The mountain areas of Western Balkan countries are predominantly covered by forests very rich in biodiversity, both in terms of flora and fauna of either global or European conservation importance. There are vast areas of still preserved, natural and semi-natural ecosystems providing benefits to both nature and people through the ecosystem services on which the majority of local communities still very much depend. Scattered relics of virgin forest still exist in remote areas, mountainous areas and wetlands, being the last refuge of these forests in Europe (Parviainen, 2005). Overall, forests in the region are experiencing a number of positive and negative trends. Both deliberate and natural afforestation on abandoned agricultural land have increased forest cover in some areas. The area classified as high conservation value forests (HCVFs) is increasing and improving the sustainable management of forests and their resources, including from the perspective of maintaining the flow of ecosystem services, prevention of soil erosion, and conserving threatened or endemic species. The conservation of forests for cultural, historical, or religious reasons is also advocated through HCVFs (Ioras et al., 2009), which also provide a buffer against illegal activities. In addition, declining rural populations and rural to urban migration, particularly from mountain areas, is resulting in fewer young people being involved in forestry and is placing less pressure on logging for household fuelwood. However, there is still concern in the region over the quality of the forests due to a history of coppicing and sub- standard management of both state-owned and privately-owned forests in some areas (Markus- Johansson et al., 2010), while factors such as illegal logging and corruption at various points in the value chain are thought to be hindering the forestry sector reaching its full potential.
From collection: Outlook on Climate Change Adaptation in the Western Balkan Mountains
GRID-Arendal and Cartografare il Presente/Nieves Izquierdo