For the second time under the UNECE/FAO project “Accountability Systems for Sustainable Forest Management in the Caucasus and Central Asia”, Kyrgyz stakeholders met to advance their national criteria and indicator set for sustainable forest monitoring. This exercise is especially important as Kyrgyzstan is currently in the process of adapting a national development strategy which also addresses environmental safety, climate change adaption, ecological sustainability and forests. To monitor progress a forest monitoring system is essential.
Before the UNECE/FAO project was launched in 2016, only a couple of specialists and researchers worked on the criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in Kyrgyzstan. Today we look at a different picture; the Kyrgyz State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry was very active in the past year and ran several consultation rounds on the draft criteria and indicator set. The results were now further consulted in a participatory multi-stakeholder workshop held in Bishkek 25-26 April 2018.
A national set of indicators is a modern forest policy tools that stimulates communication within and outside of the forest sector. “An active and participatory process is vital for the success as consultation, consensus forming and inclusion of stakeholders brings quality and above all ownership”, said Christopher Prins, an international expert on forests and forest monitoring systems.
The project is of great importance to Kyrgyzstan’s national forest policy while at the same time stimulating the active participation of the country in international forest-related processes like the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests and the Global Forest Resource Assessment. Under the same project UNECE and FAO are also supporting Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to develop a national criteria and indicator set by providing a platform for exchange among national and international experts as well as facilitating the national processes.
Kyrgyzstan is a low forest cover country. Yet the forests are of great socio-economic value to the population as they provide firewood for heating and cooking, and non-wood forest products like fruits and nuts, which are a source of income. Kyrgyzstan is home to the world’s largest wild growing nut forests. Other major forest types are Juniper, conifer and riparian (Tugai) forests. However, Kyrgyzstan’s forests are under pressure, mainly due to uncontrolled pasture, causing heavy overgrazing and desertification, and logging for firewood.