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Creating a greener economy in Central Asia and the Caucasus with sustainable forests

Published: 08 July 2013

A healthy forest sector has a key role to play in “greening” the economy, the outcome document “The Future We Want” of the United Nations Rio+20 Conference says. Wood products can substitute for more carbon-intensive and non-renewable materials. Forests prevent environmental degradation due to air and water pollution and soil erosion. They also reduce the impact of natural disasters, such as flooding, avalanches and landslides.

In countries with transition economies, and especially those in Central Asia and the Caucasus, the full potential of the forest sector still needs to be unlocked. In most of these countries, forest degradation remains a serious threat and often leads to deforestation and severe erosion. This has a big impact on the national economy as well as communities and their standard of living.

Fragile institutions, limited human and financial resources and scarce information are the root cause. However, these countries are taking action and showing commitment. All of them are signatories to the Rio Conventions and participate in UN processes that identify forests as a key biome for the mitigation of climate change and the conservation of biodiversity.

In order to support these commitments, UNECE and FAO are now launching a project for sustainable forest management, in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The aim is to: strengthen forest sector policies and institutions; develop and implement action plans for enhancing the contribution of forestry to a greener economy in selected countries; promote sustainable forest products, including for bioenergy; and improve data collection on forests and forest products.

To achieve this aim the project will provide knowledge, training and advisory services for government officials, at all levels, responsible for forestry. It will be implemented over a two year period and will rely on the existing network of entities and experts that UNECE and FAO have in the region.

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Maria Teresa Pisani
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