Pnrr, 300 million euros for 6 million trees. But Italy risks losing them

The Court of Auditors has sounded the alarm: in many of the 14 metropolitan cities concerned, no progress has been made beyond the planning phase. Even in Milan – where there is a problem of space and a change to the tender is being requested – no project has been presented. And as regards the over one and a half million trees that had to be planted by 31 December 2022, it remains to be understood whether the goal has been achieved: at the center is the question of the equation between seeds and real plants

One of the objectives set by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is to plant 6.6 million trees by the end of 2024 in 14 Italian metropolitan cities exposed to environmental and air pollution problems, including Milan, Rome, Turin, Genoa, Bari and Messina. A goal for which a loan of 330 million euros has been established, which however Italy could see vanish. The alarm comes from the Court of Auditors, and the problems at the basis of this ambitious project are various, starting from that of the equation between seeds and real plants.

Few cities have progressed beyond the planning stage

The Court of Auditors recalled that in addition to the 6.6 million trees to be planted by 2024, 1,650,000 were to be planted by 31 December 2022. And the critical issues found concern both projects already financed with national resources and then merged into the Pnrr (the “existing projects”) – for which delays have been found in planting the trees, in addition to the ineffectiveness of their planting, with plants found, in some cases, already dry – and the so-called “new” projects, for which planting has just started. The checks carried out by the territorial commands of the Carabinieri revealed that only some metropolitan cities have gone beyond the planning phase.

The question of seeds

Furthermore, the Court of Auditors notes, almost all of the cities have planted simple seeds in nurseries, instead of placing already grown plants. The accounting magistrates, doubting the effective equivalence between the cultivation of seeds and the planting of already mature trees, have invited – for the purposes of the correct implementation of the project – the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security to acquire a certain pronouncement on the matter from the Commission and to supervise both the correct and effective execution of the works in each city concerned, and the timely implementation of the subsequent phases of the Plan, to avoid delays capable of jeopardizing the achievement of the objective linked to 6,600,000 trees to be planted by 31 December 2024. Basically, it is not yet certain that the goal set for the end of 2022 has actually been achieved, because it is not yet clear whether the seeds planted are comparable to real plants.

Dried or never planted plants

In other cases, it reports Political Scoreboard, during the Carabinieri checks the trees planted were found already dry. In Turin, for example, in the context of some projects the number of “dead plants” was equal to “100 per cent”. While in Genoa the company that won the tender declared that it had planted almost a thousand plants, which however does not seem to be true.

In Milan space problems and no plans

Another case is that of Milan where, he reports The Corriere della Sera, not only has no project been launched, but none have been presented at all. Here the problem is space: in the city there are no areas available that are large enough to give life to new forests. In fact, Europe has foreseen that the areas are at least 3 hectares, so that they have a real impact on the environment. And so the capital of Milan, after the checks by the Carabinieri, requested a modification to the announcement: “From what is reported by both the Metropolitan City and the Municipality of Milan, requests have been made to the ministry for a modification of the announcement to make it effectively usable and avoid that, also for the other years, it is not possible to approve adequate projects”.