In response to many regional challenges; FAO (Regional Office for the Near East) and its Forestry Department in Rome, in collaboration with IUCN ROWA and ICARDA met to propose and elaborate a set of sustainability indicators for forests, rangelands and forest-like ecosystems for the NENA Region.
Forestry and rangelands in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region play a crucial role in the societal development through their contribution to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects. The demand for forest and rangelands goods and services is increasing, while the resources are continuously diminishing and rapidly degrading. Forests and rangelands resources in the region are confronted with numerous challenges that threaten their abilities to provide the goods and services which are detriment to the livelihoods of the people. Reports suggest that human induced degradation in the region amounts to 30% of the total land area in North Africa and 38% in the Arabian Peninsula and that the number of endangered herbaceous and tree species are also growing as reflected in the IUCN Red List for endangered plant species. Among the challenges that are linked with the degradation of the forest and rangelands resources are; population increase, urbanization, water scarcity, land use changes, climate change and above all the lack of sustainable management systems.
In response to these challenges FAO, through its Regional Office for the Near East and its Forestry Department in Rome organizes, in collaboration with IUCN Regional Office for West Asia and ICARDA, an expert consultation workshop on the development of C&Is for sustainable management of forests and rangelands in the NENA region. The overall goal of the meeting is to propose and elaborate a set of sustainability indicators for forests, rangelands and forest-like ecosystems for the NENA Region consistent with the current concerns of sustainable land management and land degradation neutrality, in line with the SDG 15 (Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss).
The objective of the meeting was to discuss and reach consensus on the potential added value and concrete uses of a set of sustainability indicators for forests, rangelands and forest-like ecosystems for the Near-East and North Africa Region at local/communal, sub-national, national and regional levels (aid to decision-making tool, policy setting, conflict management, communication), and ways to disseminate and promote their use. It is also important to clarify feasibility, possible objectives, principles and approaches for developing a common set of sustainability indicators for forests, rangelands and forest-like ecosystems for the Near-East and North Africa Region (based on a background note prepared prior to the meeting).
It was also agreed upon on an initial set of harmonized sustainability indicators for forests, rangelands and forest-like ecosystems (including oasis, mangroves, hima and other dry-land ecosystems) for the Near-East and North Africa Region at local/communal, sub-national, national and regional levels to discuss their potential added value and concrete uses. This will later allow for a proposed work plan for the further development, presentation (e.g. FAO Regional Forest and Rangeland Commission, different other events and fora), adoption, promotion and dissemination.
An overall draft set of sustainability indicators adapted to the Near East and North Africa Region and in line with the major challenges of sustainable forest and rangelands management (SFRM) and sustainable land management (SLM) in the region was proposed, and therefore a drafted roadmap and recommendations for next steps for further development and strengthening of their use was produced.
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