Sustainable forest management is a key tool for improving forest resilience in the face of climate change, and can also play a significant role in the conservation and improvement of biodiversity. At the moment, however, there are no specific, generally accepted management instructions for incorporating biodiversity conservation into the strategies and tools of forest management.
This is the challenge that the new Life BIORGEST project, “Innovative Forest Management Strategies to Enhance Biodiversity In Mediterranean Forests”, aims to address. Life BIORGEST brings together the scientific community, environmental and conservation NGOs, public administration and private forest owners. The project is being developed in Catalonia (NE Spain) and Occitanie (SE France) and covers the most widespread and representative forest habitats of community interest (HCI) in the Mediterranean region of Western Europe: holm oak forests (pure and mixed), sub-humid oak and pine and cork oak forests.
The main objective of the project is to improve the biodiversity of Mediterranean forests through the integration of specific measures and innovative practices in forest planning and management instruments, and through new financing and compensation mechanisms. To this end, Life BIORGEST engages a wide range of experts and stakeholders involved in Mediterranean forest biodiversity. The aim is to make biodiversity enhancement compatible with the economic sustainability of forest management, guaranteeing the continuity of the stands and their adaptation to climate change.
Based on the use of innovative management models, this overarching goal can be broken down into six core objectives:
- Improve the biodiversity of the most representative Mediterranean forests by incorporating innovative practices into forest management, balancing these forests’ environmental, social and economic assets and guaranteeing their adaptation to climate change.
- Demonstrate the applicability of the measures proposed with on-field implementation.
- Create a revised, accepted version of the Index of Potential Biodiversity for Catalonia (IBP_Cat) to be used as a diagnostic forest management and planning support tool.
- Develop new funding mechanisms to provide private forest owners with incentives to apply biodiversity improvement measures.
- Incorporate the measures developed into the regional policies and standards which govern Mediterranean forest management.
- Transfer the results to all parties involved and raise societal awareness on the importance of improving biodiversity with sustainable, multi-purpose forest management.
The challenge of LIFE BIORGEST is to generate much more comprehensive and unifying technical prescriptions to incorporate biodiversity conservation in sustainable, multifunctional management, in a way that has not been addressed to date in the region. The project expects to not only generate management models to enhance biodiversity, but to effectively transfer these protocols to the forestry sector and foster the conservation of biodiverse habitats, including by raising awareness among forest owners, managers, and the general public of the issues addressed and the solutions provided by Life BIORGEST.