Key highlights from the 7th Mediterranean Forest Week through EFIMED’s lens

EFIMED team members attended the 7th Mediterranean Forest Week and provide an overview of the highlights of the event, with a special focus on the events in which the European Forest Institute was closely involved.

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Photo: Magda Bou Dagher

The city of Antalya, Turkey has recently been the meeting point for academics, researchers, policy makers, and working professionals from the forestry field coming from all over the Mediterranean basin and other regions of the world. The 7th Mediterranean Forest Week was held from 21-25 March and the European Forest Institute’s Mediterranean Facility (EFIMED) played an important role, with researcher Eduard Mauri as co-organiser of a session and a side event, and Principal Scientist Magda Bou Dagher as speaker in a session.

On the first day, the session Non-wood forest products for people, nature and the green economy. Recommendations for policy priorities in the Mediterranean, moderated by Eduard Mauri, presented the white paper based on lessons learned across the Mediterranean, one of the main outcomes of the H2020 INCREDIBLE project, which was recently jointly published by EFI and FAO. These recommendations are grouped around four themes. Four short presentations of success stories illustrated each topic:

  1. Secure the conservation and sustainable supply of non-wood forest products (NWFP): successful cork oak reforestation efforts in south-west Spain to increase cork supply in the long term, with the support of conducive polices.

  2. Build competitive and equitable value chains: beekeeping in and near forests provides pollicisation of tree species, increasing genetic flow and diversity, while producing honey and propolis.

  3. Provide transparency, data and information flow on NWFP: Turkey is a good example of a sophisticated data-gathering system by the General Directorate of Forests developed to collect and report data on non-wood forest products resources, in addition to data on their prices and sales.

  4. Create enabling conditions: adequate fiscal regimes allow data transparency and product traceability, reduce black market and allow collecting more taxes. In addition to this, the new Italian regulation and taxation on mushrooms and truffles gave a legal and professional status to pickers.
Eduard Mauri (EFIMED) moderating the session on the potential of non-wood forest products for Europe’s green economy.

In addition, non-wood forest products can be a source of women empowerment, with training and capacity building programmes to decentralized co-management of resources for harvesting, processing, and marketing activities: an example from Tunisia was presented.

A common debate linked this session to the morning session on Improving the value-chain of Mediterranean Wild Food Products (WFP): special insight into how certification, branding and labelling can upgrade the economic value of edible non-wood forest products. The debate, in which six speakers participated, revolved around two main topics: what should be the role of public administration in relation to NWFP certification; and what should be the role of public administration in relation to other NWFP issues and the involvement of private actors.

During the second day, the side event Resilient landscapes, Safe communities: Innovative Practices for Integrated Fire Management in the Mediterranean, moderated by Elena Hernández (Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge) started presenting four success cases on integrated fire management from Spain, Greece, Lebanon and Turkey. A debate followed, with panellists from Portugal, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey.

The panellists had the chance to react to the results of the survey 10 years of wildfire prevention in the Mediterranean and to propose new and updated recommendations for the position paper Wildfire prevention in the Mediterranean, published in 2011. This debate was the first cornerstone to identify the main topics of interest to lay the foundations for the new position paper, to be published in 2023, under the coordination of EFI and the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge).

Elena Hernández (Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge) moderating the session on innovative practices for integrated fire management in the Mediterranean. Photo: Magda Bou Dagher

Finally, in the session Restoration strategies in the Mediterranean region: exploring cost-efficient interventions through assisted natural regeneration and appropriate use of forest genetic resources, moderated by Abdelhamid Khaldi, president of the International Association for Mediterranean Forests (AIFM), Magda Bou Dagher highlighted the importance of considering genetic diversity when conducting forest and landscape restoration.

Overall, this session shared knowledge related to the restoration of degraded Mediterranean forest landscapes by focusing on assisted natural regeneration and forest genetic resources: its appropriateness, the factors to consider, basic procedures to be put in place, fire recovery strategies, forest genetic resources, recovery and improvement of biodiversity, interactions between species and movements within landscapes, and financial resources available.

Participants in the event had also the chance to participate in the field visit on 23 March, featuring post-fire restoration efforts in a Pinus brutia forest, a visit to the gene conservation area of Datça Date (Phoenix theophrasti), which is an endemic species of the region, and a visit to a small-scale private facility processing wild laurel leaves and fruits. The Mediterranean Forest Week provided precious opportunities for networking and laying the groundwork for possible future collaborations.