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$3.2 million GEF grant targets Serbian forests

Serbia’s forests will benefit from a US$ 3.2 million grant just approved by the Council of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The grant will finance a four-year FAO project aimed at long-term forest health through sustainable management.

Forestry is important for Serbia. Almost a third of the country’s territory is covered by forests, and the sector accounts for 2.3 percent of total gross domestic product. Yet, a national forest inventory in 2009 found forests overall to be in poor condition, with unfavourable structures, poor health, and lack of natural regeneration.

The FAO project will help Serbia revise its current development strategy and legislation concerning forests, incorporating sustainability objectives and modern principles of multifunctional forest management. Conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change will also become important considerations in forestry decision making.

For a smooth implementation of these principles, some 120 experts – forest users and representatives of forestry administration and institutes – will receive training from FAO on forest management including carbon, forest restoration, methods for controlling forest degradation, and related topics.

The first area to come under multifunctional forest management could be 80 000 hectares of land in the buffer zone of Tara Mountain National Park. An integrated sustainable forest management plan, to be developed and tested there, should increase forest cover by 5 percent, resulting in sequestration of 954,200 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. In carrying out these activities, FAO will be working in partnership with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Endorsement by the GEF Council clears the way for initial project activities to commence in the coming weeks. Initial activities will include a capacity needs assessment and development of the full-size project.

14 April 2016, Budapest, Hungary

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