The Mediterranean Model Forest Network hosts the International Network in Tuscany, Italy
In the early 1990s, in a period of strong debate among environmentalists, governments, Indigenous Peoples, communities and forest workers about forest resources management and sustainability, the Model Forest approach was developed and implemented by the Government of Canada in ten sites across the country.
This approach considers the social, environmental, economic, and cultural benefits in addition to the forest timber value, aiming at balancing the weight of each of these spheres.
Led by the government of Canada, the International Model Forest Network (IMFN) was funded in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is a network of forest sites where stakeholders can exchange with the goal of scaling up lessons learned from Model Forests in Canada, and it is also a platform to share experiences with international partners.
The Mediterranean Model Forests Network (MMFN), aiming at expanding the development of and applying the concept of Model Forests in the Mediterranean basin, was established in 2007. Since 2020, it is hosted by the Italian Region of Tuscany, which manages it with the support of the Union of municipalities of Valdarno and Valdisieve and the Montagne Fiorentine Model Forest Association.
Currently, the MMFN is made up of 11 sites located in Morocco, France, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Türkiye, and Lebanon.
After a time of stasis caused by travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secretariat of the MMFN organised a meeting from 21 to 26 July 2023 at the village of Rincine, Florence, Italy. The meeting was attended by Mr Patrick Wylie, Senior Policy Analyst and Mediterranean Regional Lead of the IMFN Secretariat, along with representatives of other sites of the MMFN, like the Istria Model Forest of Slovenia and the Provence Model Forest of France and joined by the Silva Mediterranea Secretariat.
The Secretariat presented the past and future collaboration existing with the MMFN, which is a key partner. The MMFN has been an active member of the Organising Committee of the Mediterranean Forest Weeks, the bi-yearly forum organised by Silva Mediterranea, where it contributes with thematic sessions and side events and it arranges its General Assembly.
Silva Mediterranea and Montagne Fiorentine Model Forest are currently collaborating in the framework of the IKI-funded project “The Paris agreement in action: upscaling forest and landscape restoration to achieve nationally determined contributions”. The goal is to implement restoration activities in the Ifrane National Park of Morocco, in collaboration with Ifrane Model Forest. Exchange visits on restoration between Mediterranean countries, such as the one organized in May 2022 between Italy and Morocco, are also a result of this collaboration.
The MMFN meeting was an important moment to share updates from the international and the Mediterranean sites, describing the different approaches and promotion of participatory processes of active sustainable forest management. It set the scene to discuss ongoing and future collaborations between the IMFN and the Government of Canada with the MMFN and the Region of Tuscany. It was also an opportunity to explore new initiatives regarding development projects at the international level with Silva Mediterranea and other FAO programmes.
Giovanbattista de Dato (FAO)