The Mediterranean is a key area for the implementation of practices aimed at restoring forest landscapes (Forest Landscape Restoration, FLR). Some FLR practices are already widely known to experts, such as those of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, others are relatively unknown and often not formally defined as “FLR” practices. Two recent publications, available online, look more closely at this issue: Forest and Landscape Practices in the Mediterranean: A Survey (2021) and Forest and Landscape Restoration Guidelines: Regaining Landscape Resilience, Ecological Functionality and Human Well-being related to the Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon(2020).
The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) defines FLR as “the process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. (…) A means of regaining, improving, and maintaining vital ecological and social functions, in the long term leading to more resilient and sustainable landscapes.” Restoring forest landscapes requires intervening on natural ecosystems as well as on economic and social systems, including governance. Such an integrated approach could be intimidating, and information on interesting practices that contribute to FLR implementation needs to be more visible and the results of these practices better known.
Forest and Landscape Practices in the Mediterranean: A Survey explores how best to undertake the restoration of forest landscapes in the Mediterranean region. The document, collects eight practices from five countries around the Mediterranean: the landscapes of Abies pinsapo and the Mosaico project (Spain); the Aterno Valley and the Insubria ecological corridor between the Alps and the Ticino Valley (Italy); the Juniperus coastal dunes of Crete and the South Aegean (Greece); the Murat River Watershed (Turkey); the mountain forests of the Ifrane Province and the silvopastoral ecosystems of Morocco. The results indicate that there are numerous initiatives around the region that respect the principles of FLR. There is clearly a need, however, for a consistent approach to monitor throughout the Mediterranean, as well as practical examples that inspire new initiatives and can be replicated in other contexts.
Forest and Landscape Restoration Guidelines: Regaining Landscape Resilience, Ecological Functionality and Human Well-being is an abridged and reader-friendly version of the more extensive guidelines published in 2019. The Guidelines systematically describe activities following FLR principles undertaken in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve from 2012, explaining them step by step and demonstrating the importance of these best practices.
Mediterranean forests are biodiversity hotspots on a continental scale. The conifers of the Mediterranean basin, for example, have 32 endemic species out of 40 species present in the area, including numerous fir trees (Spanish fir Abies pinsapo, Numidian fir A. numidica, Kefalonia fir A. cephalonica, Nebrodi fir A. nebrodensis etc.), pines (Calabrian pine Pinus brutia, Bosnian pine P. heldreichii, Aleppo pine P. halepensis etc.) and above all the majestic cedars (Cedar of the Atlas Cedrus atlantica and Cedar of Lebanon C. libani). These are vulnerable ecosystems, subject to numerous anthropogenic threats: over-exploitation of natural resources, urbanization, abandonment of traditional agricultural and pastoral activities, mass tourism. However, global change poses the main danger to Mediterranean forests, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events (storms, drought), creating suitable conditions for fires, causing plants to wither (dieback) and retreat to higher-altitude habitats.
With these two publications Medforval and Istituto Oikos contribute to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 (UN-DER) and encourage the implementation of FLR in the Mediterranean. The two publications are part of the activities of the project ‘Mediterranean Knowledge on Forest and Landscape Restoration’ funded by the MAVA Foundation and coordinated by Al Shouf Cedar Society, in collaboration with Medforval and Istituto Oikos.