Research goals in place to improve the state of Mediterranean forests Experts have agreed on a research agenda to address problems being faced by forests around the Mediterranean. The region, defined as the triangle that links Mediterranean Europe with North Africa and the Middle East, needs more research, education and innovation to sustain the... Experts have agreed on a research agenda to address problems being faced by forests around the Mediterranean. The region, defined as the triangle that links Mediterranean Europe with North Africa and the Middle East, needs more research, education and innovation to sustain the ecosystems that generate the many products and services that contribute to national economies. The Mediterranean Forest Research Agenda (MFRA) is an initiative of the European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTP), and forms part of the FTP's overall Strategic Research Agenda (SRA). The 73 million hectares of unique natural heritage that constitute the Mediterranean's forests and woodlands are home to 25,000 species of vascular plants (half of which are endemic). The region is prized for both its goods (including firewood, cork, aromatic plants and truffles) and services (such as tourism and recreation activities), which are vital to the region's socioeconomic development. The future of these forests, however, is 'seriously endangered by climate and land-use changes', the MFRA notes. These threats 'add to long-lasting problems related to forest fires, forest over-exploitation and the advance of desertification in the region'. While the Mediterranean Regional Office of the European Forest Institute coordinated the project, stakeholders themselves were responsible for detailing the plan for the coming decade (2010-2020). A significant number of institutions from 15 Mediterranean countries were involved, including research and academic institutions, forest owners, non-governmental organisations, and international bodies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In overcoming current and future obstacles, the very nature of the region's topography calls for greater collaboration and interdependence. As such, the MFRA represents a common vision for the future of Mediterranean forests, and one that relies on joint effort. The experts identified four major issues that need to be addressed: (1) climate and land-use changes will impact forest ecosystems and the functions they serve to such an extent that they could become endangered; (2) the condition of recurrent wildfires requires a long-term policy aimed at both the causes of fire and containment strategies; (3) Mediterranean forests can provide diverse goods and services but better economic, policy and governance instruments are required; (4) new models, systems and processes are required for silviculture (tree growing and cultivation) and the multifunctional management of Mediterranean forests. The agenda details the research requirements for each of the four issues, and notes that existing gaps in knowledge need to be addressed through integrated activities, such as data sharing, improving research capacities, and better integration of non-European scientists and institutions into European projects. 'MFRA represents a bold step forward in networking and coordinating research,' the publication notes. The agenda 'should be implemented through joint research projects involving adjacent and emerging disciplines, and other types of activities related to networking, capacity building, higher education programmes, knowledge transfer and long-life learning. This will be crucial for establishing a Mediterranean forestry knowledge triangle of research, education and innovation that will play a key role in a sustainable Mediterranean society'.