In collaboration with the Forestry Administration of Cambodia and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), APFNet organized the Workshop on Mainstreaming Degraded Forest Restoration into Forestry Strategic Plans in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 17 to 19 December 2014. This event is one of the activities proposed by APFNet in 2013 under the Platform for Regional Dialogue on Forestry Strategic Planning.
74 representatives from 14 economies (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, and Viet Nam) and 5 international/regional organizations (APFNet, FAO, IUCN , RECOFTC , and the Bagong Pagasa Foundation) attended the workshop.
The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to share best practices and lessons learned on methods to mainstream the restoration of degraded forests into forestry planning. It also took place in the context of several initiatives, such as APEC’s inspirational goal to increase forest cover by at least 20 million hectares by 2020, the Bonn Challenge and Aichi Target 15; as well as discussions during the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit in New York in September and the 20th UN Conference of Parties (COP) in Lima in December 2014.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Chheng Kimsun (Director General of the Forestry Administration of Cambodia) underlined the many challenges facing the forest sector as it seeks to rehabilitate degraded forests. In this regard, he expressed his strong commitment to help reverse current trends in the region. He also gave a keynote presentation entitled “Water and forests for life and development”, where he discussed the significance of rural livelihood in forest management and the importance of forests in water resource management.
Ms. Nina Brandstrup (FAO Representative, Cambodia office) expressed her desire to strengthen partnerships with APFNet, the Forestry Administration of Cambodia and other organizations to address gaps in policy, capacity building and technical expertise to further promote forest restoration in the region and beyond.
Mr. Qu Guilin (Executive Director of APFNet) noted that international attention on the restoration of degraded forests has increased amongst stakeholder groups including government and civil society. He explained that one of the main reasons for this focus is the growing recognition that healthy forest ecosystems are a prerequisite for the sustainable development and wellbeing of society. In addition, he reiterated APFNet’s committment to promote the restoration of degraded forests in the Asia-Pacific region through the Platform for Regional Dialogue on Forestry Strategic Planning.
Participants and experts then exchanged experiences and efforts in four sessions regarding: I) international initiatives; II) experiences and lessons learned; III) effective approaches to mainstream forest restoration into forestry plans; and IV) priority activities of the APFNet in 2015.
Recognizing the importance and challenges of restoring degraded forests, participants agreed to promote communication and further information sharing on the topic, including approaches to mainstream it into forestry strategic planning. They also agreed to undertake the APFNet Platform for Regional Dialogue on Forestry Strategic Planning as a vehicle to strengthen collaboration.
Following the sessions, the group visited two sites in Siem Reap to learn about successful restoration techniques and challenges in the field. The first site was developed under a project funded by the Korean Government while the second site held a community forestry project funded by the APFNet. Participants also planted trees on the sites.