On April 28, 2023, an event was held in Bishkek to mark the completion of the project "Conservation of Biodiversity and Poverty Reduction through the Management of Nut Forests and Pastures at the Community Level." The project was implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Government.
The event was attended by representatives from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Kyrgyz Republic, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Forestry Service, several international organizations, forestry enterprises, forest and pasture users, as well as entrepreneurs from the Bazar-Korgon and Aksy districts of Jalal-Abad Oblast.
In his welcoming speech, Murat Ramatov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic, emphasized that this project serves as a prominent example of cooperation among government institutions, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations.
"The project results provide practical tools and approaches for the use of government agencies in the field of agriculture and natural resources," added Ramatov.
Since 2018, the Kyrgyz-German project has been aimed at promoting sustainable forest and pasture management, reducing poverty levels, and preserving biodiversity in Kyrgyzstan. In his welcoming speech, Mr. Viktor Wetzell, the Country Director of GIZ, noted that the project has been active in the following areas: 1) integrated and sustainable land use; 2) strengthening the normative and legal framework; 3) establishing value-added chains; and 4) implementing education for sustainable development. Significant results have been achieved in all project components.
Edit Koshkin, the project manager at GIZ, presented data on the project's results and impact. For instance, 3,926 land users were engaged and actively participated in sustainable land resource management, covering over 15,600 hectares of nut forests and pastures.
Fencing and material return mechanisms, introduced by the project, have been tested and implemented in the forestry enterprises of Bazar-Korgon and Aksy, and are now being used throughout Kyrgyzstan.
Thanks to this model, Dilfuza Ergashova, a resident of Arstanbap village, shared her memories of how they provided water and planted over a thousand walnut seedlings with their neighbors. As Dilfuza spoke to the meeting participants, she expressed pride in herself and the work they do together with the residents of her village.
Supporting the beneficiaries' remarks, Almaz Musaev, the Director of the Forestry Service at the Ministry of Agriculture, shared: "There were challenging moments in restoring and preserving nut forests, especially in Bazar-Korgon, which is the most densely populated district where over 200,000 people live within the forest and rely on it for their livelihoods."
The project also emphasized a "bottom-up" approach, where the project team actively engaged with the local population, effectively conveying the importance of preserving and restoring nut forests to the forest users.
Another achievement highlighted by Almaz Musaev was the enhancement of the forestry workforce's capacity. A total of 180 employees, including engineers, foresters, and forest managers, received training in developing and implementing integrated natural resource management plans.
"The training of forestry staff, the development of methodological manuals, new approaches, and technologies were highly beneficial to our forestry enterprises. We had discussed fencing before, but we didn't know how to compile it into a methodology or approach. The GIZ project helped implement six land-use measures, which have been incorporated into the normative and legal framework, and developed an information portal for the Forestry Service. These innovations will be utilized in all regions of Kyrgyzstan," emphasized the Director of the Forestry Service.
In his speech, Almaz Musaev also highlighted how project specialists facilitated the establishment of value-added chains and trained the local population in the collection, drying, and marketing of non-timber forest products, such as wild berries and fruits, mushrooms, and medicinal herbs.
"People realized that besides livestock husbandry and nut collection, there are alternative sources of stable income, and that they need to look beyond the forest. For further marketing in domestic and international markets, training on international food safety standards was crucial, which was also provided by the project," Musaev concluded.
Through the processing of non-timber forest products, 1,365 individuals from the region increased their income by up to 30%. Thanks to the project, 149 people received financial literacy training, developed their own 18 business plans, and were able to seek financing for their ideas.
In conclusion of the event, a ceremony was held to honor the project partners for their contribution to the project's success. Despite the project coming to an end, its approaches and achievements can be integrated and disseminated in other GIZ projects such as "Identification of Suitable Areas for Afforestation, Reforestation, and Natural Regeneration of Degraded Forests in the State Forest Fund of the Kyrgyz Republic," "Green Economy and Sustainable Development of the Private Sector in Kyrgyzstan," "Integrated Land Use in Central Asia," and projects of other development partners like FAO/GCF CS-FOR.
The success of the project "Conservation of Biodiversity and Poverty Reduction through the Management of Walnut Forests and Pastures at the Community Level" is a significant achievement for the Kyrgyz Republic, with long-term implications for biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction in the country. Its impact on the local population will serve as an example of sustainable natural resource management.
The information and photos were provided by Gulayim Shigaibayeva, the Public Relations Specialist of the project "Conservation of Biodiversity and Poverty Reduction through the Management of Walnut Forests and Pastures at the Community Level."
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