The International Association of Mediterranean Forests (IAMF) and its 14 partners have recently announced the implementation of the Interreg MED INHERIT project within the European Forest Institute network. This project, funded by the European Interreg MED Programme and the French Departmental Council of Bouches-du-Rhône, aims to improve policy development and coordination of strategies between territories on the promotion of sustainable coastal and maritime tourism in the Mediterranean area.
This approach will be positive both for natural habitats and for tourism, as it will:
- Protect and enhance the quality of the natural heritage, thereby augmenting attractiveness for tourists.
- Leverage visibility, thereby enhancing the value of tourism offering.
- Sustain natural heritage, thereby increasing the long-term value of tourism.
The INHERIT project is currently identifying natural heritage sites that are threatened by negative effect of tourism development, called INHERITURA pilot sites, where those bottom-up protection measures will be applied to alleviate the effects of seasonality and locality peaks.
Side event during 6th Mediterranean Forest Week
A side event on “Preservation and valorisation of forests from mass-tourism” was organised by AIFM on April 2nd, 2019 during the Sixth Mediterranean Forest Week. The three speakers from the INHERIT partners project provided us with great analysis:
- Mrs Nelly Bourlion, Forest ecosystem and biodiversity program officer, UNEP/MAP Plan Bleu
- Mr Consuelo Rosauro, General directorate of natural environment, Region of Murcia
- Mrs Ionna Augustides, former Coordinator, AIFM
This event informed the participants that even though tourism is considered as a pillar of Mediterranean economies – especially with employment opportunities (11.5% of the total number of jobs in 2014) and economic growth (11.3% of the region’s GDP). This importance is accompanied by ecosystem degradation and increasing risk of losing cultural and natural heritage (27% of all UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Mediterranean countries).
Three main negative impacts (UNEP, 2001) were cited: depletion of natural resources (water, land degradation, energy, food), pollution (air pollution and noise, solid waste and littering, sewage, aesthetic pollution) and physical impacts (construction activities and development of infrastructure, deforestation, marina development, extensive paving of shorelines, trampling, anchoring, alteration of ecosystems by activities).
What stage is the INHERIT project at?
The INHERIT fourth project meeting held in Montpellier, France, on 11st-12nd September 2019, ended the studying and data collection phase.
Project partners discussed the progress so far on the testing phase. This bundle of activities aims to provide the testing ground, through representative pilot actions, for the lessons learnt in the studying phase. Stakeholders are being approached to involve them in this testing phase. These actors can indicatively include:
- Environmental authorities or organizations’ representatives;
- Public authorities’ representatives;
- ICZM regional delegates or coastal planning authorities;
- Tourism service operators;
- Civil society representatives;
- Other sectoral representatives operating in the vicinity.
Project partners are starting to implement pilot actions in own territories, document the results, and validate which practices work best in the Mediterranean. Currently, AIFM is working with the “Côte Bleue” stakeholders to implement eco-counters in the wide-scale forest to adapt the regulation measures to the trails’ frequentation. In addition, a more ambitious objective is, depending on pilot results, to lead to the formation of the first INHERITURA sites.