16/12/2016

A New System to Assess Forest Resources in Belarus

The picture was taken on Christmas Eve in Narachanski National Park. Forest eco-systems play an important role for nature conservation in Belarus as well as for recreation. Practically all recreational facilities of Belarus are situated in forest-covered areas. Foto by  Alexander Zhed
A red deer in the National Park Belavezhskaya Pushcha. The Belarusian forest is an important habitat, it gives food and shelter to hundreds fauna species. Red deer is one of the most beautiful and “noble” forest inhabitants. Photo by Nicolai Cherkas.
An old pear tree in the Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park. Foto by  Alexander Zhed

FLEG II developed a more efficient evaluation system in line with the newly approved Forest Code

Optimization and efficiency. These are the keywords of the new system of valuation of forest resources devised by the ENPI East Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Program (FLEG II) for the Ministry of Forestry (MoF) of Belarus. This tool not only will allow to assess the value of timber as well as non-timber resources more accurately, but will also unveil the socio-economic functions of these resources in rural settings.

The collaboration between FLEG II and the MoF began with the analysis of the two state systems of evaluation already in place in Belarus, i.e. the State Forest Cadastre and the State Assessment of Condition of Forests.

“After many years of coexistence, the two parallel systems, based on different evaluation approaches, have turned out to be outdated and inefficient: they partly overlap and lead to confusion in the interpretation of the data” said Valiantsin Krasouski, engineer and FLEG II consultant who conducted the analysis, “In addition, neither of the systems complies with the requirements of the new Forest Code, which will enter into force in 2017”.

The comprehensive assessment carried out by FLEG II triggered the decision to create a brand-new system which would replace the two existing ones. This unified system would bring considerable benefits to the MoF, such as cutting the management costs and improving the data quality.

“Our work consisted in combining the old systems to obtain a more efficient one which is based on international standard approaches” said Mr. Krasouski, “We also optimized the procedures to fill in the inventory with the aim to get more relevant and reliable data”.

Another important aspect of the system set up by the FLEG II team consists in a more accurate assessment of the value of non-timber resources.

“Our ultimate goal is to support the work of the decision-makers with objective and reliable data” said Marina Belous, FLEG II Program Coordinator for IUCN in Belarus, “Therefore, we decided to improve the quality of the information related to the socio-economic value of non-timber resources”.

The old systems mainly focused on assessing timber resources and overlooked other relevant factors which affect the lives of rural communities. On the other hand, the new tool will include provisions for valuing the phenomena of climate change mitigation, recreation, energy, water catchment, biodiversity conservation, and rural livelihood development potential.

“This approach is in line with the objectives of the study we conducted on the level of forest dependency of rural households, the Forest Dependency Study” affirmed Ms. Belous, “This information will improve the understanding of the social, economic, and environmental functions of forest resources and their impact on rural communities. If policy-makers are aware of the value of these resources, they are in the position to devise more effective policies”.

“The cooperation between the MoF and the FLEG II Program was very fruitful” said Alexander Kulik, First Deputy Minister of Forestry of the Republic of Belarus, “We are very satisfied with the new system of forest resources assessment and valuation, as it will allow to have unified documents, which will be regularly maintained and updated, in accordance with the newly adopted Forest Code of the Republic of Belarus. The data will be available to all stakeholders who will need information on forest and forest resources”.



            

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