A treasured environment
The Mediterranean basin is already home to more
than 500 million people and is host to millions of tourists every
year. What happens in one part of the Mediterranean will have
an effect on another. Land use patterns have shaped Mediterranean
landscapes and societies over the millennia to how we know them
today. Sustainable societies and their development hinge on new
ways to reconcile socio-economic productivity and the environment.
International research co-operation in the Mediterranean Sea area
offers a knowledge-based approach to planning and managing environmental
resources; when examining the merits of potential projects, their
impact on the whole ecosystem is taken into account.
INCO's activities touch on many areas including
coastal resource management, sustainable tourism and leisure,
forestry, conservation, and grazing and land management practices.
All work comes back to the mantra of environmental sustainability,
and projects are expected to provide local benefits that are benign
and indeed valuable to the Mediterranean as a whole. The built
environment is also being cared for through a number of projects
designed to preserve and maintain important sites of cultural
heritage, along with research into prevention of damage due to
Changing land use forever
Forestry and grazing has put pressure on
land in the Western Mediterranean region, resulting in problems
such as soil degradation and water depletion. The Medchange project
investigated changes made by man (and the prevailing natural conditions)
in Morocco, Tunisia and the Iberian Peninsula, and assessed possible
future trends for land use. The results will be used to direct
sustainable development policies in rural areas and will help
in the conception and implementation of land management practices.
Cedars branch out
A study of cedars in Turkey, Morocco and
Lebanon will lead to commercially sustainable exploitation of
the tree as a crop. Scientists have completed a biodiversity audit
of different cedar types and carried out tests to find the most
appropriate type for production. The next step is to establish
an environmentally friendly production system which can safeguard
and enrich the natural biodiversity of production areas. Social,
as well as biological considerations are being taken into account,
through consultation with NGOs, ministries and commercial stakeholders.