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Climate change, forest resilience on table at meetings in Ukraine

Key forestry leaders in Ukraine began deliberations today on a series of critical natural resources issues challenging the country, including climate change, forest resilience, and Ukraine’s climate policy.

The talks provide the region’s first major opportunity to explore how the new global approach to climate change is relevant to forest management in Ukraine. Attendees are assessing international practices and developing local guidelines for forest management. The meetings are part of a project begun in 2017 to set priorities for national climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Ukrainian agriculture sector. The project, which FAO is leading in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, addresses national policy development, methodological approaches, and technical advisory services.

“Climate change is a reality, and its speed in Ukraine is even slightly higher than in the rest of the world,” said Tamara Kutonova, ecologist and senior international consultant for FAO. “On one hand, forests play an immense role in absorbing greenhouse gases and decreasing the speed of climate change. On the other hand, climate change does have negative impacts on forests.”

Meetings like this are a step in breaking that vicious cycle, she added, as foresters from all over Ukraine gather to discuss the most viable methods for improving conditions. Options being discussed include elements of the so-called Climate Smart Forestry approach, such as introducing more drought-resistant species through afforestation, adjusting the dates for planting trees, introducing integrated pest management, planting and maintaining forest bends along roads and between fields, changing management practices of fallen trees, and improving forest fire management.

Today’s meeting brings together representatives of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, and regional departments of forestry and hunting, in addition to experts from forest protection enterprises, the private sector, and research institutions.

Ukraine already is working on climate change issues, but the topic has not yet been incorporated into national or sub-national policies and strategies for the agriculture sector.

Meetings like this can help stakeholders adapt and respond to changing information needs while increasing communication collaboration, said Mikhail Malkov, coordinator of FAO development programmes in Ukraine.

“We should always remember the significant progress in the international forest policy arena, such as the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests,” he said.

The overall aim of the FAO project is to assess current and projected climate conditions in Ukraine, create estimates of vulnerability and risk levels, and identify priority areas for action. The findings will be incorporated into a single document to be submitted to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine by mid-spring.

Ukraine joined FAO in 2003 and is partnering with various FAO projects in the country and in the region. Since 2015, FAO has been operating in Ukraine in two directions: an emergency response programme implemented in conflict-affected eastern Ukraine, and an agriculture development programme with nationwide coverage.

23 February 2018, Kyiv, Ukraine

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