07.01.2021

‘Learning from one another’ – sustainable forest protection in Central America

Forestry scientist Jan Bock has been working for GIZ in El Salvador for the past three years. With his team, he supports the sustainable protection of forests.

Forests fulfil important functions in the ecosystem, such as regulating the climate and preventing floods and soil erosion. And they provide habitats for numerous animals and plants. Yet forests are diminishing continually worldwide, with over 7.6 million hectares of woodland disappearing every year – much of this in tropical and sub-tropical regions to make way for more farmland.

To preserve and rebuild these forest landscapes, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports the governments in the different regions in their efforts to enshrine forest protection and restoration measures in law. Alongside safeguarding biodiversity, the aim is to provide better protection for the rights of indigenous populations. And healthy forest ecosystems can also help mitigate the effects of climate change.

It is this conviction that drives forestry scientist Jan Bock in his work. Since 2017, he has been leading two natural resource management projects, working with his 20-strong team to protect and restore forests in eight countries in Central America and the Caribbean. ‘Tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity and the rights of indigenous people – many of these major issues can only be solved through sustainable forest management,’ he explains.

Enabling networking and sharing experiences

To support countries in their efforts to develop and implement their forestry strategies and build funding mechanisms, Jan Bock is always on the move. He and his team advise representatives of forestry institutes and ministries and develop training courses on methods for restoring ecosystems and devising appropriate financing strategies. This knowledge is also disseminated via a platform of the Central American Commission for Environment and Development. One of the projects’ key goals is to network the participating countries with one another and encourage them to share their experiences: ‘We want to help the countries of Central America and the Caribbean to learn from one another,’ says Bock.

A lover of music and nature, he spends his free time in El Salvador too. Whether up in the mountains or down on the coast, the smallest country in Central American has plenty to offer in the way of landscapes and culture. Making friends was easy for him from the start: ‘If you are open, can speak Spanish and have a sense of humour, you soon build up a good relationship with people in El Salvador!’

Read more about Jan Bock’s day-to-day work in akzente, the GIZ magazine.

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