15 March 2022, Rome – The future of Mediterranean forests and their potential to alleviate the job crisis affecting millions of young people in the region will be in focus at next week’s 7th Mediterranean Forest Week.

Taking place from 21 to 25 March 2022 in Antalya, Turkey, the event will bring together 26 countries and the European Union to discuss forest and ecosystem restoration, the management of Mediterranean ecosystems in view of post-pandemic scenarios, and recent innovation and case studies from the region.

“The youth focus of this year’s session will send a clear message: young people are invaluable agents against forest and landscape degradation, and working with them to protect and restore nature is critical to create a greener, more sustainable future,” said Giovanbattista de Dato, FAO Senior Forestry Expert of the Silva Mediterranea Secretariat.

“The forest sector in the Mediterranean can offer opportunities for green jobs and entrepreneurship to young professionals, helping to tackle high unemployment rates in the region.”

The proportion of young people in Mediterranean countries who are not in education, employment or training ranges between 7 and 33 percent, with additional disparities between sub-regions and gender.

Involving the Mediterranean youth labour force in forests could help give value to the goods and services provided by forests and improve the social perception of forestry, participants will hear at next week’s meeting, which has the theme ‘Forest and ecosystem restoration for the next Mediterranean generations’.

Forest degradation

The Mediterranean region includes more than 88 million hectares of forest area. However, this vast portion of land is degrading at an alarming speed due to climate change effects and population increase.

Cooperation amongst policymakers, academics, the private sector, civil societies, youth and other relevant stakeholders is critical to tackle this challenge.

Mediterranean Forest Week will be also the opportunity to officially endorse the submission of the Mediterranean region represented by four countries – Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey – as a World Restoration Flagship in the context of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

“The Mediterranean region has strong potential to be selected as a future World Restoration Flagship because of its significant ongoing restoration efforts,” said Christophe Besacier, FAO Forestry Officer and Coordinator of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism.

“Lessons learned from the region could be transferred to countries outside the Mediterranean that are characterized by strong relationships between forests and tourism.”

Other topics under discussion next week will be the social and cultural dimension of Mediterranean forests, the relationship between wild forest products and sustainable food systems, and environmental opportunities presented by the European Union (EU) Green Deal, Ecological Transition and New EU Forest Strategy.

The 7th Mediterranean Forest Week is co-organized by FAO's Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions-Silva Mediterranea in partnership with the General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey and additional partners.


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