Cumulative forests and other wooded lands of the eight countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia cover more than 30 million ha, which is the size of Italy. Forests in the Caucasus occupy less than 15 per cent of the territory, and in Central Asia less than 10 per cent.
The “State of Forests of the Caucasus and Central Asia” report, launched on 7 May by UNECE and FAO at a side event of the 14th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in New York, describes forest resources, the forest sector of the region, and the major threats facing forests in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
This is the first ever regional overview of the forest sector since these countries gained independence in the 1990s.
The forests of the Caucasus and Central Asia helps the countries in combating erosion and desertification in the harsh climates of the region. They host a rich biodiversity and provide livelihoods for the rural population. These forests also serve as important sources of wood for energy.
Almost 90 percent of the forests and other wooded lands is designated for protective functions. Plantations of saxaul, for example, are one of the few means of helping villages around the Aral Sea, where a reduction of the water area has created a salty desert, with windblown toxic dust that is damaging to health and the environment.
In many areas, non-wood products from the forests – nuts (pistachios, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), fruit and berries, hay, medicinal herbs, mushrooms, honey, flower bulbs, tree seeds and others – serve as a source of income for local population.
The report sets out a series of practical steps to help respond to the specific challenges identified. These include measures to protect and restore existing forests and to strengthen forest sector institutions, allocating sufficient resources and ensuring their efficient and accountable management.
The study also points out the need to improve the information base for sustainable forest management, by regularly implementing comprehensive and accurate forest inventories, together with surveys of forest health and vitality, monitoring supply of wood, other goods and services, as well as employment and livelihoods in the forest sector.
Here are the highlights of the report on state of forest sector in Turkmenistan:
Turkmenistan reports 8.7% forest cover, equivalent to 0.7 ha/resident, higher than the regional average. The area of forest and other wooded land is estimated at 4.26 million ha.
According to the National Forestry Program of Turkmenistan (2013-2020) a national forest inventory is foreseen. This inventory started in 2014 and is still in process. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
The three main forest types are: mountainous or hilly, desert and tugai forests.
Mountain forests occupy a total area of about 146,200 ha. They are rich in wood species, such as juniper (Juniperus turcomanica). Extension of juniper forests is limited by the difficulty of growing planting material.
The vegetation of sandy desert territories of Turkmenistan is typically xerophilous with wide endemic diversity of species. Most of this territory in sandy or desert areas, up to 3.95 million ha in all, is covered with saxaul, cherkez and kandym.
Tugai forests are mainly found in river valleys. The key forest-forming species are poplar, “loch” (Elaeagnus), willow, tamarisk and others. At present, the overall area of tugai forests in Turkmenistan is 26.2 thousand ha, not including the territory of the Amu Darya State Reserve (5,000 ha).
There are artificially established forests on mountainous, sandy and irrigated areas within the territory of the SFF, field protection forests and pasture protection forests. Continuous sowing and planting have resulted in 680,000 ha of woods and pasture-protection forests (UNECE, 2012).
Currently, there are only 5,700 ha of sanitary zones and recreational forests in the country (UNECE, 2012).
Consumption of forest products per head is extremely low in Turkmenistan (0.1 m3RE /cap.).
All forest products must be imported: 40% come from Turkey and a third from the Russian Federation.
Several tens of millions of trees and shrubs were planted around the capital and in the velayats (3 million trees are planted every year).
There are plans to expand work on gardening and create optimal environmental conditions in the country, especially on the Caspian Sea coast in the Avaza National Tourist Zone, forest-growing in the north of the country in the Aral Sea influence zone, the development of nurseries to grow planting material on modern technologies.
/// nCa, 14 May 2019
Publication “State of Forests of the Caucasus and Central Asia” is available here: