At Flormart City Forum, the conference “The City of Herbs”

Italy: Medicinal plants and the green revolution in smart cities

Aromatic and medicinal plants can play an essential role in the green revolution at the heart of tomorrow's smart cities. Always the fulcrum of the relationship between man and the plant world, they represent an extraordinary resource in the search for food sources, in the fight against diseases and to improve the quality of life.

This is the central theme of the conference “The City of Herbs” to take place during the Flormart City Forum on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, from 9:30 to 13:00, an appointment proposed by Erbaleforum, the Fiera di Padova project dedicated to the medicinal plants supply chain. The meeting aims to discuss the opportunities opened up by the interaction between new technologies, lifestyles and nature in urban areas, in the light of experiences in botanical gardens, evidence from scientific research and ideas and proposals from companies.

“The experiential and cultural relationships generated by medicinal plants in those who devote themselves to the care of green spaces and the quest for a new relationship with the plant world are of undoubted value,” explains Demetrio Benelli, scientific director of the Erboristeria Domani magazine and coordinator of Erbaleforum. “But that is not all. They also represent a precious resource to respond to the deep desire for nature that is one of the most heartfelt needs after the lockdown, especially among those living in a metropolis.”

Conference programme
The conference will present key experiences on this theme, bringing those researching or producing medicinal plants together with those responsible for managing public green spaces, urban planners, environmental and landscape designers and developers of green technology applications.

After the introduction by Alberto Manzo, Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF) official and coordinator of the group responsible for implementing the new regulations on the cultivation of medicinal products introduced in 2018, the conference will be opened by Barbara Baldan, director of the Padua Botanical Garden, the oldest in Italy and known throughout the world among both academics and laymen, not least for its rich collection of medicinal species.

The potential contribution of plant-derived biologically active substances to research into new drugs for emerging diseases in modern societies – obviously including Covid 19 - will be covered by Anna Rita Bilia, professor at the University of Florence and a leading international figure in pharmacological research on plant derivatives, past-president and member of the executive board of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA).

Aromatic plants have a particularly important role to play in creating a balanced ecosystem for the air and soil in cities. This theme is being studied at the University of Genoa and is the subject of the presentation by Mauro Mariotti, professor of Applied and Environmental Botany.

Many city-dwellers already grow medicinal plants individually on their own balcony, or in communal experiences such as urban gardens. But could there also be a productive dimension to city-grown medicinal plants in the context of the circular economy and with the involvement of the extraction industry? Opening the debate on this hypothesis will be Andrea Primavera, consultant agronomist and president of the Italian Federation of Medicinal Plant Producers.

Companies implementing sustainable production projects focussing on these themes have been invited to take part in the conference and their experiences will be the subject of a debate, followed by presentation of the CREA/MIPAAF Verdecittà project by Gianluca Burghi, CREA research manager and project coordinator, bringing the conference to an end.

The conference will take place both face-to-face (following registration on the portal) and in live streaming.

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