extreme events; ii) water, carbon and nitrogen cycle as well as greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, N2O) emissions modeling and/or monitoring, also based on life cycle assessment (LCA) approaches, and on land and water consumption under a footprint perspective; iii) the interactions and nexus among water-land/ecosystem-food-energy-climate, also in the context of land suitability, for more resource-efficient land management and sustainable development.

Through the IAFES Division activities, several tools are designed, developed, set-up and applied based on the integration among Earth Observations, spatial analysis (exploiting GIS environment), process-based modelling and statistical-mathematical approaches to assess, predict (on the short term) and project (on the long term) the dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems and of services they provide, including uncertainty consideration.

The results of the Division research activities and studies allow to consolidate the scientific knowledge and, acting as interface between science and policy, to formulate more robust recommendations about mitigation and adaptation options at local, national and international level.

IAFES Projects

  • SUSTAINadapt - Strumenti e approcci per declinare l’integrazione fra sostenibilità e adattamento

    SUSTAINadapt aims to develop innovative tools to support the implementation of sustainable…

  • IAFES Publications

    Biological N fixation activity in soybean can be estimated based on nodule dry weight and is increased by additional inoculation

    Martins J. T., Rasmussen J., Eriksen J., Arf O., De Notaris C., Moretti L. G.
    2022, Rizosphere, Volume 24, December 2022, 100589, DOI:, web page

    Accuracy, realism and general applicability of European forest models

    M., Mahnken, M., Cailleret, A.,Collalti A., Trotta C., C., Biondo, E., D’Andrea, D., Dalmonech, G., Marano, A., Mäkelä, F., Minunno, M., Peltoniemi, V., Trotsiuk, D., Nadal-Sala, S., Sabaté, P., Vallet, R., Aussenac, D. R., Cameron, F. J., Bohn, R., Grote, A. L. D., Augustynczik, R., Yousefpour, N., Huber, H., Bugmann, K., Merganicova, J., Merganic, P., Valent, P., Lasch-Born, F., Hartig, I. D., Vega del Valle, J., Volkholz, M., Gutsch, G., Matteucci, J., Krejza, A., Ibrom, H., Meesenburg, T., Rötzer, M., van der Maaten-Theunissen, E., van der Maaten, C.P.O., Reyer
    2022, Global Change Biology, DOI:, web page

    Merging Themes and Future Directions of Multi-Sector Nexus Research and Implementation

    Khan Z, Abraham E, Aggarwal S, Ahmad Khan M, Arguello R, Babbar-Sebens M, Bereslawski JL, Bielicki JM, Campana PE, Silva Carrazzone ME, Castanier H, Chang F-J, Collins P, Conchado A, Dagani KR, Daher B, Dekker SC, Delgado R, Diuana FA, Doelman J, Elshorbagy AA, Fan C, Gaudioso R, Gebrechorkos SH, Geli HME, Grubert E, Huang D, Huang T, Ilyas A, Ivakhnenko A, Jewitt GPW, Ferreira dos Santos MJ, Jones JL, Kellner E, Krueger EH, Kumar I, Lamontagne J, Lansu A, Lee S, Li R, Linares P, Marazza D, Mascari MP, McManamay RA, Meng M,Mereu S., Miralles-Wilhelm F, Mohtar R, Muhammad A, Opejin AK, Pande S, Parkinson S, Payet-Burin R, Ramdas M, Ramos EP, Ray S, Roberts P, Sampedro J, Sanders KT, Saray MH, Schmidt J, Shanafield M, Siddiqui S, Suriano M, Taniguchi M, Trabucco A., Tuninetti M, Vinca A, Weeser B, White DD, Wild TB, Yadav K, Yogeswaran N, Yokohata T and Yue Q
    2022, Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10, 918085, DOI:, web page

    Latest on Water, Food, and Land Use

    Palm oil’s implications on the Sustainable Development Goals

    The production of the most widely used and most criticised vegetable oil for its environmental impacts analysed in a study

    The global map of aridity

    Aridity conditions have now been mapped for the whole globe with a very high spatial resolution. This is a knowledge



    Monia Santini

    Division Manager

    Alessandra Settimi

    Viale Trieste 127
    01100 Viterbo, Italy

    +39 0761 309587


    Deputy Director

    Serena Marras

    Division Manager

    Matteo Funaro

    Via De Nicola, 9
    07100 Sassari, Italy

    +39 079 229377

    IAFES Models

  • IDI - Integrated Desertification Index

    The Integrated Desertification Index (IDI) was developed (Santini et al., 2010) to…

  • [email protected] - Land use change model

    The land use change model [email protected] was reformulated in Santini and Valentini…

  • Coexistence Model

    The coexistence model (Di Paola et al., 2012) is a simple quantitative…

  • SWAT

    SWAT is a hydrologic model, developed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)…


    3D-CMCC-FEM – Three Dimension Forest Ecosystem Model (Collalti et al., 2014; Collalti…

  • Research Units

    Research Unit Leaders: Maria Vincenza Chiriacò and Antonio Trabucco

    Assessment, through modeling and spatial analysis approaches, of impacts and biophysical and biogeochemical feedbacks between climate dynamics and terrestrial ecosystems, ranging from agriculture, natural vegetation, managed forests, urban areas, water resources, soil and their connected functions and services.

    Research Unit Leaders: Simone Mereu and Monia Santini

    Design, development and implementation of tools for proper water use in agriculture, water basin management and ecosystem conservation, under a nexus approach cutting across water-land-food-energy-climate for a resource-efficient management.

    Research Unit Leaders: Serena Marras and Dario Papale

    Monitoring trees structure, physiological variables and ecosystems’ carbon cycle and GHG fluxes to quantify their responses to climate change, and possible feedbacks, as well as to extremes and other stresses (e.g. fires, pests, diseases, droughts, heatwaves).

    Research Unit Leaders: Valentina Mereu and Lucia Perugini

    Supporting: i) the definition of policies for the valorization of ecosystem services in the agriculture and forestry sectors; ii) national GHG inventory in the land sector (AFOLU); iii) local and regional governments for climate risk assessment and the development of adaptation plans and risk mitigation options; iv) integrated water resource management, including water supply and sanitation, sustainable production and investment choices.

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