Invasive plants are threatening Rome’s ancient monuments.

Rome has been invaded many times in its long history (such as the Gauls, Vandals, and Normans leading the most prominent raids on the Eternal City). that is in the process Brought by invasive species that pose a threat to some of the ancient city

uncle A study published last year in biological invasion Track the growth of invasive plants in the 26 ancient sites of Rome. The authors compared 1950’s plant coverage with follow-up studies in 1990, 1995, 2005 and 2019. They found that over time, Invasive species have gradually Bringing out the city’s native plant life apart from that The study authors also warn that invasive plants pose a growing challenge for the preservation of ancient Rome. “This increase is undoubtedly an alarming threat to the conservation of monuments and possibly the preservation of urban biodiversity,” the authors state.

Invasive plants are known to pose a global threat. It affects biodiversity and the global economy alike. These invaders are expected to continue to damage Europe’s economy. worth 12 billion euros ($13.3 billion) per year due to impacts on health, crops and damage to infrastructure.

In Rome, those species creep into ancient sites, mostly as ornamental plants kept in gardens or planted throughout the city. One invasion, tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is of particular concern. According to the study, it is the only non-native species. The species “acknowledged a very significant negative impact” on historical sites due to the destructive potential of its roots. By the 1950s, the species appeared in just five historical sites across Rome. Today it happens in 22 sites reviewed by the author.

growing concern

originated in China, a. very high first arrived in Europe through Paris in the 18th centuryled by an enterprising missionary more than two hundred years later has spread to every continent except Antarctica due to the potential for destruction The European Union has added Enter the list of invasive species. of concern

The invasive “tree of heaven” roots can inflict serious damage by exploiting cracks in the walls of structures Grigorii Pisotsckii/Shutterstock.

“Ailanthus is one of the most problematic species,” said Carlo Ricotta, a landscape ecologist at the University of Sapienza in Rome and one of the study’s authors, “because it has a whole biological strategy that allows them to inflict damage. ”

Plants can propagate quickly: one study It has been found that mature plants can release more than a million seeds per year. also install “A healthy and strong root system,” study author Anna Maria Palermo, an ecologist at the University of Calabria. The impact of plant life on Santa Maria della PietàThis is an old building in southern Italy that dates back to the 13th century.

a. very high It can take advantage of cracks in walls and, in some cases, undermine structural stability and even damage sewers. when they spread in the wind “They were able to reach higher sections of the monuments where management strategies were more difficult,” Ricotta added.

2020 studies that examined a. very high Impact on Third Century Rome orelian wallIt has been found that the roots of plants cause damage that is not always visible to the naked eye. a. very high Maybe it’s just the tip of the iceberg. because its root apparatus can reach large underground dimensions,” the study authors said.

Although it’s not the only invasive plant that poses a risk to Rome’s ancient monuments. at her site Palermo noted Invasive damage is similar to that of native species. Other studies have found damage caused by native plants to historic sites such as the Jewish cemetery below. Villa Torloniaor Etruscan Cemeterywhich is located outside of Rome and is listed a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

heal the past

However, in light of this continuous invasion It won’t cause the ancient monument to collapse to the ground anytime soon. “The risk doesn’t mean it will decline in the next ten days,” Ricotta said. to major damage

It is unlikely that major “signs” of Rome, such as the iconic Colosseum or the Roman Forum, will be severely affected, Ricotta said. Other lesser-known attractions, such as the Pons Aemilius stone bridge, are unlikely. The oldest of Rome above the Tiber has received much less attention and management over the long term without adequate control. Plant varieties can increase the degradation of such monuments. undermine conservation efforts for them.

Dealing with problems is complicated. Author biological invasion study notes Plant life can be In some cases it helps to preserve ancient structures. Resist the destruction of the elements While historical sites are often home to biodiversity. Adds an ancient charm The same Etruscan cemetery damaged by tree roots, for example, was also found to be home to rare plants such as the tongue orchid (Serapian).

For problematic breeds such as a. very highHowever, management is needed to continue growing. “You have to get rid of these plants more or less every year,” Ricotta said. Palermo added that Local governments and administrative agencies Especially in small villages such as Squillace, where Santa Maria della Pietà is located, keep an eye out for the presence of invasive creatures such as lemurs. A. Very high. “Cutting down trees periodically Easier than rooting because it will damage the entire structure.”

Leave a Comment