Mediterranean woodlands: diverse and multifunctional ecosystems to be preserved
Strengthen forest strategies in partner countries and develop new indicators on the sustainable management of goods and services.
Forests as a source of multiple goods and services
Mediterranean woodlands play an essential role in maintaining biological diversity and landscapes’ quality and contribute to the regulation of natural cycles, at both:
- Local level: availability and quality of water resources, soil protection,
- Global level: carbon storage.
Wooded ecosystems are necessary to the daily life of Mediterranean populations as producers of renewable resources. Woodlands – which are constantly interacting with agriculture, stock farming, crafts, industry, urban planning and leisure activities – are at the basis of activities and generate incomes. However they are under strong pressures (overgrazing, fire risk, fuelwood collection, urbanization, etc.).
Multifunctional wooded lands are threatened
Mediterranean forest ecosystems extend over 75 million hectares, composed by 25,5 million hectares of forests and by 50 million of other wooded lands, and contribute to make the Mediterranean a biodiversity hotspot. The multifunctionality of these landscapes has long been known. The Mediterranean forest is the core of multiple social, environmental and economic practices: timber products, fuelwood, picking, hiking, tourism, etc.
However increasing anthropogenic pressures (urbanization, population growth, tourism development, etc.) are responsible for degradation of forest ecosystems. In the Mediterranean, this process is intensified by climatic changes.
Contrasted forest situations/contexts
The type of forest uses in the Mediterranean is very variable depending on different trajectories of economic development. In northern countries, where forests are mostly privately owned, vegetation developed through its natural dynamics following the abandonment of agricultural land. Shrub encroachment of forest due to the abandonment of silvo-pastoralism, poor logging and forest visits increase, have increased the risk of fire and the forest dieback process.
In the southern and eastern countries, forests are the support of many uses such as fodder production, non-timber forest products collection (cork, fruit, mushrooms, etc.) and firewood collection. Most of the time, these practices contribute significantly to the degradation of these ecosystems.
Fuelwood: a potential response to climate change and rural development issues
The ongoing climate changes call for an increased use of renewable energies and for an adaptation of forest management practices in order to limit damages on ecosystems.
The use of wood as a source of energy in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries, in addition to its essential role in the daily life of local people, may be a response to climate issues, if such use is done in the framework of sustainable and integrated management of multiple functions of the forest ecosystem, which is based on the management and conservation of biodiversity.
A regional partnership to strengthen forest cooperation
Plan Bleu’s « forest » activities are carried out in the framework of the Collaborative Partnership Mediterranean Forests (CPMF), which actually gathers six countries (Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey and Syria), and AIFM, AFD/FGEF, CIHEAM, COFOR-International, CTFC, EFIMED, GIZ, IUCN-Med, MAAF, the Global Mechanism, MMFN, ONF-I, Plan Bleu, the Secretariat of FAO Committee Silva Mediterranea, TIKA, UNDP-Turkey, WWF-MedPo.
This partnership aims to encourage and facilitate the implementation of sustainable forest management and the protection of goods and services provided in the partner countries in a context of climatic change.
In the framework of this partnership, several activities are implemented:
- In 2018, Plan Bleu has co-published with FAO, the 2nd edition of the State of Mediterranean Forests. In 2013, Plan Bleu also contributed to the first state of Mediterranean forests and to the strategic framework on Mediterranean forests.
- Plan Bleu participates every two years in the organizing committee of the Mediterranean forest weeks. The last edition took place in Agadir, Morocco in March 2017 and focused on restoration of forests and landscapes.
- Mediterranean forests have been represented for the first time at international level at the World Forestry Congress in Durban, in September 2015.
- Project ownership, named « Optimizing the production of goods and services by Mediterranean forests in a context of global changes», has been jointly entrusted to Plan Bleu and FAO (Secretariat of Silva Mediterranea) and funded by the French Global Environment Facility (FGEF) over the period 2011-2016.