In a nutshell
Region of Istria has signed a Memorandum of understanding in the year 2008 and become a member of the International Model Forest Network.
“Model Forest Istria” was established in the year 2013 with 38 founders as a legal, non-profit association and has become a member of the Mediterranean Network in the year 2014.
Partnership of the Model Forest consists of municipalities and cities, public institutions, private and public businesses, associations and individuals.
All activities that preceded the registration of the association “Model Forest Istria” have been done in the period between 2009 and 2012 through the project of the European programme for territorial cooperation MED “Model Forest – new tool for territorial governance” that included regions of the Northern rim of the Mediterranean.
Strategic Plan of our MF highlights main fields of activities:
- Forestry, hunting and renewable energy resources
- Agriculture, cattle breeding and sustainable management
- Non-wood forest products
- Rural tourism
- Education, communications and nature protection
During the time, significant areas of activities were identified:
- Education for sustainable development; forest pedagogy
- Non wood forest products protection and valorisation
- Development of the socio-cultural and touristic activities, products and service
in the territory of the MF
"Model Forest Istria" is located in the north-western part of the Istrian peninsula. Administratively, it belongs to the Region of Istria, and it expands over the territory of 4 cities and 10 Municipalities.
Landscape of the MF is very diverse and covers river Mirna flow, highland area of Cicaria mountain, and lower areas with hills and villages known for vine production and valuable truffle habitats.
“Model Forest Istria“encompasses a total surface of 116.200 ha or 1.162 square km. This area comprises of 242 settlements and has a population of 39.335 inhabitants; the average population density is 42 inhabitants per square km. Forests occupy a surface of 66.556 ha.
The ratio of forest owners in the Model Forest area is 4:1 for the private forest owners compared to state-owned forests. We can conclude that forested land on the territory of the Model Forest amounts to 57% of the total land.
In the last 40 years, pastures and agricultural land is being abandoned which leads to an increase in forested surfaces. This is especially true for the highland territories from where the population has migrated to bigger urban areas. Among other things, the Model Forest is confronted with a big challenge of finding the right tools and solutions to return such surfaces to their basic purpose of making an income for the local population.
The Model Forest “Model Forest Istria” was created in order to contribute to the sustainable management of the Model Forest Istria flow in cooperation with all competent institutions and stakeholders, and in such a way, preserve all significant surrounding ecosystems and valuable forest products.
In the lower lands and river basin the most important forest resource is a white truffle that makes Istria and a Model Forest a World destination for this gastronomical and endemic natural resource. All species of the black truffle and a white truffle are intensively harvested by the local population and do present a main economic income to the rural population.
In a last decade, truffle habitats are getting devastated and species more endangered due to non- sustainable harvesting.
Model Forest is advocating truffle protection and organizes campaigns for the protection and valorisation of truffle species and truffle habitats. MF communicates significant importance of this resource and its biological value to wide public.
Besides projects focused on sustainable use of non-wood forest products, MF develops education activities in own territory by promoting and implementing forest pedagogy.
Educators of the association are skilled forest pedagogues and are creating workshops for children and also lectures for teachers and experts in the field of forest pedagogy and environmental education. Representative of the association is a member of the EU Group on Forest pedagogy that makes a part of the Forest Communication Network that promotes education for sustainable development. So the materials and methods that are used with children and teachers in our workshops makes a significant part of the education for the sustainable development.