Silva Mediterranea - Forest Genetic Resources Working Group (WG4)
Importance of initiatives regarding comparative plantations
The countries to the south of the Mediterranean have to cope with desertification problems resulting not only from overgrazing, which prevents natural regeneration, but also from the uncontrolled growth of urban zones along the coast. The fact that forests represent an importance source of income for local people (fuelwood, fodder, etc.) in these countries makes reforestation all the more urgent. On the other hand, the countries to the north of the Mediterranean have to cope with the flight from their rural areas. The abandonment of farmland and the uncontrolled spread of forests on such land bring many problems. The accumulation of woody material leads to highly destructive fires, from which forests often find it hard to recover. In these circumstances, reforestation of such land is often necessary.
Inter- and intra-species variability in the Mediterranean basin is also seriously endangered. Steps have already been taken to protect certain relict natural stands (Abies nebrodensis in Italy and Cupressus lusitanica in Morocco). In this context, comparative plantations represent an invaluable off-site conservation network for genetic resources.
Such plantations could also offer precious indications for the future regeneration of our forests in the context of global climate warming. Their long-term monitoring would give a good picture of the impact of climate change on forest resources and suggest anticipatory management solutions (transfer of material).