Sustainable and climate sensitive land use for economic development in Central Asia
Title: Regional programme for sustainable and climate sensitive land use for economic development in Central Asia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Overall term: 2016 to 2019
Central Asia is suffering more than most other regions of the world from the consequences of climate change. 80 per cent of the territory of Central Asia is arid land. Continued expansion of deserts and arid areas are predicted, along with above-average increases in temperature and water shortages. Natural resources such as pasture, forests and wildlife are already scarce and have been placed under considerable strain due to inappropriate exploitation. The region is affected by a lack of awareness about, or application of strategies for the sustainable use of these resources. Consequently, they are becoming degraded in the short and medium-term, and biodiversity is being lost. This, in turn, serves to aggravate poverty in rural areas. The governments have now understood the dangers, but lack the capacities and resources to solve the problems.
Land users, government agencies and the private sector in Central Asia adopt integrated, economically and ecologically sustainable forms of land use, taking climate change into account.
In part, the programme continues the activities of a predecessor programme on sustainable use of natural resources in Central Asia, developing regionally adapted approaches for the participatory and sustainable management of land resources. Now, the focus has shifted to the integration of different forms of land use, such as pasture and forest management, and their economic valuation at both macro and micro levels. In cooperation with several other projects around Central Asia, the programme’s activities range from direct support for communities and inter-sectoral policy dialogue, to the promotion of cross-border cooperation and regional partnerships.
The programme pursues activities in six areas:
- Forests: In a joint management approach, the national forest department leases forest land to private tenants, who use the plots sustainably. The programme supports individuals and national institutions in concluding leases and designing integrative management plans. It provides technical training to both tenants and forestry staff, and it promotes the reforestation of degraded areas.
- Pasture: To encourage the sustainable management of pastures, the programme promotes the sharing of regional experiences and locally adapted problem-solving approaches. It sensitises pasture users on sustainability and gives support to the pasture committees. It also promotes dialogue between land users and local and national authorities.
- Environmental economics: The programme assists its partners in assessing the value of natural resources and ecosystem services, applying cost-benefit analyses to different forms of land use. This also weigh the degradation of land due to human activity against the benefits of sustainable land management. Nationally, environmental economic accounting is being introduced in a measure that reveals the interactions between the environment and the economic activities of each country. The programme trains relevant staff in valuating environmental aspects of land use in economic term. This should help policy makers identify economically and ecologically sustainable forms of land use.
- Climate change adaptation: Partners in all the countries receive advice on drafting or revising their climate change action plans. The programme is testing local approaches that favour ecosystem-based adaptation, while national policymakers benefit from support for their role in international climate negotiations and in preparation for international climate financing.
- Knowledge management: The programme has integrated a new tool for regional knowledge management into the platforms of its six partners in Central Asia. Known as K-Link, this automatically connects all of their online information on environmental topics, simplifying access to knowledge in all the countries.
- Environmental education and awareness raising: In collaboration with the American University of Central Asia, the programme supports the development of curricula aimed at building capacities among the younger generation for land use planning and adaptation to climate change. It also contributes to television broadcasts intended to raise awareness among children and adolescents for the sustainable use of natural resources.
The consulting firm AFC supports the implementation of the project.
In Kyrgyzstan, pilot implementation of the forest sector reforms began in June 2015. Six forestry enterprises are now testing innovative and adapted mechanisms for decentralised, participatory management, and the activities are coordinated at the national level by the Coordination and Consultative Council, which includes representatives of governmental and international organisations and civil society.
The Committee of Forestry and Fauna in the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan has begun developing mechanisms to support private forestation initiatives in the country.
In the regions of Samarkand and Kashkadarya in Uzbekistan, forestry enterprises have devoted two areas to pilot plantations of sea buckthorn to serve as demonstration plots. With this crop, local people can earn additional income by producing raw materials for pharmaceutical purposes, and by selling fruits and sea buckthorn oil.
The Tajik Pasture Management Networking Platform, which brings together national and international stakeholders, including governmental and non-governmental experts as well as practitioners, has taken up its role as a forum for dialogue and will facilitate knowledge exchange between its members.
As part of the Economics of Land Degradation initiative, and in close collaboration with national research institutions in all five Central Asian countries, the programme has conducted analyses assessing the impacts of land degradation. The findings show that sustainable land management will substantially benefit both the economy and people's livelihoods in the region.
The regional pasture network was launched in March 2016 as a platform for exchanging information. All the members can use the modern and convenient online data management system and tools such as K-Link being developed by the programme.