Rural Development Fund held a final seminar at the end of the project on “Model of participation of local communities in the management of mountain ecosystems in the Kyrgyz Republic”. The event welcomed the participation of the representatives from the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry (SAEPF), the Department for the Development of Forest Ecosystems and Specially Protected Natural Territories, the Department for Forest-Hunting in Batken District, local governments of Batken and Kemin districts, international donor and non-governmental organizations, representatives of forestry enterprises, local communities, and other stakeholders.
The seminar presented an innovative model, developed by RDF with the support of the Christensen Fund in conjunction with SAEPF and local institutions, for forest ecosystem management with the participation of local communities. This model was tested in two pilot communities in south and north of the country at the Batken forestry area with the participation of pilot community, Alasan Maikin Group of Samarkandskogo, and at Chon-Kemin National Park with the local community, Karool-Dobo Maikin Group of Kok-Oirok.
This model promotes a holistic concept of management and conservation, while combining the conservation of biocultural diversity with the sustainable use of resources by local communities. The uniqueness of the new co-management model from existing approaches to Joint-Forest-Management lies in the application of a holistic or eco-system approach to the management of forest areas. This model advocates the continuity of conservation of forest ecosystems from the use of their resources, the application of local traditional ecological knowledge, and the involvement in co-management of the entire community, rather than individual, “privileged” forest users. The two pilot sites demonstrated not only the viability of the model, but also its effectiveness in solving many problems in the forest sector. Thus, as part of piloting the model in the Batken pilot plot, the local community Alasan Meikin Group have developed into a sustainable institute that successfully manages the forest plot without external support in accordance with its Community Forest Management Plan. The northern pilot site with Karool-Dobo Maikin Group and Chon-Kemin National Park jointly achieved the end to unauthorized logging in the designated forest area.
The participants were encouraged by these positive results and achievements of local communities at the pilot sites. The seminar also introduced methodological tools for the Co-management Model for Forest Ecosystems such as, Guidelines for Landscape and Forest Inventory Assessment for Local Communities, Guidelines for Conducting Joint Monitoring of the State of Mountain Ecosystems, the Biodiversity Database for Forestry Areas and other protected areas, and other materials developed by RDF.
Mr. Ormonov, the Director of the Department of Forest Ecosystem Development and Specially Protected Natural Territories from State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry, stated that RDF had gone ahead of other organisations to develop a new approach for joint forest management, which would certainly be useful in reforming the country’s forest sector. He also noted the timeliness of RDF methodological developments and stressed the importance of this approach in improving the forest sector and the well-being of the local population.
RDF presented recommendations and suggestions for effective involvement of local communities in forest management based on lessons learned, and summarized that local communities should be involved in forest ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation by means of capacity building, continuous provision of information, and ensuring equal partnership between forestry area, local communities and local authorities.