I am very pleased to welcome you to this scientific congress within the framework of the IUFRO Task Force Forest Restoration and Adaptation under Global Change. The Task Force is dedicated to integrating the existing knowledge about forest landscape restoration and forest adaptation to climate change and changing societal demands. The Mediterranean regions are one of the ‘hot spots’ of ongoing climate change worldwide. Thus, this congress will provide highly important insights and information that will help to adapt forest landscapes to the great challenges of the future.
Restoring forest ecosystems is an increasingly important task for forest science globally, where an estimated 2 billion hectares are degraded. Additionally, climate change, particularly extreme weather events, increases the need for active restoration. Urbanization, rising income and consumption levels, and other social disruptions present contradictory pressures on use of forest land. This conference provides the ideal platform to bring together researchers, managers, and policy makers to discuss these challenges for Mediterranean regions and share experience of what works and perhaps more importantly, the limitations of past experience in addressing future problems. The IUFRO Research Group on Restoration of Degraded Sites is pleased to help further these discussions.
This congress represents the first international congress organized by the Italian Society of Forest Restoration (ISFR) jointly with other international institutions. Its organization has been strongly urged by ISFR to discuss about the principles and technical aspects which must drive forest adaptation and restoration, particularly in Mediterranean regions where the effects of global risk to affect irremediably this natural resource. Moreover, the congress ambition is also to draw attention to the fact no worldwide bio-economy could be build if sustainable forest management does not become the central item in the political agenda of all the governmental executives.
The Mediterranean forests are rapidly changing due to abandonment in many areas or to the increasing human impact in others, but also to the spread of alien plant species and pathogens. In this context, restoration, sustainable management and conservation of forests play a central role in enhancing ecosystem services for us and the future generations. The Italian Botanical Society is very pleased to contribute to the interdisciplinary discussions proposed in this Congress, based on plant species distribution, ecology and ecosystem functioning and on the vegetation responses to rapidly changing environmental conditions.
The University of Palermo has a long standing commitment to environmental issues, with research and teaching initiatives focused on biodiversity conservation and climate change impacts, ecosystems services, restoration ecology, forest management and sustainable landscaping. These activities primarily involve the Botanic Garden of Palermo University, which is especially engaged to promote habitat protection, ensure public awareness, and foster full involvement of local and international stakeholders. The University is therefore proud to host this meeting and offer its support to the challenging debate on Mediterranean forest management.
Forests are very important in the Mediterranean context for their fundamental environmental, social, economic and cultural role. Forests in the Mediterranean area have been heavily impacted in the past by human activity and are now facing new challenges posed by climate and social changes. An increased effort is needed, both on the scientific and operational level, to develop management approaches that help Mediterranean forests increase their resilience and their adaptability to an uncertain future. This is one of the priorities of the Italian Academy of Forest Sciences and it is a pleasure to contribute to the discussion on these very relevant topics.