A Project “Assessment and monitoring of forest resources in the Republic of Uzbekistan” of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan was launched in early 2016 and in the framework of the fixed goals a number of activities are being carried out. Recently a series of trainings and workshops have took place in Tashkent, where international experts trained project specialists and agencies specialized in forestry. The training program was designed for technical specialists of the project and its aim is to teach how to work with the available GIS (geographic information systems) and RS (Remote sensing) resources. International experts have shown and taught project specialists how to collect, visualize and analyse data, classify objects, produce maps, process space images, store and process big geographic and other data properly, etc.
The partnership between Uzbekistan and FAO has been evolving since the country joined the Organization in 2001, and it was recently strengthened with the opening of a Representation in 2014 and the signing of a Host Country Agreement. Delivered through national as well as regional projects, technical assistance has covered a wide range of areas, including diversification of cropping systems, livestock production and disease control, locust control activities and increased fisheries production. Sustainable natural resources management is also one of the key areas of current cooperation, where forestry is one of the relevant sectors of the national economy in this area.
The French poet François-René de Chateaubriand wrote: "Forests precede civilizations and deserts follow them". In fact, the unreasonable human activities can put the Mother Nature to the brink of environmental disasters, an impact of which (especially on humankind) is hard to imagine. Uzbekistan is a country that makes efforts to respond to the challenge of loss of forests and their resources, clearly sees it on its own example, and understands the importance of adoption of urgent measures for conservation of forests.
Forests are the lungs of the planet. The global situation with forests worldwide shows that in spite of attempts to conserve forest cover, international community continue to lose forests. Humanity loses its lungs! Thus, with a view to the current trends it is necessary to adopt urgent and effective measures to prevent the loss of forests, raise awareness regarding the vital importance of forests, reforestation, and carry out activities aimed at restoration of forests and enhancement of responsible forest management for the benefit of local communities and the country as a whole.
Forests are of global significance because of their diverse contribution to the well-being of humankind. Forests provide essential wood products helping to raise the standard of living in rural areas, ensure food security, provide income-generating resources for a decent living, and deliver vital long-term environmental services, such as clean air and water, biodiversity and climate change mitigation.
Forests and woodlands perform a number of important ecological roles, such as biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, prevention of soil degradation and desertification, recreation and rehabilitation (tourism, camping). However, carbon sequestration is the main role of forests from ecological point of view that help to mitigate climate change. Recently, forestry have paid a lot of attention to creation of forest plantations in urban and peri-urban areas. For most of the countries in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, environmental roles of forests and woodlands are more important than their productive roles. Many forest areas in Uzbekistan have the status of protected natural areas whose use is limited.
Forests are the cradle of biodiversity. All types of modern cultivated plants have evolved from their wild relatives that can be found in forests and wildlife. Thus, it is crucial to protect forests, understand and remember that forest conservation and sustainable use of forest resources can be one of the principal guarantors of food security. Forest cover is critically important for the countries located in the arid climate zone, one of which is Uzbekistan.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) identified sustainable forest management as one of the focal points in the relevant area of environment protection.
This project, initiated by the General Directorate of Forestry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan, was launched in February 2016. Since then, in the framework of the project four activities were carried out regarding institutional and individual capacity building of experts and staff of relevant organizations. In future, project specialists will follow a number of trainings in order to develop practical skills in the area of new technologies, fieldwork and its use, and consolidation of knowledge and experience shared by international specialists in this field. The project is aimed to monitor and assess the country’s forest and wood resources, prepare a report on the state of the sector, and make proposals for the further modernization of the forest management in order to preserve the invaluable genetic material, ensure economic stability in the regions situated in forest zone, and raise the living standards of the local inhabitants that live near forest areas and on the border between forests and flatlands.
Sustainable management of forestry fund lands and wood resources requires an adequate and reliable data about the level and state of existing resources and changes occurred over time. Given the available data, the project will develop a detailed map of the forest cover, assess the current state of the forest sector, analyse the changes that took place over time. The obtained results will help to make a forecast and to develop strategies for forest conservation and sustainable development of the forest sector.
The last inventory of all forests across the country took place in Uzbekistan in 1978. Due to the lack of qualified personnel, funds and lack of coordination between various agencies related to forests and forest resources mainly there had been no complete inventory of forests for over the past thirty years.
In the past, data on forest resources was mainly focused on timber (wood), whereas today more and more of this information extends beyond the borders of forests, and should be more integrated with the information about other types of land use and management of natural resources. This information, for example, can be used as an indicator of biodiversity, hydrology, soil conservation, watershed management, urban and rural planning. Agencies, decision makers and other stakeholders may use the information about forests in order to enhance effectiveness of forests in mitigating climate change impact, and in providing other essential ecosystem services.
Need for information about forests has increased. If at the beginning only the data about forest areas was needed, then it became necessary to include information for exchanges, other key aspects of sustainable forest management, such as biodiversity and ecosystem services. Finally, recently information on carbon stocks, socio-economic issues and the broader issues of governance and land use, including the contribution of forests to improve the standard of living, have become necessary.
The proposed monitoring and assessment system will promote conservation and sustainable use of forest resources, including forest biodiversity with the help of adequate information based on the actual data. This will contribute to development of policies and decision-making on forest conservation and use of forest resources in Uzbekistan. As a result, it will allow the country to use capacities of forest and wood resources more efficiently in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits. At the same time, it will contribute to improvement of the living standards of rural population that depends on forests, and will also help the country to fulfil its obligations regarding reporting requirements under international conventions, in particular the Conventions to Combat Desertification, on Climate Change and on Conservation of Biological Diversity.
The main issues addressed in the framework of this project are:
A number of laws aimed at nature protection were adopted in the Republic of Uzbekistan, such as the law “on Forest”, “on Nature Protection”, “on Protected Areas”, “on Protection and use of flora”, “on Protection and use of fauna”, on “Air protection”, etc.
Thanks to availability of new technologies and more economically effective approaches to forest assessment, the Government of Uzbekistan took a decision to carry out a global assessment of forests and wood resources at the national level. This will allow the country to obtain necessary data in order to develop a forestry policy and make decisions, as well as prepare data needed to fulfil international reporting requirements, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Forest Resources Assessment (UNFRA), etc.
Sustainability of the results will be achieved by using the capacities and data obtained within the project in other projects and initiatives. For example, they can be used in oncoming project of SGP/FAO on sustainable forest management in mountains and valleys of Uzbekistan, in International Climate Initiative - Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI), in Programs of FAO on Forest Partnerships, and partners in the area of development on future programs and projects to support forestry.
This technical proposal is aimed at introduction of the new data collection system in Uzbekistan, including all new requirements to the data, as well as enhancement of transparency and consistency of the international standards in the process of reporting. The results of this project will contribute to mainstreaming the efforts of the Government and opportunities for successful implementation of environmental programs and other nature protection initiatives in the country.
Representative office of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the
United Nations (FAO) in the Republic of Uzbekistan
100140, Tashkent region, Qibray district, Universitetskaya st.2, Uzbekistan
Tel.:+998 71 260 44 41, Fax: +99871 260 43 12, E-mail:email@example.com
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