International Association for Mediterranean Forests - AIFM (France)


About the AIFM

Forests and other wooded lands submitted to a Mediterranean climate (which means warm and dry summers and wet winters) are grouped under the term "Mediterranean forests." Mediterranean forests vegetation may refer to many forms: scrubland with kermes oak, shrubland, green oak forest, cork oak forest, downy oak forest, Aleppo pine forest, cedar forest, inter alia.

Mediterranean forests cover about 75 million hectares in 25 countries around the Mediterranean Basin. Similar Mediterranean-type forests occur elsewhere in the world like in South Africa, Australia, Chile, United States and Mexico. Mediterranean forests have outstanding ecological particularities: great specific richness, endemic species pool, remarkable habitats. Forests around the Mediterranean Basin are particularly known as one of the biodiversity hotspots all over the world.

Mediterranean forests have always been a framework in which human activities take place (such as timber and cork exploitation, various non-timber products picking, grubbing, hunting, grazing, place for excursions, etc.). Therefore Mediterranean forests can be qualified as ecosociosystems. There is no clear separation between economic activity and natural environment: the dynamics of Mediterranean forests have always been closely linked to human societies that have grown up around it.

Mediterranean forests make up delicate balanced ecosystems. They have to face to multiple issues, like from case to case economically viable timber, cork and other non-timber production, flood and erosion prevention, bulwark against desertification, fire hazard, carbon sink, biodiversity conservation and valorisation, climate change effects mitigation, living environment and recreational function. Mediterranean forests are the object of many and sometimes conflicting expectations from various social and professional groups such as forest owners, breeders, farmers, environmental associations, elected representatives, planers, natural areas managers, public, etc.

In order to address these various issues the International Association for Mediterranean Forests (AIFM) has been created in 1996. The AIFM, based on a cross-field and multidisciplinary approach, aims to promote effective knowledge exchange with regard to critical ideas and experiences at international level. It works inter alia for developing and implementing decentralized cooperative initiatives.

This knowledge exchange aims to help formulating and solving problems encountered in Mediterranean forests management and use by shared discussion for a better valorisation of these woodlands, in areas of environment, sustainable development and land development planning. In such a way, the AIFM contributes to an enhanced consideration of specific issues related to Mediterranean forests in policies, decisions and concrete actions, at international, national, local and individual level.

The AIFM makes use of an existing network set up by national organisations, involving many sectors (foresters, academics, environmentalists, elected representatives, civil security, inter alia). The multidisciplinary base ensures a diversity of approach to the AIFM. The AIFM is currently involved in many projects, such as Euro-Mediterranean cooperation projects (MED projects), like for example Proforbiomed (promotion of forestry biomass), For Climadapt (forests adaptation to climate change effects) or QualiGouv (improving governance and quality of the forest management in protected areas), as well as in a partnership with the MAVA Foundation for nature or in the Model Forest project.

The AIFM is also founding member of the Collaborative Partnership on Mediterranean Forests (CPFM) which gathers together around twenty institutions concerned about actions coordination in favour of Mediterranean forests sustainable management. The FAO Mediterranean forests Committee Silva mediterranea serves as its secretariat.

On that score the AIFM has participated to the redaction of the State of Mediterranean Forests 2013 and to the preparation of a Strategic framework for Mediterranean forests. The AIFM co-organises as well the Mediterranean Forest Weeks; the first three have taken place in Antalya (Turkey, 2010), Avignon (France, 2011) and Tlemcen (Algeria, 2013).

AIFM objectives within the project: Mediterranean coordination and promotion activities

  • Development of communication tools (partnership coordination for the communication activities - WP2)
  • Organisation of international workshops and seminars to share European and Mediterranean experiences and their results on the specific topic of the use of forest biomass
  • Development of synergies with similar projects and international networks to enhance the added value of cooperation
  • Coordination and facilitation of the process undertaken by the CRPF in PACA region (national coordinator), in relation with the other two French Mediterranean regions and all key actors in the wood energy sector