Adaptation to climate change through sustainable forest management
Title: Adaptation to climate change through sustainable forest management
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Forestry Agency of the Government of Tajikistan
Overall term: 2013 to 2018
Tajikistan is among the Asian countries most severely affected by climate change. This is evident from the growing incidence of natural disasters, such as landslides, floods and drought, and a general decline in the availability and quality of water. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, large areas were deforested to meet the need for fuelwood. This now makes the country more vulnerable to climate change and exacerbates its negative impacts. Conflicts over land use between forestry offices and the local population also continue to lead to overuse and degradation of forest areas.
Forests play a key role in the lives of Tajikistan’s rural population. Firewood, fodder, medicinal plants, fruit and nuts can be sold locally at a profit and represent an important source of income. Forests also perform an essential function in regulating the water balance and providing protection against natural disasters. Rehabilitating and protecting forests is therefore of vital importance in the process of adapting to climate change.
The involvement of local people in resolving land use conflicts and managing the forests sustainably in a number of pilot areas has helped to slow the rate of forest degradation and promote the rehabilitation of existing forests. As yet, however, stakeholders in many other regions of Tajikistan are still unable to rehabilitate degraded forests by applying participatory management models.
The state forest agency, forest enterprises and forest users are working together to protect and rehabilitate forests and ensure that they are used sustainably. Progress is being made in the adaptation to climate change and the conservation of biodiversity in the project areas, and living conditions are improving.
The project builds on successful experiences with collaborative forest management in six regions of Tajikistan. Joint forest management (JFM) essentially involves leasing forest land to local people over the long term. The tenants rehabilitate and use their forest plots according to management plans. Local forest enterprises advise them on forest rehabilitation. The project sets out to demonstrate the applicability and impact of joint forest management in different forest ecosystems, paving the way for wider use of the approach throughout the country.
Non-governmental organisations are helping households and communities to enter into contracts for JFM. Communities are also being encouraged to work out agreements designed to prevent conflicts of interest between forest and pastureland users. This is because forests and pastureland are often in competition with each other. Women are being given particular support with the processing and marketing of non-wood forest products.
The focus is on supporting the forest agency, forest enterprises and their staff so that JFM is mainstreamed in Tajikistan on a permanent basis. Vocational training measures for foresters are being developed and carried out. The topic of climate change and its impact on agriculture and forestry is being integrated into university curriculums. The project is working with forest enterprises and authorities on analysing their operating processes with a view to increasing their efficiency, self-reliance and transparency. Moreover, the project is supporting the development and introduction of a monitoring system that will enable local forest enterprises to plan and monitor their activities more effectively (including JFM). Assistance is also being given for the introduction of seed management and the production of seedlings of climate-resistant tree species.
JFM has been successfully introduced and adapted to the needs of six communities with different forest types. By 2015, more than 900 contracts had been signed. The local communities and forest enterprises rate JFM as an effective and helpful approach.
Measures to strengthen the capacities of forest authorities and forest users and to settle land use conflicts are leading to the rehabilitation of degraded forest areas, greater availability of fuelwood and increased earnings from forest activities. Biodiversity conservation is also contributing to the long-term stability of forests and mitigating the negative impacts of climate change. The forest agency, forest enterprises and forest users have gained a comprehensive understanding of JFM and are now able to share this approach more widely within and beyond the target areas. With the development of local bylaws, the legal basis for JFM is now fully in place and documented so that it can be rolled out in additional areas.