In the eight countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia, 28.8 million hectares of existing forests and other wooded land are particularly vulnerable to climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems. To address these challenges, these countries have made considerable efforts to develop national forest monitoring systems, advance sustainable forest management and restore degraded forest landscapes. UNECE has been working closely with countries in the region to support such efforts, including through country reports on the forest sector and forest resources.
Reliable data is a cornerstone of sustainable forest management, for which criteria and indicators need to be developed, tailored to each country’s specific forest sector. Following progress made on data collection for sustainable management of forests, UNECE has continued its work in the region through a capacity-building project “Accountability Systems for Sustainable Forest Management in the Caucasus and Central Asia” which supported Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to develop national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.
During the 78th session of the ECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry held on 6 November 2020, the five participating countries presented national sets of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, methodologies for data collection and plans for further implementation of the C&I at the national level.
Ms. Suzanna Seideeva, Chief Specialist, Department for the Development of Forest Ecosystems of the SAEPF of the Kyrgyz Republic who took part in this project, noted that “The national set of criteria and indicators will be a kind of navigator with which you can determine the next steps in forest policy”.
Mr. Roman Michalak, Economic Affairs Officer at the joint UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section who coordinated this project, said: “The development of the set of Criteria and Indicators is not an end in itself – rather, it is the beginning of the process to further progress towards sustainable forest management, including the development of national decision making systems, national forest inventories, information management and communication systems. The UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section stands ready to continue supporting countries in these efforts.”
In addition to sets of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, thematic guidelines and policy briefs, the project also contributed to the development of an overview of the first-ever comprehensive study on the state of forests in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and fostered cooperation and exchange of expertise within the region. Some of these materials, including the upcoming study on the national reporting on sustainable forest management, will be presented at the Conference on Monitoring and Restoration in the Caucasus and Central Asia that will be held virtually on 9 December 2020.
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