2.5 million hectares pledged to be restored in the Caucasus and Central Asia
Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have pledged to put the millions of hectares under restoration by 2030.
In response to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to bring 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested land under restoration by 2030, the six countries made the pledges, totaling 2.5 million hectares. The Bonn Challenge was launched in 2011 by the Government of Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The pledges are part of a continuing effort to restore landscapes degraded after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Countries across Central Asia and the Caucasus confronted economic crises and energy shortages throughout the 1990s. In response, agricultural production intensified, as did dependency on forest resources for commercial and fuelwood use, leading to severe destruction of forests and overall landscape degradation.
To help realize their commitments, delegates of the six countries attended a capacity-development workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration and Restoration Opportunities Assessment in the Caucasus and Central Asia in Tbilisi, Georgia, 6–8 November 2018.
The goal was to identify next steps in line with ongoing restoration initiatives in the region. Niels Thevs, coordinator of World Agroforestry’s Central Asia Programme, presented on forest landscape restoration in Kyrgyzstan.
‘In Central Asia, fast-growing trees play a significant role in agroforestry,’ he said, ‘and are seen as a potential source to help to meet wood demand and generate income. After testing a number of poplar hybrids, we were able to present a specimen that grew 4 metres between April and October 2019.’
Fast-growing poplar varieties will be critical to convincing farmers to adopt trees into their agricultural systems. In the past, it has been difficult; farmers were reluctant to allocate resources to planting trees, which would not provide benefits for some time. Thevs’ findings demonstrated, however, that trees were vital to increasing agricultural production in the region.
‘Our research shows that agroforestry systems with poplar shelterbelts and crops like corn or wheat consume about 15% less water than the crop without shelterbelts,’ he said.
The event was led by IUCN in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, with support from the Government of Germany. Guest speakers were drawn from the World Bank, World Agroforestry, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.