EFI coordinates new agroforestry-based regenerative cotton project in Italy

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Agroforestry project

A new regenerative cotton project in collaboration with the Armani Group aims to pave a sustainable and innovative path for fashion in Italy.

The Apulia Regenerative Cotton Project will focus on the development of agroforestry-based cotton production. The new Circular Bioeconomy Alliance Living Lab is supported by the Armani Group and the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Fashion Task Force. The work is coordinated by the European Forest Institute (EFI) together with the Council for Agricultural Research and Economics of Italy (CREA) and PRETATERRA.

The objective of this pilot project is to develop an experimental agroforestry regenerative cotton site, among the first of its kind, to test and scientifically assess new ways to implement sustainable cotton production in Italy.  The aim is to demonstrate how to enhance landscape diversity, water saving and soil fertility as well as biodiversity-related ecosystem services while producing cotton with a low carbon footprint through the use of agroforestry systems. This innovative approach responds to increasing consumer demand for sustainable fashion globally, and at the same time, it ensures traceable and resilient value chains as well as the safety of resources. 

“I am very glad that the partnership with the SMI Fashion Taskforce, led by Federico Marchetti, is resulting in a pioneering project with Giorgio Armani to establish the first Agroforestry cotton experimental site in Europe. This project is crucial to generate new scientific knowledge to guide the transition towards nature-positive and climate-neutral cotton production” said Marc Palahí, Chair of the CBA.

Puglia (Apulia) in southern Italy has a mild climate which creates the perfect environment to grow a great diversity of agricultural crops and this project contributes to the reintroduction in the region of a long tradition of cotton farming, which dates back to the 12th century. After the initial cotton planting on one hectare of land which started being implemented last May, from 2024 cultivation will gradually expand to occupy a total farm area of five hectares. 

“The fashion and textile industries are among the ones with heavier impact on the planet’s resources and there is a growing demand for sustainable fashion and materials. EFI’s Biocities Facility is coordinating this project, promoting sustainable practices and nature based solutions from forest research applied to the urban environment, the peri-urban region and the urban living (fashion, architecture, food, transport etc), nudging for a shift towards innovative regenerative fashion - a circular biobased industry that uses newly created or restored regenerative landscapes as the basis for the bioeconomy value chains and practices that empower local communities and support their prosperity”, said Giuseppe Scarascia-Mugnozza, Head of EFI’s Biocities Facility in Rome, Italy.

Over five years, this farm site will be among the first field experiments in Europe testing agroforestry cotton with alternative tree species and regenerative practices. Regular scientific reports will assess the properties of the cotton yielded and will present the environmental impacts and production levels of the different plots established. 

More information: https://circularbioeconomyalliance.org/new-living-lab-in-collaboration-with-the-armani-group-announced/

Photo: Pasquale Campi (CREA)