On December 5, 2012, REC Caucasus launched a two-day closure conference on its EU funded project Fostering Community Forestry Policy and Practice in Mountain Regions of the Caucasus at Sheraton Metechi Palace, Tbilisi, Georgia.
The conference participants included 50 people – representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, national project implementing teams, other forestry related key national and regional stakeholders as well as international organizations and donors.
The regional conference aimed to outline current needs and interests of the stakeholders from the project countries, provide the representatives of international organizations and donors with project results, main outcomes, best practices and lessons learned as well as exchange experience on Community Forest Management, sustainable forest management and biodiversity protection in the South Caucasus countries. The main objective of the conference was to provide final results and achievements of the project including awareness raising activities, legal and policy recommendations on community forestry, capacity building trainings, development of Community Forest Management Plans and packages of relevant recommendations to existing national legislation and implemented reforestation/afforestation activities.
Outputs and Recommendations
During the final part of the conference, the FCFPP stakeholders discussed the project’s successes together with the recommendations for its further development. Some of the raised issues can be found below:
1. Successfully created landscape restoration and reforestation activities together with employment opportunities with the certain income sources for the local communities in mountainous regions of South Caucasus.
2. The importance and effectiveness of on job trainings was stressed, whereupon the local communities adopted fresh skills on landscape and forest restoration activities.
3. The exchange of knowledge and experience between experts and local communities was emphasized as a great success story, as it deepened the understanding between the two parties.
4. The increase in capacities and knowledge among local communities, local authorities, stakeholders, CBOs and non-governmental organizations on sustainable forest management policies, forestry legislation, CFMP practices, community forest management has been underlined.
5. Continuation of the RECC regional dialogue on the community forest management, sustainable forestry and biodiversity conservation among the civil society, experts, relevant governmental agencies and donor organizations was recommended.
6. Search for the persistent and steady funding source by the pilot communities was marked as a priority. Experts recommended teaching the community members guidelines on attracting potential financial donors (filing reports, creation of the Trust Funds for the forests and etc.).
7. Extended work on educating the younger generations was suggested in order to better acquaint them with their ecosystems and develop a sense of responsibility in children towards their forests.
8. Facilitation and implementation of local ecotourism development was recommended; providing population with the various ways of utilizing their forests was also suggested.
9. Providing communities with information on the threatened species found in their forests and implementation of the individualized responsibility approach in the protection of these forests were outlined.
10. Arrangement of the institutional structure in coordinating the community forests together with the identification of the subsidy mechanisms to create a financial stability were emphasized.
11. Among the final recommendations was creation of the collective units consisting of the local farmers that would cooperate on the management of the community forests.