Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

For the sustainable management of Mediterranean forests

Written by Christiane Navas, NICE on Monday, August 24th 2015 à 17:08 | Read 1310 times

Under intense pressure, forest areas are nevertheless essential in maintaining biodiversity and in social and economic development. How can we ensure a sustainable future for them in the Mediterranean? This is the question to be addressed at the World Forestry Congress in Durban in September 2015.

Maâmora Forest in Morocco (DR)
Maâmora Forest in Morocco (DR)
Mediterranean forests will be one of the showcase topics at the XIV World Forestry Congress being held in Durban from 7-11th September 2015, with a stand being dedicated to them for the first time.  The aim of the initiative's instigators, the International Association for Mediterranean Forests (AIFM) and the Plan Bleu, to highlight the essential role forested areas play in maintaining biodiversity in the Mediterranean landscapes and the contribution they make to social and economic development, food security and in the fight against poverty.

The inventory taken by experts shows there are at present 25.5 million hectares of Mediterranean forest, of which 2 million are primary forest and 14 million planted. These forested areas represent a mere 9% of the Mediterranean land area, an area in which they are under severe pressure from activities such as over-grazing, firewood cutting and rampant urbanisation. Added to these are the impacts of climate change, with an increase of fire risk and insect damage. Hence the importance of implementing sustainable forest management measures. 

Providing an economic valuation of forest assets and services

The Plan Bleu, in partnership with several stakeholders including the FAO's (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Silva Mediterranea committee, has initiated a project to prepare the groundwork. "The project brings together five countries, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey. It has two aims. The first is to set up a participative governance to gather the various stakeholders involved around a same table. But it also aims to prepare an economic valuation of the assets and services provided by forest ecosystems and about which authorities have little information," explains the Plan Bleu's programme director Nelly Bourlion.

Given the innovative nature of this approach, five pilot sites (Chréa National Park in Algeria, Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon, Maâmora Forest in Morocco, the Barbar Watershed in Tunisia and Düzlerçami Forest in Turkey) have been chosen to test the methodology and adapt it to each one's specific characteristics. A preliminary economic valuation will be presented in Durban, supported by two methodology guides (social and economic valuations and participative governance). The International Forests and Water Dialogue, an event running alongside the Congress, will also be highlighting the importance of interaction between forest and water managements.

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