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Kyrgyz RepublicIn the Kyrgyz Republic, an Asian country along the Silk Road, 41 percent of the population relies on the forest for fuel, food and other products. Small communities that depend on the forest are especially vulnerable to mismanaged forests and poverty. The World Bank is partnering with the Kyrgyz Republic to develop a sustainable strategy for managing a major resource for the country and its rural populations.

Improving sustainable forest management is an important step for the Kyrgyz Republic in order to combat poverty. Data from the World Bank shows poverty in the Kyrgyz Republic decreased from 37 percent in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014. However, the country remains one of the poorest states in Central Asia.

A study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) reported the Kyrgyz Republic as an ecologically rich country. The total forested area in the Kyrgyz Republic is more than 1.1 million hectares, approximately five percent of the country.

The forests are highly diverse and include spruce, walnut-fruit, juniper and riverside forests. In addition to timber and fuel, the forests provide nuts, fruits, mushrooms and other edible plants for communities. Forest products also provide food security during tough economic and agricultural times.

Beginning in 2016, The Integrated Forest Ecosystem Management Project (IFEMP) will be implemented in partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic over five years. The World Bank is financing $16 million for the project, which targets forest management at the national and leskhoz level. The leskhozes are state forest farms or agencies managing at the local level.

In a press release, the World Bank said the IFEMP’s main objectives will be accomplished “through investments in management planning, ecosystem restoration and infrastructure.” Improved data collection and distribution is an important aspect of IFEMP. The project will update the National Forest Inventory and increase access to the information at all levels. Ultimately it is estimated IFEMP will improve the management of one-tenth of Kyrgyz forests and introduce sustainable forest management to almost half of all the forests.

According to the FAO study, “forests are potentially valuable to rural people as a means of income generation and, thus, poverty reduction.” Recent efforts focusing on sustainable forest management strategies aim to better serve both the environment and those in poverty.

In the World Bank’s press release, Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager in the Kyrgyz Republic, said, “We are pleased to support the project that will contribute to improving the lives of rural people by protecting and improving the natural resource base of forests and pastures on which the livelihoods and communities are dependent.”

Cara Kuhlman

Sources: FAO, IMF, World Bank 1, World Bank 2
Photo: Kygryzstan

lost forests
More than a dozen African nations and the World Bank have committed $1.6 billion to the restoration of 100 million hectares of the lost forests across Africa by 2030, combating climate change and poverty. The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, referred to as AFR100, is working to reverse the ravaging effects that deforestation has had on the landscape.

The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, referred to as AFR100, is working to reverse the ravaging effects that deforestation has had on the landscape.

The project is expected to improve soil quality and fertility, water resources, food security and biodiversity throughout the region. So far, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Uganda and Rwanda have pledged to restore more than 42 hectares of lost forests — an area larger than Germany.

AFR100 is expected to dramatically improve the region’s environmental health and prosperity. As a result, countries will benefit from increased land productivity and profitability.

Dr. Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources to the Associated Press that “With forest landscape restoration we’ve seen agricultural yields rise and farmers in our rural communities diversify their livelihoods and improve their wellbeing.”

The project comes on the tails of a successful forest restoration campaign in Ethiopia. During the Ethiopia initiative, one sixth of the nation’s land was restored, which is the equivalent of England and Wales combined.

Similarly, in Burkina Faso, more than 200,000 hectares of land has been restored, increasing food production by approximately 80,000 tons per year and feeding an additional 500,000 people.

Climate change expert and Green Belt Movement (GBM) International Director, Pauline Kamau told the Guardian that restoration of lost forests is key to the health and sustainability of the population.

“Africa is already experiencing some of the most dramatic extreme temperature events ever seen. Without action to reduce emissions, average annual temperatures on the continent are likely to rise 3-4C by the end of the century and [there could be] a 30% reduction in rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Kamau. “ Restoring degraded lands can both help rein in warming and adapt to higher temperatures.”

Climate change experts and the more than a dozen participants in AFR100 are excited for both the environmental and societal benefits. Wanjira Mathai, chair of the Green Belt Movement and daughter of the Nobel peace prize laureate Wangari Maathai, said, “Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins.”

Wanjira Mathai, chair of the Green Belt Movement and daughter of the Nobel peace prize laureate Wangari Maathai, said, “Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins.”

Claire Colby

Sources: Associated Press, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2
Photo: Flickr