National Forest Policy & Sector Reform

Support to forest policy development was always in the center of the KIRFOR attention. Acting at different levels (field / local, meso / regional and macro / national) a consistent participatory process was implemented to develop a new national forest policy adapted to the new reality. A local working group leaded the process with guidance from foreign specialists.

1. Rationale

Change in political and socio-economic situation caused by transition from centralized planning system to market economy put on agenda reorientation of the whole forest governance system as far as policy, institutional set up, legislation, economy and ecology were concerned. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the forest sector of Kyrgyzstan remained with forest policy tailored for the needs and capacities of centralized system of governance. It was promoting dominance of forest protection and conservation over sustainable management and use. After the independence in 1991, the forest sector found in a situation where it has had to adapt itself to a new economic environment and political and legal framework, while at the same time developing its multifunctional character and promoting sustainability. For the forest sector, this shift implied developing a new policy and legal environment supportive of sustainable development of forest resources and industries, restructuring the State Forest Service and building capacities to support the private sector and promoting public participation.

For the forest sector, the shift from a centrally planned to a market economy implied developing a policy and legal environment supportive of sustainable development of forest resources and industries, restructuring the State Forest Service and building capacities to support the private sector and promoting public participation. Therefore, the main challenges can be grouped as follows:

  • Developing and approving a National Forest concept.
  • Revising the forest code.
  • Transferring productive activities to the private sector.
  • Promoting public participation.
  • Conceptualizing new ways of collaborating with local communities in forest management.
  • Developing and approving a National Forest programme.
  • Building national capacity at all levels.
  • Starting an institutional reform process (revising the structure).

 

2. Strategy and approach adopted

One of the main approaches in any sector policy development project is to enlist support from the highest possible level. Ability to lobby in the Parliament is another certainly important thing in the domain of legislation development. On different stage of KIRFOR project implementation both were quite different - from very powerful in the beginning to rather weak in the end. It is evidently connected with the human factor and the sector leadership charisma.

Another important aspect to consider is the complexity of the elements constituting a forest policy. To help understanding the different elements or components of a forest sector policy we can use the chart below , used in the frame of National Forest Programmes (nfps). The Forest policy comprises of different elements, represented here with different shapes and color, i.e.: Sector review, Forest policy statement, Action or Master Plans, Intersectoral plans, Forest legislation, Institutional reforms, Financial mechanisms, Stakeholder participation, Capacity building, Information sharing, Partnerships. All these elements are interlinked with each other. KIRFOR has always tried to work from different angles in a programmatic approach, which covered almost all the boxes in the chart below.

At the beginning, KIRFOR used the “mixed model” as a conceptual framework to develop the new forest policy. Programmatic approach involved not only the national level, but also the LH level into the policy development process, which helped a lot in developing the forest policy and revising and improving legal texts. It has also considered the sector external relations and links, as well as the stakeholders’ interests and expectations.

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Among the main strategies and approaches actively used by KIRFOR in the process of Kyrgyz national forest policy development the following should be mentioned:

  • Participation of all the stakeholders in the development process and inclusion of different interests into the final documents.
  • Consideration of local and regional interests in the political provisions on the approved documents
  • Bottom-up planning of the main documents
  • Partnership construction among the main actors in sustainable forest management
  • Establishment of the working links between the stakeholders
  • Programmatic approach trans- sector links and contacts to search sector sustainability
  • Engagement of international consultancy into the process to fill the gaps in local knowledge and to build local capacities
  • Mobilisation of local expertise to identify champions
  • Information dissemination on all the levels and by different means to all decision taking bodies and people
  • Best practises and experiences sharing
  • Change in planning paradigm: New integrated development plans for local communities, including NRM
  • Evaluation and revision of policy implementation are very important tools to political provisions actual
  • Interdisciplinary trans-sector expertise to assess policy implementation progress.
  • Probation of the political statements in the field
  • Capacity building for all the main actors of the forest sector

3. Sustainability of the results

It is correct to say that for some aspects of the reform KIRFOR has helped the country forestry sector to reach a point of no return. Despite some resistance at different levels, the gain made on some issues will be difficult to revert. It is true for CFM, the sharing of responsibilities between different actors (AO, LH, tenants, the transfer of some productive activities to the private sector, etc.). Forestry Development Concept foresees the period until 2025. However, it is a question whether Forestry Department can organize its follow-up and evaluation in an appropriate way. National Action Plan being the main management tool of the FD will be surely kept and elaborated for the next period (2011-2015). Some doubts about the period, it can be pretty well shortened. Should be reformulated In general, existing legal documents will serve as model and base for the future elaboration of similar documents.

Participatory trends of al actors in formulation of forest policy and legislation will be difficult to preserve in future, since they require additional resources: human, financial and institutional. But there is a hope that the success of the participatory approaches applied in Kirgiz forest sector development will encourage authorities to continue in the same direction.

Internal legal acts such as concept and strategy for CFM implementation and concept for handing over to the private sector have not been registered in the ministry of justice and thus do not have the real legal enforcement. At any time they will be easier to be changed or removed according to a simple internal will at the level of the Stat agency.