Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The commercial benefits of safeguarding forests for future generations

Written by Michel Neumuller, MARSEILLE on Thursday, September 11th 2014 à 10:25 | Read 335 times

MEDITERRANEAN. Assessing the value of goods and services provided by forests could be their best defence against climate change and unsustainable land use planning. Project manager for Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity Marion Duclercq explains why based on a recent report by Plan Bleu.

Assessing the value of forest goods and services

photo BL
photo BL
Plan Bleu has just published a technical report on the “socio-economic assessment of goods and services provided by forest ecosystems”. Do Mediterranean forests create value?
They provide us with multiple products (including wood, honey and mushrooms) and services  (water purification and regulation, soil erosion control etc.). Many people in the Mediterranean depend on this ecosystem for fuel and construction wood, hunting, gathering food and grazing animals, for example.

Even though they are not commercially valuable, these goods and services are vital. For me, protecting the forest ecosystem and the economies that depend on it seems absolutely crucial.

The fourth Mediterranean Forest Week, which will be held in Barcelona from 15 to 20 March 2015, will focus on the themes of improving livelihoods and the role of forest industries in a green economy.

What were the report's conclusions?
The report was developed within the framework of “Optimizing the production of goods and services by Mediterranean forests in a context of global changes”, a project funded by the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM).

It presents calculation methods for attributing economic value to both commercial and non-commercial forest goods and services as well as providing indicators that can be used to analyse the impact of decisions affecting forestland.

A biodiversity hotspot that attracts urban populations (photo ecomusée Maamora DR)
A biodiversity hotspot that attracts urban populations (photo ecomusée Maamora DR)
Is this theoretical work currently being put into practice?
These methods are not widely used in the Mediterranean. Four pilot sites in Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey have been chosen for testing them as part of the project.

The Maâmora forest in Morocco is important for woodland grazing, produces cork from oak wood and has also found an economic market for the gathering of acorns.

The population is also using it increasingly for leisure and nature activities.

In light of these developments, what decisions could be made to ensure that these areas are developed sustainably?
In the Mediterranean, the focus is on the creation of added value at local level. In this case, the development of forest industries would increase the value of forest products like aromatic and medicinal plants or even honey.

The involvement of different stakeholders in this area contributes significantly to improving forest land management. Finally, developing approaches to participatory governance is proving to be a central theme in the project which serves as a framework for this report.
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