24 November 2015, World Bank news - Today the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a total financing of US$ 16.11 million for the Kyrgyz Republic Integrated Forest Ecosystem Management Project (IFEMP). US$6.6 million of this financing is a concessional credit, while US$5.4 million is a grant. The Global Environment Facility will support implementation of the IFEMP project with the grant worth US$4.11 million.The main objective of this five-year project is to strengthen the capacity of government and communities to improve sustainable forest ecosystem management in the country through investments in management planning, ecosystem restoration, and infrastructure.
In the Kyrgyz Republic forests play a vital economic, social and environmental role, and are especially important for the livelihoods of rural communities. Approximately 2.4 million people (or 41% of the total population) live in or near forests and rely on the forests not only for timber and fuel wood but also for pasture and fodder, as well as non-timber forest products such as nuts, fruit, mushrooms, and medicinal plants. With the total area of forest lands being over 1.1 million hectares, the key challenge today is to manage these forests productively in a sustainable manner.
The IFEMP project will support an ecosystem-based approach to the improved management of the areas controlled by leskhozes – local level forest management entities – including forested lands, pastures, and unproductive or marginal lands set aside for afforestation. This will be done through support for institutional reform and capacity building at the national, local and community levels, introduction of integrated natural resource management planning at the leskhoz level as well as financial and technical support for the implementation of these plans in twelve pilot area.
"The World Bank's 2014-2017 Country Partnership Strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic identifies public management of scarce natural resources as a priority for improved poverty outcomes, particularly for the two-thirds of the population that live in rural areas of the country," said Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager in the Kyrgyz Republic. "We are pleased to support the project that will contribute to improving the lives of rural people by protecting and improving the natural resource base of forests and pastures on which the livelihoods and communities are dependent."
An important activity under the IFEMP project will be updating the National Forest Inventory. The aim is to provide access to information at the national and local level on baseline forest resources, land tenure and degradation, supply and demand figures, required for the development and implementation of new leskhoz management plans. The project will also provide technical assistance for the establishment, operation and maintenance of a Forest Management Information System which will feed into the National Forest Inventory and participatory management planning process conducted by leskhozes.
"The IFEMP project will promote reform of the national and leskhoz-level governance system to ensure inclusion of local communities in decision making about the use of resources and management planning. Improved forest management can mitigate the effects of climate change through increased productivity, reduced emissions from forest fires, and afforestation or natural regeneration of formerly bare lands and degraded forests," said the World Bank's Senior Environment Specialist and Team Task Leader of the project Nathalie Weier Johnson.
The IFEMP project will be implemented in 2016-2021 by the Kyrgyz State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forests and is expected to provide direct benefits to people living and working in and around the twelve target leskhozes (with each leskhoz having approximately 10,000 people).Additionally, the project will help people in 120 rural municipalities that are located adjacent to forests. It is estimated that the project will improve management of forests equaling approximately 161,000 hectares and introduce sustainable management of forest and pasture landscapes on approximately 616,000 hectares.
The World Bank's overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to reduce poverty, promote economic growth and shared prosperity. Forty-five percent of the World Bank's assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants. The other 55 percent is in highly concessional credits with no interest, and only a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, while grants require no repayment. The Bank's financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to over US$1 billion, in the form of grants and highly concessional credits.