Mediterranean forests are one of the five largest forests in the world and the largest non-tropical forests. They play a vital role locally and globally.
Biodiversity: Mediterranean forests are recognized as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They provide habitat for numerous plant and animal species, many of which are endemic and found nowhere else. These forests support a diverse array of flora and fauna, contributing to global biodiversity and preserving unique genetic resources.
Climate regulation: Mediterranean forests have a significant impact on local and regional climate regulation. They act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and storing it in biomass and soil. By reducing greenhouse gas concentrations, these forests help mitigate climate change and contribute to global carbon sequestration efforts.
Soil protection and erosion control: The vegetation cover of Mediterranean forests helps protect the soil from erosion caused by wind and water. The roots of trees and plants bind the soil together, preventing soil degradation and loss. The presence of forests also helps regulate water flow, reducing the risk of flooding and promoting water infiltration into the ground.
Water resources: Mediterranean forests are essential for water resource management. They play a crucial role in maintaining the hydrological cycle by capturing rainfall and replenishing groundwater sources. Forests act as natural sponges, retaining water and releasing it gradually, thus contributing to water availability during dry seasons and regulating river flows.
Ecosystem services: Mediterranean forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services that benefit human well-being. They contribute to air purification by filtering pollutants, provide shade and cooling, and create a pleasant and healthy environment. Forests also offer aesthetic and spiritual values, inspiring artists, poets, and individuals seeking tranquility and connection with nature.
Cultural and recreational value: Mediterranean forests have cultural significance for local communities. They are often intertwined with traditional practices, folklore, and cultural heritage. These forests offer recreational opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and wildlife observation, attracting visitors and promoting ecotourism.
Economic value: Mediterranean forests have significant economic importance. They provide valuable timber and non-timber forest products such as cork, resins, medicinal plants, and edible mushrooms. Forest-based industries, including wood processing and tourism, contribute to local economies and employment opportunities.
It is crucial to conserve and sustainably manage Mediterranean forests to ensure their continued benefits for present and future generations.