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FFI has played a very important role in capacity building. It’s priceless for local people and forestry officials to get something like training or equipment.
FFI’s Kyrgyzstan in-country representative
Central Asia holds an amazing array of ecosystems but one of the most fascinating is the ancient forests of fruit and nut trees. They are not only diverse habitats full of wildlife but they support local communities.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) works with in-country partners in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to promote the sustainable use and more effective protection of forest resources. We are helping government authorities, NGOs and local communities to work together to manage their valuable forests.
It’s one of the most obvious ways that humans rely on nature for survival – we need to eat. Though we shouldn’t just look at the utility value of biodiversity, it is certainly one of the most compelling reasons to protect the variety of life on Earth.
Wild varieties of crops, such as the apples, walnuts and other species in Central Asia, hold critical diversity that has been lost in much of modern large-scale agriculture. They may well hold genes that benefit food production in the future, for example, resistance to new pests or the ability to adapt to climate change.
Childukhtaron Forest has a wonderful mixture of walnut, apple, cherry, mulberry and juniper trees, making it globally important for biodiversity but also vital to local people’s survival. FFI is working with the Forestry Department, local communities and national NGOs to raise awareness and improve the forest management by strengthening the capacity of key-stakeholders to protect this threatened ecosystem. In particular, we are helping to build the skills of our Tajik partner organisation Zan va Zamin to provide training, mentoring and support in delivering small scale conservation initiatives in highly diverse forest habitats.
The unique fruit and nut forests of Central Asia have declined by at least 80% over the last 50 years and are still under threat from grazing, hay making, over harvesting, illegal tree cutting and firewood collection.
FFI and our partners are helping the local forest service and communities to plan together to protect and manage the forests. Through seminars, events and publications we are raising awareness of the global importance of the forests and the conservation issues, as well as developing practical solutions to address threats, such as solar cookers and heaters. We are also supporting grassroots initiatives to engage school children in setting up nurseries to grow threatened trees for planting in the forest.
FFI is actively conserving the Endangered Niedzwetzky apple, one of the trees identified in The Red List of Trees of Central Asia. We are increasing knowledge and protection of the areas where it occurs and building capacity among the local forest service, protected area staff and local communities to protect and reinforce the populations by propagation in nurseries for subsequent planting. During 2010 and 2011, well over a thousand saplings were planted in the forest, which are now being cared for and monitored.
Local people rely on the forests for survival – for example, in a good harvest year walnuts can account for 50% of a family’s annual cash income in Kara Alma village in Kyrgyzstan.