FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Mediterranean recognized as new UN World Restoration Flagship

FAO-supported efforts by Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Türkiye are recognized by UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

13/02/2024, Cairo

The Mediterranean region – represented by Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Türkiye – has today been named one of seven new UN World Restoration Flagships under the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in recognition of country efforts to restore degraded ecosystems.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions – Silva Mediterranea provides support for these efforts, which have contributed to the restoration of around two million hectares of degraded forests across the region since 2017.

Eight million hectares are planned for restoration by 2030 under the 2017 Agadir Commitment, signed by ten Mediterranean countries.

“Mediterranean forests make crucial contributions to people’s livelihoods and food security, as well as providing water, habitat for biodiversity, carbon storage, tourism and energy, but they are threatened by increasing drought, extreme heat waves and wildfires,” said Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Near East and North Africa.

“The visionary restoration efforts by Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Türkiye collectively recognized today as a UN World Restoration Flagship provide models for other countries in the region, and will also help ensure a coordinated approach to the complex environmental challenges that the Mediterranean faces,” he added.

Restoration pledges for 2030

The Mediterranean basin is world’s second largest biodiversity hotspot, but 16 per cent of its forest species are threatened with extinction as the region comes under pressure from human populations and climate change. In the past decade, the Mediterranean has experienced its worst fire seasons on record.

The restoration efforts of the four countries focus on combating desertification, addressing deforestation, promoting sustainable land management and restoring biodiversity in the region.

Lebanon aims to restore and develop forest land and tree cover to increase forest cover from 13 percent of the country’s total area to 20 percent by 2030, including by planting heat-resilient species for diverse ecosystems to help prevent and recover from fires.

Morocco has committed to restore 4.5 million ha of land by 2030 and is implementing a reforestation program with 600 000 hectares of forest plantations.

Tunisia has pledged to restore 2 million hectares of land by 2030, and has already made progress in restoring degraded and exploited forests, as well as rangelands to improve fodder production.

Finally, Türkiye is working to restore 2.3 million hectares by 2030 to increase its forest area to 30 percent cover through afforestation, erosion control and rehabilitation while increasing food security and alleviating poverty.

The Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions – Silva Mediterranea will act as a central hub, connecting different stakeholders, organizations, and projects to showcase effective practices of post-fire restoration being used in the Mediterranean and work towards regional collaboration.

World Restoration Flagships

Led by FAO and the UN Environment Programme, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aims to prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.

The World Restoration Flagship awards recognize large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration in any country or region embodying the 10 Restoration Principles of the Decade. The main role of flagships is to provide inspiration to other countries and regions for scaling up successful restoration efforts, and to attract global attention and investments.

Six other flagships were announced today across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Globally, countries have promised to restore 1 billion hectares of degraded land as part of their commitments to the Paris climate agreement, the Aichi targets for biodiversity, the Land Degradation Neutrality targets and the Bonn Challenge