After graduating in Veterinary Medicine in my home country at the University of Pisa, Italy, I decided to pursue a career in sustainable rural development. I have worked in developing countries and I am a keen traveller, valuing cultural knowledge in various rural settings.
My main interests are the environmental impact of livestock farming and the social barriers to the development of sustainable rural livelihoods. My involvement in community engagement projects in Latin America and the United Kingdom highlighted the importance of facilitating knowledge exchange and participatory activities to build social and cultural capital, in order to address the issues of climate change and sustainable agroecological systems.
During my PhD, based at the Royal Agricultural University (England), I explored the issues related with pastoral livestock farming in the South West and West Midlands, with a specific focus on small-scale farmers’ engagement on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission mitigation. I have collaborated with members of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association and other livestock farmers, and I designed the Rapid Farm Practices Assessment (RFPA) tool to provide practical advice to farmers on how to improve their farm management in order to mitigate GHG emissions. At the same time, this project also aimed at creating opportunities for farmers to work as co-researchers by engaging in knowledge exchange activities, receiving feedback from farmers on the tool on, for instance, what could be improved or what was missing. Their views and comments were extremely important and valuable for the development of the project.
What I am up to at the moment
I’m currently working as researcher / assistant professor at the Centre of Plant Sciences of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. This is a specialist university for advanced studies. I work within the Group of Agroecology and my role includes research activities, project coordination, and teaching as well.
Before this, for just short of 8 years I have worked at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) within the Research Institute for Sustainability, Equity and Resilience (ISER) at Coventry University, in the United Kingdom. I worked there as an assistant professor in agroecological livestock systems until December 2022.
My research interests include pastoralism, organic farming, farmer engagement, knowledge generation and dissemination.
Pastoral, small-scale and family farming are vital in many areas across the world, especially in developing countries, and I believe that we, as a society, need to reconnect with the people who commit their lives to produce healthy, sustainable food adopting agroecological farming principles. We need to value their knowledge by engaging in collaborative projects in order to sustain rural livelihoods and promote agroecological farming practices that could help address the challenges we are facing in relation to climate change and our impact on the environment.
I’m also a contributing author for the Working Group II Contribution to the UN IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, 2022; providing expertise in agroecology, agroforestry, and feasibility and risk assessment of adaptation strategies, with a focus on European contexts (Chapter 13).