The "Associazione Italiana Naturalisti" (AIN) (Association of Italian Naturalists) was founded in Turin in 1974. Its aims are to professionally safeguard Naturalists, to achieve their best possible training and qualification and at the same time publicise naturalistic interests.
Associazione Italiana Naturalisti
Associazione Italiana Naturalisti
Members of the Association (Members) must hold a degree in the Natural Sciences or be enrolled as students in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Supporters, without a University Degree in the Natural Sciences or not students of the Faculty but who support the aims of Association, may join as Supporter member (Aderenti). Members fall into the following categories:
- Teachers of all levels
- Employed and self-employed graduates
- Students and those without a degree.
Members must have a good preparation in the Natural Sciences and professional integrity. They must not abuse their professional capacities for speculative ends and must carry out their profession with the maximum respect for the environment.
The AIN is divided into regional sections.
In December, 1996, AIN joined the Council for Associations with no Professional Register (CNEL). The Association has recently set up a National List of Expert Members (Repertorio Nazionale Soci Esperti, RNSE). This list, which is an comprehensive part of the AIN, groups members with appropriate experience and qualifications under their specific professional fields. Admission to the register is through written application and by decision of a specially appointed committee. For several years now, AIN has been fighting for its own National Order of Naturalists and has proposed several laws in this sense.
FIELDS OF INTERVENTION OF THE NATURALIST
In the past, the role of the Naturalist was fundamentally that of a scholar of natural history whose job was to describe and observe "natural objects". Today, it is increasingly clear that it is impossible to separate human interventions on our planet from specialised knowledge of the elements that constitute the environment and how they interact.
The figure of the Naturalist has found a new space in this context as the Professional figure competent in dealing with the natural elements of a territory, its structure and ecosystem dynamics. The AIN follows this cultural and professional development of its members by keeping informed of the degree courses in the Natural Science and promoting meetings and cultural exchanges through lessons, seminars and conferences aimed at the professional updating and qualification of its members. There are several areas where Naturalists currently excercise their profession: protection, safeguard and management of the environment, territorial planning, Natural History and environmental education, and even in the fine arts.
AIN has always endeavoured to underline the fundamental characteristic of the Naturalist, i.e. the ability to integrate the biological and abiological aspects of the environments in his/her profession. The Naturalist's interdisciplinary preparation allows the different problems of a habitat to be treated as a whole, whilst at the same time each individual component can be tackled in depth. In the capacity of a "fundamental ecologist" the Naturalist can interpret crucial signs in an environment and collaborate with other specialists to plan the correct interventions. As a specialist, the Naturalist can assist in identification and analysis of fauna, plant and ecosystem dynamics. The Naturalist first observes, records and describes the elements of the natural system under study. These observations are then transformed into mathematical expressions which define the quality and quantity of the data; in this way his objective observations are transformed into useful tools for territorial planning, environmental management, environmental impact studies, naturalistic engineering, etc.
The various systems of biomonitoring which the Naturalist has at disposition also deserves mention for their role in correct territorial management. Another of AIN's aims is the diffusion of naturalistic interests and environmental education. Teaching of the Natural Sciences has always been one of the traditional professional outlets of the Naturalist; today a further professional opportunity is education aimed at mature students and interested people of all ages. Indeed, environmental education is becoming more and more important, not only as a basic subject for pupils of school age bat also in adult education. Mature students are increasingly asking for the opportunity to familiarise themselves with modern environmental problems and to equip themselves with enough indispensable knowledge so that they can make the right every day decisions in their relationship with the environment, express more competent views and make more responsible choices.
In the field of the protection and management of the artistic heritage, the Naturalist, as ever with an ecological approach, can intervene at several levels, for example as an expert in biodeterioration on works for art, as a palynologist in archaeological excavations, as a consultant for historical parks and in the management of botanical gardens. An obvious roles of the Naturalist, on account of his specific preparation in taxonomy, is the organisation of museums collections, both regarding the display and cataloguing of the collections and generally in the management and education aspects of the museum as a whole.