The RESTOR’MED FORESTS project aims to implement actions for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems around the Mediterranean basin, in order to make them more resilient and functional, while training technical staff and raising awareness among local populations. It also aims to involve the local population at each stage of its development, to make them real actors in the development of their territory.
Currently, it is divided into two national projects: RESTOR’MED FORESTS Morocco and RESTOR’MED FORESTS Lebanon.
Supported by the EDF Group Foundation, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the SUD PACA Region, the RESTOR’MED FORESTS project is scheduled to last 3 years and started on January 1, 2021 to end on December 31, 2023.
The project is part of the “United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration” declared by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. The objectives of this decade is to massively strengthen the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a measure to fight the climate crisis and to strengthen food security, water supply and biodiversity.
It is also based on the concept of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): actions to protect, restore and sustainably manage natural or modified ecosystems to meet societal challenges while ensuring human well-being and producing benefits for biodiversity. 3 types of actions are listed, including the restoration of degraded ecosystems or the creation of new ecosystems.
The Moroccan component of RESTOR’MED FORESTS is located in the region of Chefchaouen, in the Talassemtane National Park, a site with remarkable biodiversity. The park’s flora includes 11 major forest species including the endemic and emblematic Abies Marocana fir. In addition, there are 35 other endemic species, 15 very rare species and 11 rare species. However, the park is subject to constraints related to the agricultural occupation of the land, causing clearing, soil erosion and desertification of forest areas, as well as the risk of forest fires.
The Lebanese part of RESTOR’MED FORESTS takes place on two distinct sites: the Bentael Nature Reserve and the Menjez forest, both remarkable for their biodiversity. The site of Bentael is indeed a hotspot of biodiversity declared Important Bird Area and the village forest of Menjez is home to the endemic Mount Tabor oak (Quercus ithaburensis), as well as many rare endemic floral species (Lathyrus basalticus, Verbascum blancheanum, Vicia hyaeniscianus …)
The RESTOR’MED FORESTS project aims to implement a sustainable management model and restoration actions on Moroccan and Lebanese forest areas, considered as emblematic, all in a participatory approach involving the local populations at all levels. These actions will allow these ecosystems to become healthy, resilient and functional again, and thus to adapt to climate change and contribute to the reduction of fire risks, pest outbreaks, the protection of biodiversity and the socio-economic development of local populations.
In Morocco, this project gives rise to a restoration action on a 15-hectare parcel of land where work has begun in December 2021. This parcel will allow the planting not only of maritime pine but also a seedling of Abies Marocanna, of high ecological and endemic importance. A village forest nursery will also be created within the framework of the project, ensuring the sustainability of the restoration work.
In Lebanon, 3h hectares of forest areas will be restored and various pruning or biological control actions will be carried out to fight against the epidemics suffered by pine and oak trees.
Both projects will create local seasonal jobs for the local population. In addition, awareness-raising activities for schoolchildren and local populations, as well as the development of the knowledge and skills of technical forestry personnel will take place.
The methodologies implemented and the results obtained from the project will be capitalized by the AIFM and disseminated in its network before being presented at the 15th World Forestry Congress in Seoul (Republic of Korea) in 2022. Each of the two national projects will allow the local partners to come and present the results obtained in Marseille at the end of their implementation.
In Morocco, AIFM is working on the implementation of the project with the following partners:
- The Department of Water and Forests, represented by the Regional Directorate of Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification of the Rif (DREFLCD-R);
- The Talassemtane Association for Environment and Development (ATED);
- The Moroccan Association of Regional Sciences (AMSR);