People, the economy and forests

People, the economy and forests

Did you know that forests act as water filters? Did you know that the forest can be a critical ingredient in achieving resilient cities? If you answered no, then bear with me as I show you that interactions among forests and other sectors are not one-way interactions.

Although we are aware of the effects sectors like water and agriculture have on forests, we tend to ignore unintentionally the other side of the interconnection. During the second plenary session that took place at the sixth Mediterranean forest week in Lebanon, keynote guest speakers followed four tracks to demonstrate forest-based solutions focusing on landscape approaches connecting forests to other sectors.

Forest based solutions link with other sectors

Mr. Bahtiyar Kurt, natural resources and biodiversity cluster lead at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Turkey, closed the session by asserting the importance of integrated forest management by highlighting the results of a project implemented in Turkey. He also touched upon gender equality in Turkey by presenting campaigns addressing the issue which framed women as sustainable development drivers.

Dr. Shiroma Sathyapala, forestry officer at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), opened the session by explaining the existing relationship between forests and water. She stressed the role of forests and their impact on water quality and quantity. She also briefly described the Forest and Water Programme launched by FAO.

Following was Ms. Paloma Cariñanos, a lecturer from the University of Granada, who kicked off her presentation by showing alarming population trends in Mediterranean cities. Ms. Cariñanos then indicated that it is crucial to reconsider the role of nature and forests in mitigating climate change. Her conclusion was that cities need to be made more inclusive, resilient and sustainable in order to achieve the Paris Agreement sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Another interesting speech was presented by the third panelist, Mr. Youssef Saadani from Tunisia, who linked forests to rural development and agriculture. Mr. Saadani acknowledged the importance of considering the territory as a whole and of implementing landscape management to improve local development.

In general, panelists emphasized the role of an intersectoral approach to effectively addressing longstanding challenges facing the Mediterranean region.

So, the next time you hear about the impact of a sector on forests, don’t forget to think the other way around!

Blogpost by Zeinab Chamas