Mediterranean forest and landscape restoration: towards an agenda?

Mediterranean forest and landscape restoration: towards an agenda?

Forests and other wooded lands are part of Mediterranean landscapes. They provide fuelwood, water, food, tourism services and many other goods and services, and are a source of income. The sectors of several of the goods and services provided by Mediterranean forest ecosystems play a key role in the improvement of population livelihoods. Global changes such as societal changes, changes in the ways of life and climate change that are currently occurring in the Mediterranean region have a negative impact of the forest ecosystems and result in forest degradation, biodiversity loss, increased risk of wild res, water shortage and desertification.

At the global scale, countries have taken commitments to ght against forest ecosystem degradation, such as the Bonn Challenge, the Aichi Target 15 of the CBD, the UNCCD target on land degradation neutrality, the Paris Agreement on climate, or the Sustainable Development Goal 15.

Forest and landscape restoration is an intersectoral approach aiming at promoting productive and multifunctional landscapes with an optimal and negotiated balance between economic, social and environmental benefits provided by forests. This vision of forest and landscape restoration, now widely recognized at the international level, is at the crossroad of the three Rio conventions and will also contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Following the example of several commitments taken on a global or regional level through various current initiatives (Bonn Challenge, the 20×20 Initiative in Latin America, the AFR100 “African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative” in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ankara initiative to help to achieve land degradation neutrality using UNCCD tools), the Mediterranean region could follow the same path towards a regional Mediterranean initiative on forest and landscape restoration.

Different projects on restoration in different Mediterranean countries have already paved the way to this target. The working group of Silva Mediterranea on “Deserti cation and Restoration of Forest Ecosystems of Mediterranean Drylands” led by Turkey is already promoting activities at regional level to promote forest and landscape restoration. After its workshop organized on October 16, 2015 in Ankara during the UNCCD COP 12 (see Newsletter 22), the working group has underlined the importance of forest and landscape restora- tion in its work plan during the meeting of the Execu- tive Committee of Silva Mediterranea held on April 8, 2016. The Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week (V MFW) that will be held between March 20 and 24 2017 in Morocco will also focus on the restoration of forests and Mediterranean landscapes. All these activities are also strongly supported by the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism of FAO that will organize, together with WRI, IUCN, BMU and existing FLR regional initiatives, a side event on “Forest and Landscape Restoration regional initiatives: toward the regionalisation of the Bonn Challenge” during the 23rd session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 23) on 20 July 2016. Therefore, the momentum seems appropriate to consolidate national activities on forest and landscape restoration into a regional commitment at the Mediterranean level. An agenda, based on the main international meetings on forest and landscape restoration (side-event during COFO 23, side-event during UNFCCC COP 22, Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week), could be set up to move closer to this Mediterranean regional initiative.