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Development Account Projects

Sustainable forest management for greener economies in the Caucasus and Central Asia

Background:

When managed on a sustainable basis, a strong, healthy forest sector has a key role to play in the “greening” the economies as outlined in the Rio+20 outcome document. Using wood products to substitute for more carbon-intensive non-renewable materials and fossil fuels enhances that contribution. Additionally, forests perform an essential role in preventing environmental degradation (air and water pollution, soil erosion) and reducing the impact of natural disasters such as landslides, avalanches and flooding.
In the UNECE region, the role of forests is particularly acute for countries in transition, and especially in the Caucasus and Central Asia, to address environmental problems like soil erosion, pollution and climate change, which otherwise may impact heavily on communities and their livelihoods. Strengthening of the forest sector will enable countries to gain both environmental and economic benefits. To this end, forest sector policies and institutions need to be strengthened; provision of sustainable forest products need to be expanded including for renewable energy production.
There are numerous obstacles to achieving the full potential of the forest sector. Among these are illegal logging, poor governance, overcutting and overgrazing leading to forest degradation, deforestation and severe erosion. These are often compounded by weak information systems as well as obsolete policies and institutions. When the countries of this region gained independence in the early 1990’s, they did not have institutional frameworks in place for managing their forest resources. Unfortunately and for a variety of reasons, the relevant institutions remain fragile and suffer from a lack of staff qualified in policy for sustainable forest management. However, countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia are ready to develop and implement policies which will allow them to properly and sustainably capture the opportunities in the forest sector, in full respect of existing environmental legislation and international commitments. All of them are signatories to the Rio Conventions as well as participating in relevant UN processes which identify forests as a key biome for the mitigation of climate change and the conservation of biodiversity.

Objective:

To strengthen the national capacity of countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia to enhance the contribution of their forest sector to greener economies through sustainable forest management.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced knowledge of countries to develop policies for enhancing the forest sector’s contribution to greener economies
  • Improved capacity of countries to develop policies for enhancing the forest sector’s contribution to greener economies.

Implementation status:

In progress.