Silva Mediterranea

Over 90 years of Mediterranean forest management

 

Working group on Urban and Peri-urban Forestry

In a world where urban areas are rapidly expanding, sound management of resources in and around cities is of primary importance to assure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of urban development. This is also the case for the Mediterranean region, one of the most altered and urbanized areas of the planet, where 507 million people live (2010) and where urban population is expected to reach 626 million by 2050. Growing evidence of the unsustainable manner in which cities have developed is now drawing attention to the need to focus efforts on a resilient urban model. The Urban and Peri-urban Forestry (UPF) approach can contribute to reach this goal by promoting the economic, social and environmental benefits provided by trees and green spaces in and around urban areas. When well-managed and integrated in the urban and peri-urban areas, trees and green spaces can contribute to solve a range of local challenges, including:

  • local climate-change mitigation and adaptation;
  • quality food and water supply;
  • communities’ health and well-being;
  • jobs and income generation;
  • environmental conservation;
  • disaster risk management; and
  • making cities a better and healthier place to live.

In spite of this, most cities in the Mediterranean region lack forests and trees, and UPF is not yet recognized as an established scientific discipline nor as a strategic factor for the sustainable development of urban and peri-urban areas. As a result, urban forestry-related issues rank low on the local agenda of Mediterranean cities, both in developed and developing countries. Therefore, there is a need for exchange of expertise, experiences and information on UPF in order to help build a common Mediterranean strategy to promote a “green vision” and raise UPF on the political agendas in the region. The purpose and mandate of this group is to establish and consolidate a UPF networking strategy for the Mediterranean countries by acting as a neutral forum where nations can meet and negotiate agreements, as well as debate policy on UPF.

Establishment and mission of the Working Group

The need of creating a regional partnership to face the UPF issue in the Mediterranean area was clearly highlighted during the 2-days workshop "MED-ways Guidelines and common routes for the future challenges on UPF in Mediterranean Countries” held in Florence (Italy) in December 2011. This workshop, jointly organized by University of Bari (DISAAT), University of Florence (GESAAF)IUFRO and FAO in the framework of the International Year of Forests 2011, aimed at strengthening UPF networking in Mediterranean countries and improving their relationship with the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF). A few months later, in order to respond to the urgent need of building a common awareness and network on sustainable development of Mediterranean cities based on a UPF approach, the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions – Silva Mediterranea established (in the framework of its 21st session held in Turkey in February 2012) the present Working Group. After a first meeting of the Provisional Secretariat held during the 15th European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF 2012) as a follow-up to the MED-Ways workshop, a launching meeting of the Group was finally held in Granada (Spain) on 22–23 May 2014.

Mandate

While allowing the exchange of valuable information on the state-of-the-art of UPF in the Mediterranean countries, the mandate of the WG7 is to develop a UPF networking strategy for the Mediterranean countries and to act as a neutral forum where nations can meet and develop agreements, as well as debate policy aspects on the UPF issues. In particular, WG7 focuses on the following priorities:

  • develop a regional Urban and Peri-urban Mediterranean Partnership aimed at allowing theexchange of valuable information and experiences on the state of Mediterranean urban forest in the region;
  • consolidate the horizontal partnership (Northern-Eastern-Southern-Western countries) and the vertical dialogue (north-south) between decision makers, scientists, technicians and associations in order to build a strategic and common vision of Green Infrastructure and Urban Forests (UFs) and raise the visibility of UPF up on the local agendas of Mediterranean countries;
  • build a regional partnership to improve Mediterranean North-South networking in general, and countries’ policy networking in particular;
  • raise local and regional awareness of citizens and stakeholders on the benefits and incomes related to the presence and good management of forests and green in and around cities.

The WG7 will also contribute to meet the goals of the Tlemcen Declaration, adopted in the III Mediterranean Forest Week namely:

  1. developing and promoting goods and services provided by forest ecosystems and other wooded lands in the Mediterranean;
  2. promoting resilience of forest ecosystems and other wooded lands in the Mediterranean to face global changes; and,
  3. enhancing capacity of stakeholders and mobilizing the necessary resources for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems and other wooded lands in the Mediterranean.

Besides helping to meet the objectives of several international institution (see UPF website), the WG7 is also in line with the European Union Key action 12, which is to explore the potential of urban and peri-urban forests, and with the mandate of the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF). Indeed, experience gained by the EFUF network needs to be extended to the whole Mediterranean region and the WG7 may ensure this function.

Main fields of activity

  • Preparation of publications and documentations aimed at advertising the role of the WG7 as well as providing a general overview of the expertise on UPF acquired in the Mediterranean region;
  • Capacity building activities through the organization of a series of meetings;
  • Organization of side events to be held in the framework of the major international conferences related to UPF, in collaboration with the UPF FAO programme;
  • Development of guidelines, manuals and reference handbooks for technical aspects of UPF and governance;
  • Preparation of regional project proposals;
  • Organization of meetings and workshops to strengthen the relationships between the members and discuss proposals for inclusion of new activities in the work plan;
  • Development of training courses on UPF connecting all related disciplines;
  • Definition of terms, standards and indicators about UPF and related concepts, adapted to the Mediterranean region.

Coordination

The Secretariat of the WG is normally led by two coordinators, one representative of the North of the Mediterranean region and one representative of the South/East. The role of the Secretariat of the Working Group is to coordinate at regional level the National Focal Points that wish to join and participate in the activities of the group itself. The Secretariat of the WG works in close collaboration with the FAO Urban and peri-urban forestry Programme, whose main role is to ensure the coordination and dialogue in the implementation of the activities developed by the group. The secretariat for year 2015-2016 is coordinated by:

Upcoming events

The members of the WG meets twice a year to present the outcomes of the ongoing activities, revise the work plan, explore new opportunities for collaborations. The next meeting of the Group will be held in Barcelona (Spain) on 29-30 May 2017, at the occasion of the European Forum on Urban Forestry (31 May-2 June 2017). Any expert from the Region interested in participating in the event can send an email to: michela.conigliaro@fao.org

 

last updated:  Thursday, March 2, 2017