The GEF Small Grants Programme

in Uzbekistan

How to restore a desert forest?

Genetic diversity provides the basis for the evolution of forest tree species and their adaptation to change. The critical role of tree plantations and forests, in addition to their function in absorbing greenhouse gases and ensuring proper gas exchange, is to prevent land degradation and reduce the risk of natural disasters.

Urgent action is needed to conserve forest genetic resources and manage them sustainably. Forest genetic resources are the hereditary material of trees and other woody plant species that have real or potential economic, ecological, scientific and social value. Proper management of forest genetic resources allows the benefits of forests to be multiplied1.

Everyone knows that the situation with forests on the planet, unfortunately, is deplorable. Forests are cut down and in addition there are widespread fires that destroy colossal forests. All biodiversity and ecosystems suffer. If the natural mechanism includes the processes of forest restoration from fires, then the forest will not be able to save itself from anthropogenic impact - cutting down and unsustainable use of forest resources. We need a change in our attitude towards the forest. There must be sustainable relationships, and not just “living like a locust” with an attitude towards the forest as a source of raw materials and income.

But there are well-known ways of the harmonious existence of man with his economy and nature. And they are extremely simple. Change your attitude, broaden your horizons, start with a piece of your land, grow a forest - the source of your own existence. Use rationally his gifts, and he will fully provide for you and your descendants. People living in the forest buffer zone and keeping their farms in the immediate vicinity of the forest should preserve the forest both in their places and outside their households.

If we talk about figures for forest cover, then the current state of affairs leaves much to be desired. The forest cover of Uzbekistan as of 01.01.2012 is 6.7%, or 2.9 million hectares, and the areas of the state forest fund covered with forests are decreasing2. While over the past 50 years, the area of ​​irrigated land has grown from 2.46 million hectares to 4.28 million hectares. The main cause of forest loss is deforestation and irrational use of forest resources. It is clear that the forest cannot provide as much food as agricultural activities. But it is important to know and remember that the forest represents a genetic fund and diversity, which must be preserved, because. wild relatives of all modern cultivated plant species grow in the forest. By destroying the forest, we are losing the basis for our continued existence and food production.

The picture of the distribution of the state forest fund is as follows: most of the forest fund is naturally under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, followed by khokimiyats, then shirkat, farmer and dekhkan farms. The farms have the least fund lands, but use its resources the most, and if they are trained in rational and sustainable farming and the use of available natural resources and, first of all, forest resources, and if they are provided with more opportunities for local self-government, then the effect of such activities can be colossal.

In addition to the well-known types of forests covering foothill, mountainous zones and river deltas, there are also desert forests in Uzbekistan. The importance of the ecological services provided by desert forests cannot be overestimated. The desert can give a person a lot of things necessary for his life in such harsh conditions. We need to help the desert recover, become healthier and continue to function properly, performing its services. It is this approach that was applied in the framework of the GEF SGP project to demonstrate the Desert Ecosystem Restoration Model on the example of degraded sites in the Surkhandarya region.

The project in Surkhandarya shows how important it is to create forest plantations by planting as many species as possible, representing the biodiversity of the local ecosystem, able to survive in harsh changing conditions and at the same time give people the opportunity to use their resources.

As part of this project, a community of desert plants was planted on 50 hectares to restore the desert ecosystem.

Currently, a healthy forest is growing in the project area, represented by such desert species as saxaul, cherkez, and juzgun. This project is one of the successful examples of desert vegetation restoration on degraded lands. We will be happy to further promote this practice, spreading experience and knowledge and involving as many farmers and land users as possible.

Below, for your reference, the application and the budget of the project are attached:

download project document

download project budget


2 National report on the state of the environment and the use of natural resources in the Republic of Uzbekistan (2008-2011)