Armenia advances monitoring for sustainable forest management

13 September 2017, Yerevan, Armenia – Forests are among the most threatened ecosystems in Armenia, with degradation accelerating. But Armenia is committed to achieving sustainability in forest management, and a three-day workshop opening here today helps to move things in the right direction.

Organized by the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the workshop will focus on establishing criteria and indicators for sustainable management of the country’s forests. About 30 national experts on forests and related topics – from government, administration, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and forest projects and activities – are expected to attend. The initiative is supported by Armenia’s Ministry of Agriculture ”Hayantar” State Non-Commercial Organization (SNCO), in particular because it involves a broad swath of society for more inclusive decision making on forests.

The concept of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management was developed at the landmark Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, it has evolved into a powerful tool for promoting, monitoring, and assessing progress towards sustainable forest management. Many countries have already developed and started using national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, and now Armenia joins those countries by developing its own. The concept is also used at regional and international levels – the Montreal Process, the pan-European Process and the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessments being important examples.

Already scarce forest resources of Armenia suffer from deforestation and degradation, largely attributable to deforestation and overexploitation. Thus, “expansion of forests is one of the main goals for Armenia, not only for the forests’ protective role, but also to develop forest-related businesses and to ensure fuelwood supply to the population” said Ekrem Yazici, deputy chief of the Joint ECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section. Forests play important anti-erosion, soil-protective, water-regulating, and climate-regulating functions. While these ecological functions are widely acknowledged, the economic and social functions of forests are less well understood in Armenia. Yet, a lack of data on biodiversity, ecosystem services and socio-economic aspects hampers effective monitoring.

“Sustainable forest management indicators can provide important information on Armenia’s forest resources and support evidence-based policies,” said Yazici. “The set of indicators will be very beneficial for monitoring, assessing and reporting on the state of Armenia’s forests, strengthening national forest policy, and promoting sustainable forest management.

Armenia – along with Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – is a beneficiary country of a UNECE-FAO project on “Accountability Systems for Sustainable Forest Management in the Caucasus and Central Asia.” Expected to operate from 2016 to 2019, the project is financed through the UN Development Account. The project aims to strengthen national forest sectors and enable the countries to meet their international commitments, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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