INFORMED, “INtegrated research on FOrest Resilience and Management in the mEDiterranean”

Mediterranean forests are complex social-ecological systems characterized by an important biodiversity, high levels of spatial environmental heterogeneity, and a long history of deep interlinking with human populations to which they provide a bunch of ecosystem services. Mediterranean forests are also considered as a hotspot of global change impacts and they deserve a research project on resilience not only for their own sake but also for the model value they represent for other areas.

Facing the scientific challenges of the Mediterranean Forest Research Agenda 2010-2020, the project INFORMED (INtegrated research on FOrest Resilience and Management in the mEDiterranean) is conducted by a consortium of 15 partners from 10 countries from both sides of the Mediterranean, combining well-balanced multidisciplinary expertise in ecology (genetics, functional ecology, community ecology), forest management, governance and economics. A scientific advisory group of international experts, including members from other Mediterranean Climate Areas, and a stakeholder panel representing various types of actors from all the participating countries contribute to achieve high level science and effective impacts. INFORMED develops a dynamic approach of the resilience of Mediterranean forests facing global change based on the following conceptual scheme: global change modifies the overall context of a social-ecological system where management drives the forest biodiversity and functions, which determine the ecosystem services; their economic assessment can support the governance system in selecting the more appropriate future management options. The project has three main scientific objectives:

  • to fill-in knowledge gaps on the basic mechanisms that determine the flexibility of the social-ecological system in response to disturbance;

  • to integrate knowledge by combining different process-based models at various spatial andtemporal scale;

  • to use integrated knowledge to develop management strategies as well as policy and governance guidelines to foster forest system resilience.

In particular, the project aims to produce global change scenarios specifically dedicated to the Mediterranean forests, to develop process-based approach of biodiversity and functional response of Mediterranean forests to disturbance, to develop integrated assessment of ecosystem services and their dynamics based on ecosystem functions and their economic evaluation, and to evaluate adaptive management strategies, policy and governance for their expected impact on resilience of Mediterranean forests.

To follow these goals, INFORMED uses research practices that favor meta-disciplinarity, beyond the segmentation between disciplines while recognizing their existence. Specific tools are developed for data sharing within and across disciplines following an open data strategy. Methods in model coupling allow to integrate multiple processes operating at different spatial or temporal scale. Benefiting from extended range of environmental and socio-economic conditions for the study of key species, complementarity of skills, and a long set of contrasted empirical data and models, the scope of the research is extended in order to address key issues about the impact of management options supported by different governance tools at local, national and international scale.

Beyond the three-years research activities, the project contributes to spread scientific expertise and exchange on innovative research practices within each discipline, to the development of interdisciplinary experience in the Mediterranean forest scientific community in the continuity of previous projects and to create strong “science-policy-practice” links between FORESTERA partners well connected to European and international networks. It consolidates a regional network of early stage researchers and enhances their capacity by linking them to leading researchers in the Mediterranean basin.