Building Capacity for Implementing Community Forestry in Afghanistan

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From 14–18 December 2015, a team of Afghani officials participated in a study visit to Nepal to learn about community-based forestry management. Organized by ICIMOD’s Wakhan Corridor Initiative, the objective of the visit was to build the capacity of Afghanistan in implementing community forestry by learning from Nepal’s experiences. Other objectives included exchange with Nepalese counterparts on the issues that Afghanistan is facing in promoting community forestry, the identification of possibilities and approaches for initiating REDD+ in Afghanistan, and the identification of areas of learning for a second visit to Nepal in 2016 by an expanded team from the provinces. The Constitution of Afghanistan and its Forestry Law both emphasize the importance of community-based natural resources management and over 400 community forestry associations have been established in the past few years.

The five-member team was led by Mr Ahmad Shah Amarkhil, Head of Forest Rehabilitation and Expansion, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), Afghanistan. Other members of the team included forestry officials from MAIL and the provinces of Kabul, Bagdis, and Kunar and an official in charge of climate change issues from the Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the visit, the team visited ICIMOD’s headquarters and Godavari Knowledge Park, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, the Federation of Community Forestry User Groups Nepal (FECOFUN), and communities in Dulikhel. The team also interacted with ICIMOD professionals, government officials, local NGO staff, and local community members on a wide range of issues related to community-based forestry management. At ICIMOD, experts presented on the REDD+ mechanism and how ICIMOD is supporting member countries to access REDD+ funds. They also discussed with the team the possibility of initiating similar activities in Afghanistan. 

At the end of the visit, the participants said that they were impressed by the involvement of local communities and the adoption of democratic mechanisms in the management of forest resources in Nepal. They said that the visit had greatly increased their knowledge of the concepts and practices involved in community-based forestry management.