Green Belt Programme: Addressing the Root Causes of Desertification | WWF

Green Belt Programme: Addressing the Root Causes of Desertification

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Croatia

Europe/Middle-East > Middle East > Lebanon
Europe/Middle-East > North Africa > Morocco
Europe/Middle-East > North Africa > Tunisia
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Greece
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Italy
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Portugal
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Spain
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Turkey
Europe/Middle-East > West Central Europe > France

Summary

Forests throughout the Mediterranean region have been subject to severe degradation, leading to desertification and loss of habitat for key species. This project aims to combine traditional forest management systems with innovative conservation approaches to offer benefits to both local communities and the environment.

The ecoregional approach to conservation adopted by WWF has been instrumental in the identification of a network of important, large forest areas in the Mediterranean basin where action is urgently needed, and provides a good basis to develop new approaches to integrated conservation and land use planning. The ‘Green Belt’ concept aims to set up a sustainable network of forest reserves, surrounded by large buffer zones where land-use planning takes into account the need to preserve habitats and threatened wildlife.

Background

The Green Belt Programme is focuses on 5 of the 10 most biologically diverse forest ‘hotspots’. The protection and conservation of these forests is vital in order to preserve the natural heritage of the Mediterranean.

While the policy, advocacy, and communication work to secure the legal protection of more forest hotspots continues, the WWF team has been engaged in the identification of a model for action at the field level, to make forest conservation relevant to the local communities, promote a positive dialogue between the authorities and the grassroots level, and put in place effective measures that halt and reverse the loss of biological diversity in each area. The existing wealth of traditional forest management systems developed by the local communities along the years have a strong potential that can be used, adapted and integrated with modern approaches to achieve conservation and boost sustainable development.

The result of this process is the “Green Belts against Desertification” concept, which WWF MedPO wants to apply to 5 model forest hotspots: the Middle Atlas (Morocco), the Kroumerie (Tunisia), the Serras of southern Portugal, the Velebit mountains (Croatia), and the West Kure (Turkey).

The “Green Belt” concept aims to set up a sustainable network of forest reserves, surrounded by large buffer zones where land-use planning takes into account the need to preserve habitats and threatened wildlife.

Building on existing experience, WWF-MedPO believes that innovative sustainable use practices based on the traditional experiences and knowledge of nature resources management can be compatible with the conservation of the last remaining natural forest, and with the maintenance and restoration of good quality, semi-natural patches and “green corridors” in the buffer zones. Each “Green Belt” would thus include core protected areas where forest protection is enforced, as well as larger portions of surrounding territory, where conservation and development needs are integrated, so that local people get a clear economic advantage from their natural heritage.

Objectives

1. Stop and reverse the degradation of at least 5 key forest ecosystems in the Mediterranean basin, and lay the foundation for the long-term conservation of their biological diversity and the sustainable management of their natural resources.

2. Define and put into practice a comprehensive action plan including legal, managerial, and community-based participatory measures for the effective management of the areas, which can be eventually applied to a wider network of areas encompassing a representative sample of Mediterranean forest ecoregions.

Solution

Building on existing experience, WWF-MedPO believes that innovative sustainable use practices based on the traditional experiences and knowledge of nature resources management can be compatible with the conservation of the last remaining natural forest, and with the maintenance and restoration of good quality, semi-natural patches and green corridors in the buffer zones.

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