FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

North Macedonia ready for national forest monitoring

Pelister mountain, Bitola, North Macedonia

North Macedonia has reached an important milestone in the sustainable management of its forests. With a sound forest monitoring system designed, the country is now able to take further steps in improving policies and decision-making to increase Macedonian forests’ contributions to national sustainable development.

Designing a state-of-the-art forest monitoring system tailored to the country’s needs and conditions has been the focus of a two-year project of FAO and the Macedonian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, concluding with a workshop in Skopje today. Nearly 40 representatives of key ministries, national forest entities, agencies, academia, civil society, international partners and the media were brought together to learn about and discuss the proposed design of the national forest monitoring system, including its various aspects and possible implementation options.

Inefficient management of forest resources and a lack of accurate data and have been key challenges in the Macedonian forestry sector. At the same time, the country’s pledges under the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda, and the ongoing European Union accession process impose substantial environmental, economic and sustainability requirements on the forestry sector. To address these issues, FAO worked with the Ministry and an independent entity, the national Faculty of Forestry, to assess the methodology for implementation of a national forest inventory while strengthening their knowledge base and establishing a broad consensus on how to monitor the status, use and changes over time of Macedonian forests.

A detailed remote sensing survey was carried out, using high-resolution satellite imagery to generate information on land use and changes. Findings show that forests (43 percent) and other wooded lands (16.8 percent) make up more than half of the country’s territory, confirming the economic, social and environmental significance of the forestry sector in North Macedonia.

In opening the workshop, Nefrus Celiku, State Secretary of the Macedonian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, emphasized that forestry is a huge resource providing great potential in terms of both classical forest products and various ecosystem services. He added that political and economic changes in the Republic of North Macedonia, in view of the EU integration processes, require a holistic focus on reforms in forest management, policy and practices in the broader context of environmental protection, biodiversity and climate change. This project is therefore an important baseline for the systematic forestry planning and information management system that the country needs, he concluded.

“From now on, monitoring of Macedonian forests can be performed with modern methods providing reliable and accurate information,” stressed FAO forestry officer Norbert Winkler-Ráthonyi. “Only high-quality information can be used for multi-functional national planning, policy and evidence-based decision-making to address current and future forestry-related issues and to fulfill international reporting obligations related to biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation.”

Looking to the future, Winkler-Ráthonyi expressed hope for continued collaboration.

“The national forest inventory design is opening opportunities to strengthen the national capacities to work collaboratively for effective management and sustainable development of forestry in North Macedonia,” he said.

He added that, building on current efforts, FAO stands ready to collaborate with the Macedonian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy and other national and international partners in the next phase of implementing the national forest monitoring and information system.

15 May 2019, Skopje, North Macedonia