In a nutshell
Among the most forested areas in France, the forests in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur are threatened by the risk of fire, growing urbanization and a reduction in traditional forest activities, pushing local stakeholders to re-examine the place and multifunctional role of regional forests.
The communities, businesses and associations in the region have come together to jointly promote the sustainable management of natural spaces through the development of the most emblematic large forests in Provence: Garlaban, Étoile, Sainte Baume and Maures.
The Provence Model Forest is looking to be a model for innovation and environmental performance, uniting all stakeholders in a common vision for the forests and the sharing of everyone’s knowledge and experience.
The territory of the Provence Model Forest, corresponding to 10% of the surface area of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is 61% covered by forest. To the west the subsoil is limestone, whereas to the east it is granitic. The landscapes are dominated by open forests (32%) and conifer seedling forests (23%).
The breakdown of forest properties in the Provence Model Forest represents a strong fragmentation, with 80% of the properties being privately owned and 20% being in the public domain. The territory covers 17,060 hectares of certified forest under the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes, 60% of which are in the form of community forests. The perimeter represents a biodiversity hotspot in the region and the French Mediterranean bioclimatic zone.
According to the National Forest Inventory, only 30% of the forest is deemed to be easily exploitable. Lumber and firewood are the largest forestry industries; there are also cork, beekeeping and chestnut-growing operations.
The Provence Model Forest is representative of the coastal region of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region where forest spaces are under pressure by human activities. The limited extent of agricultural lands and strong urban expansion are leading to a significant inter-relation between forests and artificial zones.
The expectations of residents and tourists regarding the region’s forests have evolved. Forests are increasingly seen as natural recreational spaces and less as production or exploitation zones. For some, social demand does not always seem compatible with certain economic interests and development issues.
The risk of fire is very high in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. This risk is even higher in coastal, peri-urban and tourist zones, such as the territory where the Provence Model Forest is located.
The association has selected a specific structure to guarantee compliance with the six principles governing any Model Forest. It is composed of three bodies:
- General Assembly. This is the association’s deliberating body. It meets once a year to approve the financial report, the activity report and the accounts from the previous fiscal year. Members are spread out in three groups:
- Stakeholders, managers and users;
- Research and education;
- Local communities;
It can also ask the board of directors to propose actions throughout the year or make the comments that seem necessary.
- Board of Directors. It is the “classic” body for associative management and is composed of the same groups as the General Assembly. It appoints an office to a six-year term composed of a secretary general and an assistant secretary general who represent the association in its relations with third parties and in all civil society actions, as well as a treasurer who ensures the association’s bookkeeping.
- Supervisory Board. This is the controlling body that ensures that the actions taken are compliant with the strategic orientations and the spirit of the International Model Forest Network.
- “New forest economy”;
- “Multifunctional management of peri-urban spaces”;
- “Welcoming of the public and local development”.
Key actions in place to reach these goals:
- Promotion of sustainable, multifunctional and joint forest management with the managers, owners and the general public;
- Development of the cork oak production (regeneration, status improvement for the wood and cork);
- Development of new non-timber forest products (pine nuts, chestnuts, foliage, arbutus-berries).
- Organization of six events for the general public (with major media coverage);
- Production of a booklet on “agroforestry in the forests of Provence”;
- Creation of awareness, training and analysis materials (reports, articles, symposiums, field visits, videos);
- Production of two feasibility studies (cork regeneration and pine nut production);
- Implementation of six economic and/or technical experiments.
- Thousands of non-professionals informed;
- Hundreds of professionals and future professionals informed and trained.