How can foresters across the Greater Central Asian (GCA) region work together to translate the Astana Statement into concrete actions?
This was the focus of discussions during the recent 3rd Regional Workshop on Strategic Forestry Cooperation in the Greater Central Asia Region, held in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, from 28 to 30 June 2017.
Participants from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan attended the workshop
APFNet organized the workshop in partnership with the Kyrgyzstan State Agency of Environmental Protection and Forestry and the Institute for Regional Development to facilitate the exchange of ideas on furthering forestry development at economy and regional levels, laying the groundwork for key stakeholders to develop next steps.
At the workshop, economies suggested the following tentative priority areas for APFNet’s future activities in the region:
a) Capacity building;
b) Combating desertification;
c) Evaluation of forest ecosystem services;
d) Transboundary forest fire; and
e) Development of a forestry database.
As a regional organization dedicated to sustainable forestry management, APFNet has been active in the GCA region since 2014, supporting policy dialogue meetings, capacity building activities and research studies.
This work helps to shape the emerging regional forestry platform, strengthening the forestry sector’s ability to respond to profound global changes.
At the same time, awareness and demand for transboundary forest cooperation is steadily growing at the regional level, as reaffirmed by the Astana Statement.
The Astana Statement was agreed upon by ministers responsible for forestry in the GCA region at the first ministerial meeting held in Astana Kazakhstan in 2016. It identifies priority areas for forestry authorities and international organizations to advance regional forestry and better respond to global sustainable development agendas, serving as a roadmap for the talks on regional forestry cooperation.
Through activities such as increased emphasis on capacity building, combating desertification, evaluation of forest ecosystem services, transboundary forest fire prevention and development of a database of forestry information, the policy goals and objectives of GCA economies as framed in the Astana Statement can be successfully achieved.
The third day of the workshop consisted of a field trip to Issyk-Kul Forestry Farm
Thirty-two participants including senior forest officials, experts and representatives from local and regional organizations from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan attended the workshop.
At the workshop, it was agreed that the authorities of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan would designate a focal point to represent the individual economy for APFNet’s future activities.
It was also agreed that the subsequent Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry shall be organized back to back with the Regional Workshop on Strategic Forestry Cooperation, every two years. Kyrgyzstan will host the 2nd GCA Meeting of Ministers and 4th Regional Workshop on Strategic Forestry Cooperation in GCA in 2018.
Degradation and desertification in China
China has experienced large-scale degradation and desertification of forestlands. A total of 261.16 million hectares, equivalent to 27.2% of its total territory, is now subject to desertification.
The direct economic losses of this are approximately USD 14 billion per year, with sand and dust storms in northern China bringing losses of USD 8 billion per year alone.
Forestland degradation and desertification are related to overgrazing, deforestation, excessive and inefficient use of water resources, aridification of climate and droughts.
China’s experience with these issues is directly relevant to economies in the GCA region, with the Astana Statement providing a basis for tackling them through increased regional cooperation in forestry in the GCA region.