On July 1, 2013, Croatia formally entered the European Union as its 28th member state. Seven months earlier the Adriatic Model Forest project was launched. The project aims to create a new Model Forest in Dalmatia and lay the groundwork for additional Model Forests in other countries around the Adriatic. The project is funded under the European IPA Adriatic Cross–Border Programme.
Today, the people in the Adriatic are concerned with a wide range of challenges—improving biodiversity, improving livelihoods, increasing forest yields, eco-tourism impacts, climate change effects, increasing the use of renewable energies and environmentally friendly building materials.
Cooperation in the Adriatic area is also important given the desire of many countries to increase stability and create stronger integration amongst themselves and the rest of Europe; and support economic growth and sustainable development in a region that saw prolonged conflict only 20 years ago.
The Adriatic Model Forest project aims to implement the Model Forest concept in various countries of Southeast Europe. Croatia already has a Model Forest in development, the Mirna River Model Forest in the Istria region.
The Mirna River Model Forest was initiated by the Croatian Forest Research Institute who saw in the Model Forest concept an approach that combines inclusive reflection and dialogue with concerted and concrete action and provides a multi-faceted linkage between national and international policy-making and field operations.
The Croatian Forest Research Institute and the Mediterranean Model Forest Network Secretariat, along with other partners, have taken the lead in the development of the new Model Forest in Dalmatia. They are co-coordinating a process that not only sees the development of a second Croatian Model Forest but also a series of knowledge transfer events allowing regional partners to gain practical experience and best practices to begin to build Model Forests in their own countries. These partners include nine public institutions from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro and Serbia.
The Model Forest as a new tool of governance is recognized among the partnership as an answer to promote integrated landscape management in Southeast Europe.