Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Forests provide valuable services

Written by Michel Neumuller avec le Plan Bleu on Friday, November 2nd 2012 à 10:03 | Read 864 times

A new project involving collaboration between Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries will assess risks and their impacts on vital services provided by forests. The objective is to raise the awareness of a wide range of stakeholders of the importance of the sustainable management of these natural spaces.

2% of the planet's forests, but essentials.
2% of the planet's forests, but essentials.
MEDITERRANEAN. The Mediterranean basin accounts for 2% of the planet's forests; this is a significant proportion that we cannot afford to lose. A simple botanical study reveals a rich, wide-ranging biodiversity. 
And yet this reservoir of biodiversity is already suffering from increasing deterioration, and may decline further over the next half century. This is the result of climate change, that is likely to bring less rain, accompanied by higher temperatures and droughts. It is also the result of economic and demographic growth, that has lead to the overexploitation of resources and rising urbanization. 
The consequences of a severe decline in forest ecosystems would be significant for inhabitants of the region, who rely on them for a variety of vital services: water purification, protection of the soil against erosion, the supply of wood, mushrooms and other products. 
Coordinated initiatives need to be implemented immediately, "of which the starting point would be as local as possible", explains Marion Briens, programme officer atPlan Bleu . With the FAO , she supervises a regional co-operation project that aims to improve understanding of the threats to Mediterranean forests and to identify means of dealing with such threats. 
The studies and initiatives will concern about ten pilot areas of forest in Algeria, the Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. The value of this project also lies in its "bottom-up approach, from activities on pilot sites to regional exchanges of experience and then the publication of results on an international platform", emphasizes Marion Briens. The funding partners for the project, essentially the FFEM (French Global Environment Fund), have approved this approach that aims for maximum effectiveness. 

Services provided by the environment

What services are provided by the Mediterranean forests, and what is their value?
What services are provided by the Mediterranean forests, and what is their value?
The notion of services provided by the environment is at the heart of the development of regional policy. These services have a value which is often unknown. This value can now be used in accounting terms to serve sustainable development. 
 "Acknowledgement of the value of services provided by wooded areas in the Mediterranean can enable public policy to be influenced", explains Marion Briens. It is a way of raising people's awareness, particularly those outside of the forest sector, of generating dialogue, and offering reasons to orient policy and budget management towards the sustainable management of wooded areas. Policies that would encourage reductions in activities that damage the forests (overgrazing, urbanization, etc.), and encourage adaptation of the forests to climate change in order to ensure the long-term survival of services. Including the storage of carbon in the form of biomass, thereby reducing climate change.  

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