The Model Forest (MF) concept is based on an innovative approach that combines the social, cultural and economic needs of local communities with the long-term sustainability of forest landscapes. A Model Forest is a partnership of public and private organizations that have a common interest in achieving sustainable forest management (SFM) within a locally defined forest area. Model Forests range in size from 14,000 hectares to more than 20 million hectares.

The International Model Forest Network (IMFN) is a voluntary association of partners (countries and organizations) from around the world working toward a common goal, which is the sustainable management and use of forests and forested landscapes. Each MF in the network is unique by virtue of its ecosystems, history of resource use, and the cultural and political realities that are in place. However, all model forests are based on a common set of principles. It is on this basis that sites in the IMFN share knowledge, collaborate, and learn together in support of sustainability. The network currently has 49 sites in 22 countries. The model forest concept falls also well within the working programme of the Forestry Department of FAO. In this respect and along with the IMFN and other partners, FAO continues to support members in the identification of potential future model forests and in further developing the concept including the establishment of regional model forest networks. The Regional Government of Castilla y León has been working for years towards sustainable forest management, through the development of different initiatives such as certification, sustainable entrepreneurship support, research funding and others. The sharing and contrasting of experiences with peers has proved to be of great value.

The Castilla y León´s 2002-2027 Regional Forest Plan includes a participation in the IMFN as a means a) to improve the sustainability of its forest management standards, and b) for doing this, expose its plan and activity to the assessment of peers and learn from them. With the recent foundation of the Urbión Model Forest in Castilla y León, also the IMFN disembarks in the Mediterranean area, which has very specific characteristics and dynamics. Mujer de TunezAmong them, the relevance of regional and local governments in forest management, the reality of impacts caused by climate change and the importance to the region of such critical issues as non-timber forest products and services, bioenergy, natural hazards (forest fire and others) and forests dynamics in relation to human activities (abandonment, urban growth into forests and others), with very distinctive features across the whole area shared between the northern and southern rims.

It is also necessary, and participants have expressed their will to do so, to take into account the different integration and cooperation initiatives that are present in the Mediterranean region:

  • the political, mainstream processes conducted by FAO: COFO and Silva Mediterranea
  • other processes such as the Barcelona Process or the Mediterranean Union
  • other networks and networking activities, mainly the existing World Heritage sites

On 20 March 2007, a workshop was held by the Urbión Model Forest with the participation of a group of regional governments, forest owners associations and others from the Mediterranean area, with the support of managers from IMFN regional networks. This workshop, and further ones held in 11-13 July 2007 in Rome (Italy) and 19-20 December in Marseille (France), was aimed at presenting the MF concept and characteristics of the IMFN, and receiving feedback and strategic orientation concerning the feasibility of Mediterranean model forests and a Mediterranean Model Forest Network (MMFN).


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Model Forest ToolkitThe Model Forest Toolkit is a series of documents produced by the IMFNS to provide guidance to new and existing Model Forests. The toolkit is available in English, French, Spanish and Russian.

IMFN Connections

ConnectionsConnections is a theme-based newsletter produced twice yearly by the IMFN Secretariat on behalf of the Network membership

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