Restoring mountain forests for recovered, resilient and sustainable mountain countries


The Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations (UN) in New York, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries and with the collaboration of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, organized a side event on the margins of the 16th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

Representatives of mountainous Member States and relevant stakeholders discussed protecting mountain forests for building resilient economies and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In her introductory remarks, Her Excellency Mirgul Moldoisaeva, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, underlined how – despite global acknowledgement of forests’ key role in sustaining the global climate and contributing to sustainable economic development – total global land area covered by trees continues to shrink.

“Principles of multilateralism and leaving no one behind play a key role in the search for solutions to address the current challenges to the stability of mountainous forest ecosystems, as an integral part of the common UN agenda on forests’ protection,” said Ambassador Moldoisaeva.

Ambassadors of Bhutan, Lebanon, Peru and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs highlighted the importance of mountain forests for providing ecosystem services and supporting livelihoods in their keynote speeches. They underlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the most marginalized groups.

“Mountains and their forest are not just the heritage of mankind, they are the green lungs of our planet,” said Her Excellency Doma Tshering, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the UN. “Preserving our mountain ecosystems is a bedrock of our livelihoods, food security and health. Investing in sustainable mountain development to build the resilience of mountains and to address the situation of mountain communities should be a global priority.”

A panel discussion followed, moderated by Yuka Makino, FAO Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator, with representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme, Peru’s National Institute for Research on Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and Helvetas in Peru.

Opening the session, Ms Makino noted the urgency to increase efforts to promote mountains and encouraged closer collaboration between the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries and the Mountain Partnership. The interventions that followed covered the restoration of mountain forests; the importance of Andean landscapes; regional initiatives for the conservation of mountain forests and ecosystems for the benefit of local peoples, the economy and the global common good; and the necessity of investments for scaling up projects to safeguard mountain ecosystems.

In statements made during the question and answer session, representatives of the governments of Afghanistan, Andorra, Austria, Morocco, Nepal and Uzbekistan pledged their commitment to the mountain cause, underlining the relevance of mountains and forests for their respective countries.

Ambassador Moldoisaeva closed the event, thanking the speakers and participants for their contributions. She said, “Our event confirmed the importance of multilateralism and the key issues to address for restoring mountain forests for recovered, resilient and sustainable mountain countries.”

Forests cover 31 percent of the global land area according to the 2020 State of the World’s Forests report by FAO, and mountain forests make up to 28 percent of all natural forest cover worldwide. Mountain forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services, such as stabilizing slopes, regulating the hydrological cycles, maintaining rich biodiversity and supporting livelihoods. They also play a significant role in disaster risk reduction in mountain regions by protecting people, settlements and infrastructure against natural hazards including avalanches, landslides or flood.

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Photo by Bobby Rahe on Unsplash

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