Rehabilitation of forest landscapes in Iran

Rehabilitation of forest landscapes and degraded land with particular attention to saline soils and areas prone to wind erosion

Background
More than 70 percent of land and forests in Iran are in hyper-arid, arid, semi-arid and sub-humid zones. The extreme scarcity of water and harsh living conditions result in a vicious cycle of poverty and food insecurity, whereby rural dwellers are compelled to over-exploit their fragile resources to provide for their basic needs.  As a consequence overgrazing, unsustainable harvesting of fuel-wood and change in land use - from forests to rangelands - further intensify land degradation, poverty and food insecurity.

The project
Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO), through its Desert Affairs Bureau (DAB), will be the primary technical executing partner responsible for ensuring the overall achievement of project objectives, outcomes and outputs, with the technical and administrative support from FAO.

Objective
The project development objective is to remove barriers to participatory integrated sustainable land and forest management (SLFM) in the Islamic Republic of Iran by:

(i) strengthening capacity of local communities, provincial and local institutions to plan, implement and evaluate participatory and integrated SLFM initiatives at the village and watershed scales;

(ii) adoption and implementation of the defined plans including sustainable alternative livelihood options with socio-economic and environmental benefits sustaining ecosystem services and,

(iii) enhancing capacity at local and national levels to mainstream these approaches into national plans, policies and processes.

The project’s global environmental objective is to reverse and reduce land degradation and biodiversity loss and their subsequent negative impacts on ecosystem health, goods and services, through increased capacity to plan and implement participatory integrated SLFM initiatives based on practical solutions addressing immediate and long term socio-economic needs while ensuring sustainable management of natural resources and sustained ecosystem services on watershed scale.

Activities
Co-funded by the GEF and relevant Government counterparts and supported by a team of international and national consultants, the project proposal involves the following four project components:

(i) Participatory integrated SLFM capacity development;
(ii) Implementation of participatory integrated watershed and village level plans in selected pilot sites;
(iii) Improving the policy and institutional environment for participatory integrated SLFM approach;
(iv-a) Awareness raising and dissemination of best practices and lessons learnt; and
(iv-b) Project management

Strengthened capacity of local communities, provincial and local institutions to plan, propose, implement participatory integrated management and evaluate SLFM initiatives - the outcome of the first component - forms the basis and will define the project intervention. This feeds into the project’s second component where the participatory integrated village and watershed level plans are implemented addressing interlinked challenges of wind erosion, land degradation and biodiversity loss in selected priority sites within two project watersheds. This component will include identification, enhanced understanding and provision of incentives for maintenance of ecosystem services. The third component will strengthen capacity for participation and partnership between local resource users, provincial and national level decision making bodies, such as FRWO and other institutional stakeholders, including the Department of Environment, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Mining etc, together with the private sector, to better understand and promote the participatory integrated SLFM principles and facilitate the review, updating/revision and implementation of supporting policies and regulations. This will be achieved through the establishment of a SLFM platform for local, provincial and national stakeholders involved in planning, decision making and implementation of SLFM plans. The projects’ fourth component will support increased awareness among institutional stakeholders, decision-makers, researchers, university students and the public at large of the importance of the country’s unique biodiversity and landscape. The multisectoral, cross-cutting nature of threats and constraints will be highlighted, possible solutions, best practices and lessons learned identified and disseminated in an effort to increase understanding and solicit the commitment of all stakeholders to the long-term health and sustainability of ecosystems and the services provided by them.

Budget and timeline
Total estimated funding for the five-year project is USD 11 007 134 of which GEF provides USD 2 668 300. Project implementation started in November 2011.

last updated:  Thursday, June 20, 2013