KIRFOR Overview. Phases 1 - 5

The KIRFOR programme
(Kyrgyz-Swiss Forestry Support Programme) started in 1995 with the goal to support reforming the Kyrgyz forestry sector for a more social and productive oriented forest management, toward sustainability and biodiversity conservation. The programme was developed by Intercooperation, the Swiss Foundation for Development and International Cooperation and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC. 15 years later it is time to draw conclusions and look at the main achievements.

Countries in transition have to go through fundamental changes in order to meet the requirements of a market economy. This implies minimal State ownership and regulatory control of the productive sectors of the economy. This necessitates a re-definition of the role of public bodies: reduced public interventions, state withdrawal from productive activities, changes from a centrally planned system to an adaptive enterprise monitoring, and from top-down command-and-control to a more participatory bottom-up style of decision making. The State owned forest sector finds itself in a situation where it has to adapt to a new economic environment and policy and legal framework, while at the same time develop its multifunctional character and promoting sustainable development of forest resources and industries. Kyrgyzstan is one of the countries experiencing such a situation after gaining independence in 1991.

Importance of the forest sector in Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, during the Soviet era, the forest sector’s focus was on conservation of forest resources. The biodiversity of the rich Kyrgyz forest ecosystems, such as the walnut fruit forests or the juniper forests, is a unique pool of world genetic material and wealth. During the transition process, the forests have increasingly contributed to rural livelihoods, providing the local population with construction timber, fuel wood and livestock fodder. The timber-processing sector is being developed, but still relies mainly on imported timber (approximately 90 %). With a more production oriented forest management in suitable areas, locally produced timber could replace part of the importations, thus increasing the overall contribution of the sector to the national economy.


The past evolution of the KIRFOR programme during the period 1995 to 2010 is marked by a sequence of phases, each with its own conceptual focus:

  • KIRFOR Phase 1 (1995 – 1997): start-up phase, establishment of the Project Support Unit (PSU) and the individual programme components’ facilities
  • KIRFOR Phase 2 (1998 – 2000): consolidation of the working partnership between the programme and the involved partner agencies & stakeholders, initiation of the forestry sector reform process
  • KIRFOR Phase 3 (2001 – 2003): culmination of Swiss support, continuation of forestry sector reform and expansion of the programme to its full scope, including development of forest management planning instruments, promotion of down-stream processing & marketing activities and involvement of the private sector, and collaborative forest management (CFM)
  • KIRFOR Phase 4 (2004 – 2007) : consolidation phase, finalisation of the programme’s achievements and handing over of activities to the Kyrgyz partners, gradual phasing out of external support.
  • KIRFOR Phase 5 (2008 – 2010): extension of Phase 4 for achieving the ongoing, finalisation of the non reached results and processes, capitalisation of experiences and termination of KIRFOR.