Forest Landscape Restoration in the Caucasus and Central Asia
Forest Landscape Restoration in the Caucasus and Central Asia
Restoring degraded and deforested land by 2030

Challenges


Landscape degradation is one of the main environmental challenges in the Caucasus and Central Asia. According to a 2016 paper by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative,1 land degradation in Central Asia is extensive, affecting 4 to 10 percent of cropland, 27 to 68 percent of pastureland and 1 to 8 percent of forests. In Armenia, national data show that 70 percent of forest land is degraded. The impact of climate change further exacerbates the biophysical and socio-economic factors that drive the degradation of land and natural resources. A 2019 study from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the state of forests of the Caucasus and Central Asia2 showed that the priorities for the forest sector are forest landscape restoration, the maintenance and restoration of existing forests, the reduction of illegal logging and overgrazing, as well as the identification and application of best practices in forest management. Political support is crucial to this work. It is therefore necessary to provide a public platform for political commitments on this topic in order to enhance and scale up forest landscape restoration in support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on climate action and Goal 15 on life on land.

Towards a Solution


The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to restore 150 million ha of deforested and degraded land by 2020, and 350 million ha by 2030. It serves as an open, voluntary platform to discuss and exchange ideas for concrete action and cooperation to facilitate forest landscape restoration around the world. Achieving the Bonn Challenge goal would result in the sequestration of at least 12 Gt of carbon dioxide between 2011 and 2030. In addition to reversing degradation, forest landscape restoration would help to improve productivity and landscape resilience, thereby providing environmental services that benefit people and biodiversity.

The project helped to accelerate progress on the relevant SDGs through the exchange of experiences, peer learning, brainstorming and the transfer of good practices and knowledge among participating countries. It also produced and distributed relevant studies on forest landscape restoration in the region. UNECE and FAO raised awareness of the Bonn Challenge among member States from the Caucasus and Central Asia, with support from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) The parties also participated in a dialogue at regional meetings with relevant stakeholders, including those from academia and non-governmental organizations, and representatives from each country contributed by sharing their specific national perspectives.

The project contributed to the sustainable management of all types of forests by halting deforestation, supporting the restoration of degraded forests and increasing afforestation and reforestation. It also supported mobilizing financial resources from all sources for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems. A ministerial round table on forest landscape restoration led to a publication entitled ‘Forest Landscape Restoration in the Caucasus and Central Asia’, which a single country could not have produced on its own. The high-level meeting also created momentum that resulted in pledges by Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to restore over 2.5 million ha of forest landscape under the Bonn Challenge. Azerbaijan also joined the Bonn Challenge in 2019, bringing the total of restoration pledges in the region to almost 3 million ha.

This innovative good practice also led to the adoption of the Astana Resolution, the first regional resolution to strengthen partnerships and cooperation on forest landscape restoration, which improves the competitive advantage of participants by aligning national goals and priorities.

This good practice is sustainable because it led to long-term commitments under the Bonn Challenge and other cooperation agreements, such as the Astana Resolution. Further regional integration efforts will persist long after the framework of these agreements expires.

This good practice has already been extended to Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and can be extended to Central Europe through the ECCA30 regional initiative, which was launched in September 2019 to restore 30 million ha of degraded and deforested land in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia by 2030.

Contact Information

Name: Mr Gianluca Sambucini Title: Acting Chief Organization: Joint Forestry and Timber Section from the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Supported by

Germany (donor)

Countries involved

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Implementing Entities

Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Project Status

Completed

URL of the practice

www.unece.org/forests/areas-of-work/capacity-building.html

Primary SDG

15 - Life on Land

Secondary SDGs

13 - Climate Action
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