The Mediterranean Region is one of the most vulnerable areas to global change
Forested areas in the Mediterranean Basin show great sensitivity to several drivers of change and their interaction. Connections between extreme climate events and a long history of land use changes have been shown to result in more frequent and intense fires, forest disease expansion and land degradation among other impacts.
While in European Mediterranean countries land abandonment is promoting new unmanaged forest cover, increasing fire and pest risks, in the south of the basin forest uses intensification results in desertification as the principal threat.
The global change impacts on forest ecosystems goods and services poses an enormous societal challenge
Global change is a matter of concern that has extended to all social scales, even in the face of the economic crisis we are dealing with. In fact, the defence of regional natural resources should be part of the aims in the agenda to escape from financial dependency to sustainable development. We will tackle such societal challenges by helping to bridge the gap between research and the market.
On the one hand, forest ecological research focuses in understanding and predicting the impacts of global change in our forests but lacks the means to put solutions into practice. On the other hand, Mediterranean forest owners and SME related to forestry need to be integrated in the conservation of forest services in order to revitalize the sector.
MENFRI will thus bring together actors from enterprises, civil society, policy makers and research to work jointly on the development of the Mediterranean forestry sector
Forest managers do not have the tools to face climate change impacts, scientific information is fragmented and not materialized in clear resources, and financial resources for the sector are scarce.
In addition, European policy makers, who play the important role of regulating many aspects related to forestry, are in deep need of scientific information in order to design a comprehensive and coherent European forestry policy.
In such context, the knowledge of the main technologies and techniques available and the interconnection between forestry research and business in both sides of the Mediterranean are two of the best ways to increase efficiency under the available budget.
For example, local owners from the south could learn from northern forestry associations to manage in a landscape scale and therefore combine larger benefits with regional conservation thanks to geographical information technologies. In the same way, alternative forest goods and traditional knowledge may convince north forests’ owners to manage abandoned forests in order to obtain economic benefit.
Forestry companies from the north and the south of the Mediterranean Region need this kind of support to strengthen their business leadership in innovation. There is a call for better understanding, mapping and coordinating these various forestry research and business dynamics in order to create the right knowledge base and connections for further actions in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
To manage to create a favourable environment for the development of an organized, innovative and job creating business sector in this region while facing climate change, MENFRI will work on the base of three main pillars
- To gather a group of multisectorial stakeholders, experts on their respective domains, as a think tank with the objective of understanding the current situation of the Mediterranean forestry sector and the possibilities and existing barriers to innovation.
- To favour the interchange of knowledge through the implementation of training activities on forest management (from traditional techniques to GIS), association, business creation and H2020 on both sides of the Mediterranean
- To create a network of Mediterranean forestry related research centres, forest owners, NGOs, SMEs, investors and any other stakeholder in the needing of support, ideas or knowledge to carry out initiatives of sustainable development.