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The study area consists of two Italian regions (Lazio and Abruzzo) located in Central Italy between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts and covers about 28.000 km2. The area is characterised by strong climatic, topographical and geological variability. The coastal areas are characterised by a Mediterranean climate, while the inner part presents a temperate climate, with an Alpine-type climate only in the highest peaks (Gran Sasso mountain, 2912 m a.s.l.).
Forests currently occupy an area of about 6.720 km2. Starting from the end of the Second World War, the forested areas have increased because of the abandonment of traditional selvicultural activities, especially in the Apennine mountains. Evergreen forests of Quercus ilex and Q. suber (the latter only along the western Tyrrhenian side) potentially occupy the low-land areas along the coasts, while the inner hills are characterised by deciduous forest (Q. cerris and Q. pubescens). The sub-mountain and mountain belts are respectively dominated by Ostrya carpinifolia and Fagus sylvatica woods.