Museo Galileo and the Library of Technological Sciences of the University of Florence are publishing a first version of the collection of over 500 photographs of the Royal Forestry Corps, housed at the Faculty of Agriculture, both on the Museo Galileo Digital Library and on Chartae, the University's archival portal. The photographs of the Royal Forestry Corps are part of a larger collection, consisting of hundreds of positives, glass plates and stereoscopes, whose recovery has been started. The work of digitising and cataloguing the collection will continue with a new publication by the end of the year.
The collection of the Royal Forestry Corps consists of large-format silver bromide gelatines mounted on cardboard, and can be dated between the end of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. It is an important testimony to the activities carried out by Italian forestry institutions to combat hydrogeological instability caused by deforestation, at a crucial time in the transformation and recovery of the mountain landscape in Italy.
The images document in particular the hydraulic systems and reforestation carried out by the Royal Forestry Corps, the institution that was responsible for protecting natural areas, especially in the mountains. They represent an important example of the use of photography in the technical-scientific field at an early date. The application of photography to silviculture was promoted and experimented by the Regio Istituto Forestale di Vallombrosa, which trained all the forest rangers of the newly-born Kingdom of Italy.
Supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, the photographs of the Royal Forestry Corps were used to promote the activities of the Corps and to inform about issues related to the protection of mountains and forests. They were also used as illustrations in some publications of the Italian Touring Club.