The AIFM is an international and interdisciplinary non-governmental organization founded in 1996, headquartered in France and with members and activities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is dedicated to the coordination of networks, development of projects, active promotion of knowledge, sustainable management and protection of Mediterranean forest ecosystems.
The high ecological value of some Mediterranean forest and wooded areas results from the interaction between many natural and human factors, following a very complex dynamic that has been ongoing since Neolithic times. Human intervention via the traditional agro-forestry-pastoral uses included grazing from many livestock species (sheep, goats, cattle, pigs), tillage of soil and mixed cultivation schemes for variable periods, voluntary fires, and the exploitation (or even overexploitation) of wood and non-wood products. This interaction has resulted in very diverse and resilient ecosystems, which make extraordinary “biological comebacks” when human pressure is reduced. With the abandonment of traditional land use systems and shift towards intensive agriculture and permanent urban expansion, coupled with climate change effects, this dynamic has changed negatively. Identifying sites of high ecological value, where the natural and human effects come together, to monitor their evolution and promote their protection is therefore important.
An example of the type of projects developed and managed by the AIFM is the project MEDFORVAL, “Network of forested areas of High ecological value”. The aim of this project was to create a collaboration and network platform between practitioners and decision-makers, focused on concrete actions to protect, manage or restore Mediterranean forest sites of high ecological value. The network (currently) includes nearly 20 sites in 12 different countries of the Mediterranean basin, covering different ecosystems, land uses and environmental conditions. To facilitate the exchange of know-how and the development of projects and actions, these are clustered in four types of forest and woodland sites: High Mountain Conifer Forests, Mountain Mixed Deciduous Forests, Lowland Dry Evergreen Forests, and Freshwater Forests.