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With this volume, the publication of ‘Plant Sociology’ begins, as a sequel of ‘Phytosociology Review’, the name of which has been changed to highlight the editorial choice, focusing both on making the journal more international and on the ecological value of Phytosociology. Indeed, Plant Sociology is the name that Josias Braun-Blanquet used to publish the first English edition of his treatise ‘Pflanzensoziologie’, in 1932. With this book, Braun-Blanquet showed the concept of Phytosociology, an ecological science that has undergone wide evolution in its more than 100 years of history, to be transformed within a complex idea on the basis of the development that was well expected by the same Braun-Blanquet (Blasi, Biondi & Izco; Biondi, 2011; Géhu, 2011; Pott, 2011).

Phytosociologists can be proud of the important course that their science has taken, and they must continue to reach more new targets, and to improve their methods and make them more adaptable to society’s needs. In this way, all over Europe, this has been achieved by contributions that have derived from the practical implementation of the Habitat Directive (92/43 CEE).

Plant Sociology is the official journal of the Italian Society of Phytosociology (S.I.Fs.), which was established on 7 March, 1964, in the Botanical Institute of the ‘La Sapienza’ University of Rome (Pirola, 1990). Over the years, the Society modified its name, and in 2006 it became Italian Society of Vegetation Science Onlus (SISV), while adapting its priority targets to those of the times (http://www.scienzadellavegetazione.it/).

The past Presidents of the Italian Society of Phytosociology (S.I.Fs.) are:

Valerio Giacomini1964 – 1970
Augusto Pirola1971 – 1976
Salvatore Gentile1977 – 1982
Giovanni Giorgio Lorenzoni1983 – 1988
Carlo Ferrari1989 – 1991
Edoardo Biondi1992 – 1997
Giovanni Sburlino1998 – 2004
Carlo Blasi2005.

The President of the Italian Society of Vegetation Science ONLUS (SISV) is: Carlo Blasi, from 2006

Over this period, the official journal of the Society has changed its name too. It was born as the ‘Italian Society of Phytosociology Newsletter’, then changed its name to ‘Fitosociologia’ with volume 25, in 1995, under the then Editor Carlo Ferrari. With this volume, the appearance of the journal was maintained until volume 48. Starting from volume 26, Edoardo Biondi was Editor-in-Chief, which he undertook with the charge of President of the Italian Society of Phytosociology. At the end of this charge, Edoardo Biondi was confirmed as Editor-in-Chief without interruption by the following Presidents of the Society. In 2011, he was commissioned by the President, Carlo Blasi, to update the journal title and organization, thus arriving at the form it which it appears in this first number of Plant Sociology

From volumes 25 to 48, Fitosociologia followed a long series of 16 years that highlighted the progress in Phytosociology in Italy, with improved organization of the Society and a reorganization of its activities. In these years, there were some significant volumes, such as volume 26, which was dedicated to the Proceedings of the Symposium ‘Appennine Summit Vegetation. Typology, Ecology and Phytogeography’, organized by C. Ferrari in Castelnovo nè Monti (June 24-27, 1992), and another volume, as number 32, with the Proceedings of the Symposium ‘Mediterranean Shrubby Vegetation: Synecology, Syndynamics and Syntaxonomy’, organized by G. Caneva in Potenza and Maratea (October 17-20, 1994). Then the ‘monographic’ series began, with supplements to volumes of the journal that are now published regularly every year, at the end of June and at the end of the year. As part of these supplements, there is the need to mention a few in particular: the Italian phytosociologists’ diligence to achieve the publication of the LISY acronym of the Italian project of ‘The List of the Syntaxonomical Units of the Italian Vegetation’, as activated from 1996 with volume 31 of Fitosociologia; the ‘Phytosociology Bibliography for Italy (1909-1932)’ that continued with volume 33 in 1977; and moreover, the ‘List of the Synthaxonomical Unit of the Italian Vegetation (1994-1999)’ coordinated by F. Bracco. The publication archives of Fitosociologia regarding the Italian territory has been continued on-line and can be consulted through the SISV website.
In 2002, the volume concerning the ‘Guide to the Excursion of the Féderération Internationale de Phytosociologie to the Natural Parks of Monte Conero, Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga and Cirdìceo’ was published, edited by E. Biondi and C. Blasi [vol. 39 (1), Suppl. 3], realized on the occasion of the Honorary Degree granted by the University of Ancona to Prof. Dr. Salvador Rivas-Martinez [vol. 41(1), Suppl. 2]. Later, some other monographs were dedicated to the other activities of the Society, as Proceedings of International Symposia, such as: ‘Biodiversity and Phytosociology’, organized by E. Biondi in Ancona (September 18-19, 2002) [vol. 41 (1), Suppl. 1]; and ‘Biodiversity Hotspots in the Mediterranean Area’, organized by G. Bacchetta in Cagliari (June 22-24, 2009) [vol. 48 (2), Suppl. 1]. Various other monographic volumes concern the study from the phytosociological point of view of the vegetal environment of different Italian sites, such as the Monti Simbruini supplement attached to the present volume of the journal.

Scientific publishing at the world level has improved a lot in recent years, with many and numerous journals, of which the major part does not have adequate connection to their respective scientific societies. Scientific publishing at the international level is every day becoming more controlled by professional editors, who often have no real connection with the research field of the journal. These create journals that, without doubt, have improved graphic design and punctuality of volume release. On the other hand, they do not always represent a great cultural reference, because they are often linked to pressure groups (or lobbies) that exercise their media power in this way. This behavior can misunderstand the value of research and its targets in various areas.
Therefore, I think is important that the Italian Society of Vegetation Science maintains its autonomy of publishing, and that within its program choices, it gives an opportunity to all of the active researchers in the sectors indicated in the ‘Aims and Scope’ of the journal.

Journal reorganization in our sectors is now changing, more so than in the past, because of the generation characterized by the interests of conspicuous young groups of researchers.

In the past, scientific associations provided valuable cultural groups, particularly regarding phytosociological applicability, and the diffusion of important phytosociological databases, and they return to claim their necessary space, probably because of the world economic crisis. They provide a fundamental ‘ecological niche’ for young generations, which will surely allow our science to rapidly reach new aims. This is my sincere wish.

Edoardo Biondi

Ancona, June 20th, 2012

Cited literature:

Braun-Blanquet J. 1932. Plant sociology. The study of plant communities. Translated, Revised and Edited by George D. Fuller and Herry S. Conard. Authorized English translations of ‘Pflanzensoziologie’. 1st ed. Printed in the United States of America. New York and London: McGraw- Hill Book Co. Inc.

Blasi C., Biondi E. & Izco J., 2011. 100 years of plant sociology: A celebration, Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology, 145: sup1, 1-3.

Biondi E., 2011. Phytosociology today: Methodological and conceptual evolution. Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology, 145: sup1, 19-29.

Géhu J.-M., 2011. On the opportunity to celebrate the centenary of modern phytosociology in 2010, Plant Biosystems - An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology, 145: sup1, 4-8.

Pirola A & Rossi G., 1990. La ricerca fitosociologica in Italia nel 25° della fondazione della Società Italiana di Fitosociologia. Fitosociologia 25: 5-62

Pott R., 2011. Phytosociology: A modern geobotanical method, Plant Biosystems - An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology, 145 sup1, 9-18.