MENFRI project is working with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification International (PEFC), world’s largest forest certification system, to explore the possibility of a “Mediterranean forest” brand. MENFRI project wants to provide innovative solutions from research to markets engaging public and private actors.
What if Mediterranean forest was an engine of economic growth, able to combat climate change effects while also promoting sustainable and equitable development?
With this idea deeply rooted in their mind, leading researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators and NGOs from the Mediterranean basin, along with European Union (EU) and Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) representatives, met in Bologna to transform this idea in reality, through the EU funded MENFRI project.
“In European Mediterranean countries, increasing forest areas and biomass availability lead to growing risks of wild forest fires, pests, and landslide, posing also life risks to population. In the southern part of the Mediterranean basin, forest use intensification boosts desertification. Overall, the Mediterranean is suffering from land use change and climate change with dangerous consequences for our communities and environment.
Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) is the most efficient prevention strategy to face global change.
Managed forests are protected forests that can produce enrichment
The forestry experts that gathered in Bologna last November are convinced that this is the equation that can change the game and see also benefits for local communities: “Local actors have to see their forests as a source of development” underlined Christophe Besacier, specialist of Mediterranean forests at FAO. “The closer the value chain stays to the source of raw material, the more easily local populations will identify forests as a source of enrichment, jobs and quality products” he concluded.
“The dependence of local populations on forest resources is one of the main threats to Maghreb ecosystems. We believe that local populations should be sensitised and involved in the entire forests value chain from the beginning. They need to be empowered to manage the forests in a sustainable way, enjoying the benefits of the economic growth in an equitable way”. Said Rahhal Boulogoute, Moroccan businessman and cork oak forest operator.
Working for a Mediterranean forest certification brand
In the northern part of the Mediterranean, forest leading players advocate that conservation and management are key concepts to sustainable use of forest resources. They also welcome the idea of a “Mediterranean brand” which could allow products to enter a new type of market, where consumers would be able to clearly identify regional, quality and sustainable products, with an environmental and more equitable added value.
MENFRI is working with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification International (PEFC), world's largest forest certification system, to explore the possibility of a “Mediterranean forest” brand.
“Regional certification is a long-term process”, said Enrique Doblas, “but MENFRI is well placed to act as link between PEFC and Maghreb countries to begin with national certification schemes, exchange knowledge, provide training on the subject, and facilitate several initial pilot cases”. “At the end”, he concluded, “our work is to provide innovative solutions from research to markets engaging public and private actors, and we are going in the right direction”.
MENFRI is a EU funded research project aiming at fostering international cooperation amongst the Mediterranean region in the field of forestry. By setting up a discussion platform, MENFRI aims at exchanging best practices, contacts and knowledge, and at promoting the Mediterranean forestry as an innovative and job creating sector able to face global changes.
About the 2nd Stakeholders Advisory Group meeting in Bologna on November 17th 2014:
Aside from the MENFRI team, which is composed by researchers on forestry and social development, forest owners, business development and policy consulting agencies from Europe and the Maghreb, this meeting gathered forestry and cooperation experts from both northern and southern countries including: Rahhal Boulgoute (cork production, Morocco), Abdelhamid Khaldi (forest manager at INRGREF, Tunisia), Teresa Renzi (NGO on Beekeeping, Italy), Francesco Marmo (Italian Sustainable Tourism), Jordi Gené (INCAFUST, Spain), Jordi Vayreda (CREAF, Spain), Danilo Monarca (University of Tuscia, Italy), Luigi Portoghesi (University of Tuscia), Xavier Pons (Profesor at the UAB and researcher at CREAF), Tomas Matraia (European Commission), Christophe Besacier (FAO).
CREAF – www.creaf.uab.es (coordinador)
Consorci Forestal de Catalunya – www.forestal.cat
Université Hassan II – www.univh2m.ac.ma
INRGREF – www.inrgref.agrinet.tn
Warrant Group – www.warrantgroup.eu