Joint Forest Management (JFM)
An integrated approach toward sustainable forest restoration
During the Soviet times, Tajikistan considerably depended on subsidized fuel supplied from other regions of the former Soviet Union. After the independence, inexpensive fuel became unavailable, which led to disastrous consequences for natural resources. Since the locals had no other choice, they proceeded to illegal wood-felling for heating and cooking purposes. In addition, an uncontrolled grazing made it difficult for natural regeneration.
Aim and approach
At presence, the forest institutions lack both the opportunities and tools for sustainable forest management. The absence of land rights for local forest users and, as a result, the consideration of forest ecosystems as an"open access" resource are the main causes of serious degradation. The introduction of transparent governance mechanisms and adapted methods of forest use, as well as the participation of local forest users in this process, can put an end to the continuing degradation and at the same time can improve the living standards of the population.
The implementationof the approach for the joint forest management (JFM) in the Western Pamirs in the areas where floodplain forest is grown is aimed at improving the living standards of the local population. The aim is to reduce the level of degradation of natural resources and the achievement of positive environmental and economic results.
Former illegal forest users now granted by the State Agency of Forestry (Leskhoz) the legal right to use and, according to the individual management plans are responsible for the protection and development of "their" land. The harvested products are distributed between users and the Forestry, so both parties have a mutual interest in sustainable forest management.
JFM is a "bottom up" approach, for the implementation of which the local actors actively participate in decision-making of developing strategies and setting priorities. The involvement of local and regional government structures in the process stimulates the proper modernization of the institutional and regulatory framework, which, in turn, paves the way for wider distribution of the JFM approach.
The JFM approach was implemented in GBAO from 2006 to 2012, with the GIZ project “Sustainable management of natural resources in Gorno-Badakhshan," commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany. Until June, 2011 the concept was implemented in the framework of the GIZ project, titled “Sustainable rehabilitation and development of riparian forests in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast,” commissioned by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The project was implemented in cooperation with the State Forestry Agency. Since 2013, this approach has been implemented in Gorno-Badakhshan by the Public Foundation CAMP Tabiat and the State Forestry Agency.
The JFM elements
The various elements of JFM, interrelated and essential to its operation:
In order to provide the foundation for sustainable forest management, detailed agreements are signed between the State Forestry Agency and private forest users. The "JFM Contract" is a legally binding document with a validity of 20 years (with automatic extension) and provides for the rights and obligations of both parties.
As a next step, co-developed management plans and annual plans for the sustainable management of forest areas.
The structure of civil society (forest user groups) representing the rights and obligations of forest users, is intended to put in order the relationship with the State Forestry.
- In order to meet the requirements of the management plans and annual plans, forest users receive technical advice from the State Forestry Agency.
Progress of the implementation of JFM
The spread of JFM (local level)
At this stage, JFM approach is implemented in four districts in the Western Pamirs (Rosht-Qala, Ishkashim, Shughnan and Vanj). Contracts were signed on the use of forest lands with 500 forest users; the total forest area covered by the JFM, i.e. in the process of restoration, is more than 2500 hectares. In addition, a Geographic Information System (GIS) was developed for the management of forest areas (including general maps, the maps of forest degradation, etc.) inRosht-Qala, Ishkashim and Shugnan districts, which is also widely used by various partners in the forestry sector.
Reforming the State Forestry Agency in GBAO (regional level)
A considerable support has been provided in the restructuring of regional and local forestry agencies. New employees of the Forestry Agency should be trained as advisers and observers who will control the use of forests by local forest users. The important key indicators of reforming the Forestry Agency will transparency, accountability and efficiency.
The national reform of the forest sector (national level)
The aim is to spread the best practices of JFM, which have been developed and implemented at the local level, and are based on the principle of "bottom-up," in and outside Tajikistan. The new Forest Code, providing for various forms of participation of local people in forest management, was adopted in 2011. It encourages the use of JFM in other parts of Tajikistan.
Economic and environmental impacts
The sustainable management of forest areas, within the JFM approach allows restoring the critical functions and services of the ecosystem, which is conducive to climate change adaptation and mitigation of its impacts, biodiversity conservation and combating desertification. Thus, JFM makes a significant contribution to the implementation of the three conventions: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD).