Kazakhstan’s commitment to large increase of forest cover in the country
In 2013, Kazakhstan government approved the policy to initiate and complete the transition to a ‘green economy’ by 2050. In this context, the strategic “Concept document for conservation and sustainable use of the biological diversity of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030”, sets the objective to increase forest cover to 5% of the total surface of Kazakhstan by 2030 (compared to current 4.7%). This translates into increasing forest cover by roughly 700 thousand hectares.
To support strategic decision-making in the forestry sector in Kazakhstan, UNDP commissioned Wolfs Company and the VU University Amsterdam to perform a Targeted Scenario Analysis, TSA for the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The TSA assessed the impact of two forest management scenarios identified in consultation with stakeholders in Kazakhstan:
- The Business-As-Usual scenario (BAU), in which current management practices are continued and historical trends in forest cover continue.
- The Sustainable Ecosystem Management (SEM) scenario, in which investments are made to improve forest management and reach the forest cover target of 5% of the surface of Kazakhstan by 2030.
Key findings of the TSA
- To accomplish the SEM targets of increased forest cover, reforestation efforts must be increased substantially. Compared to the baseline, the annual forest management budgets are required to increase 34,5% in total in the SEM scenario for all State Forest Enterprises.
- In return, ecosystem benefits provided by Kazakh forests are expected to increase. Timber production can potentially grow over 12% compared to BAU. The stock of sequestered carbon is expected be 1.5% larger in SEM in 2030. The areas with high potential for harvesting NTFPs and for tourism are expected to increase with around 3%. In the south of Kazakhstan, the increase in saxaul cover will reduce the risk of desertification, thereby reducing costs to local communities and governments to protect infrastructure and properties, estimated at 5.5 billion KZT per year. Besides, the increase in forest cover will improve the habitats hosting endangered species, thereby contributing to national biodiversity targets.
- Comparing the additional costs of forest management and the economic benefits in the BAU and SEM scenario, the results indicate that the transition to SEM is desirable from a societal perspective. The increase in the economic value of sequestered carbon and the avoided costs of desertification alone already outweigh the additional costs of forest management in the SEM scenario.
Overcoming the challenges to modernize the forest sector in Kazakhstan. Strategic recommendations for policy makers
The forest sector requires a modernization towards innovative models and financing mechanisms namely to ensure sufficient financial resources for forest management; provide the necessary technological re-equipment for forest management; and implement modern forest management technologies and advanced training of staff. The strategic recommendations are summarized as follows:
- Improve the forest management structure and alignment between central and regional institutions.
- Improve the capacity of human resources in the forestry sector, with higher wage standards and opportunities for the professional development of the staff.
- Modernize equipment and infrastructure in state forests.
- Review long-term forest user system, by improving the forest accounting, monitoring, and cadaster system, revising the tendering system, and shortening lease contracts with forest users.
- Increase opportunities for sustainable financing of forest management, by reviewing regulations to increase possibilities for revenue generating activities and investigating the potential to generate additional funding through carbon offsets.
- Improve information systems for transparency and policy evaluation, by implementing centralized and harmonized data collection processes and a monitoring strategy of ecosystem benefits to inform policy makers on the value of forests.