Comité des questions forestières méditerranéennes Silva Mediterranea
Over 90 years of Mediterranean forest management
Working Together Towards Greener and Healthier Mediterranean Cities
The Silva Mediterranea Working Group on Urban and Peri-Urban Forestry was created in 2011 to promote urban forestry practices as a tool for increased urban sustainability and resilience in the Mediterranean region. The Group coordinated by the FAO Urban and peri-urban forestry programme meets twice a year to update its work plan, redress priorities for action, exchange views on research topics, and brainstorm on the possible implementation of collaborations and projects.
The 9th Workshop of the Working Group took place in Rome (Italy), on 26-27 April this year and counted on the participation of 19 experts from the region. Participants discussed how to increase the visibility of the group and maximize the impact of its activity in supporting UPF implementation in the region, as recommended in the recently adopted New Strategic Framework on Mediterranean.
Participants also highlighted the need to focus efforts on raising local administrators’ awareness on the contribution of UPF to more sustainable urban development. In line with this, the Group agreed to give priority to the finalization of a policy brief to guide city administrators in creating the enabling environment for UPF, to be launched at the occasion of the upcoming World Forum on Urban Forestry (Mantua, Italy, November 2018). In parallel, the Group would continue to work on the development of a regional set of indicators to support assessment and monitoring of urban forests management. Good practices from the region would also be collected and published as a reference tool for city administrators and professionals on how to replicate and upscale UPF in Mediterranean cities. These two outputs would be launched at the occasion of the VI Mediterranean Forest Week, in the framework of a dedicated event organized by the Group (Beirut, Lebanon, March 2019).
The COST-Action proposal Food-4-Urban, developed by a core team of the WG and recently submitted, was presented. If the proposal is approved, it will be the first formal collaboration implemented in the framework of the WG. In addition to help expanding the WG network, the project would also be instrumental in increasing the visibility of the WG in the European context.
Participants also discussed the need to address the lack of members from the South in order to develop a more comprehensive Mediterranean approach to UPF. Focal points in those countries will be contacted and encouraged to participate in the activities of the WG. To this aim, the COST-Action Food-4-Urban would represent a good opportunity to involve them in a more formal manner.
With regard to increasing visibility, participants welcomed the proposal from the Silva Mediterranea Secretariat to take advantage of upcoming Silva Mediterranea meetings, in particular those organized in the framework of the FAO Commission on Forestry 2018 (COFO 24) and of the VI Mediterranean Forest Week (Beirut, Lebanon, March 2019), to report on the progress made by the Group. At COFO 24, the WG will also present the content of the chapter on the relevance and potential contribution of trees outside forests towards more sustainable development developed as contribution to the State of Mediterranean Forests 2018.
Participants welcomed the proposal to explore possible common fields of interest with the other Silva Mediterranea WGs towards the development of joint activities. The proposal of establishing contacts with other international networks dealing with UPF in other regions was also welcomed by participants, who confirmed their availability to support the organization of a Regional Networks Meeting to be held in the framework of the upcoming World Forum on Urban Forestry (November 2018, Mantua, Italy). The event would gather together the four main regional networks dealing with the topic: the Silva Mediterranea Working Group on Urban and Peri-Urban Forestry, the European Forum on Urban Forestry, the Asia-Pacific Urban Forestry Forum an and the Latin-America Urban Forestry Forum.
The possibility of proposing Urban and peri-urban forestry as the main topic for the 2021 Mediterranean Forest Week was also flagged by the Secretariat of the Silva Mediterranea. The proposal will be further explored by the Group over the coming months to be eventually confirmed by end of this year.
Michela Conigliaro (FAO)