Russia, Europe, & Eurasia
[collapsed title=Armenia]Armenia is one of three countries (including Georgia and Azerbaijan) that make up the Southern Caucasus. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Armenia, small and land-locked, suffered from the sudden decrease of imports, notably of energy—leading to an energy crisis in the 1990s. The country’s natural resources, already limited, have faced multiple pressures, such as the decrease and degradation of forest cover as the population turned to fuelwood to replace other energy sources. However, renewed attention has focused on finding solutions to these challenges, which provides an opportunity for productive collaboration.
The U.S. Forest Service is building partnerships in Armenia to help address some of these challenges to resource sustainability. Recent trainings for government agencies and non-governmental organizations have focused primarily on responsible mining management and on forest nurseries and forest restoration practices. The U.S. Forest Service has worked with key partners, including Hyantar (Armenian Forestry Agency), Armenia Tree Project, and the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets, to build capacity on these and other natural resource topics through consultations, workshops, and hosting Armenian participants in U.S. based international seminars. [/collapsed]
[collapsed title=Balkans ]For almost two decades, the U.S. Forest Service has worked with U.S. and international partners to carry out regional level technical cooperation activities in the Balkans on topics such as watershed management, combating illegal logging, recreation and protected area management, payment for ecosystem services, fire management and emergency response, development of forest law and policy, non-timber forest products, timber management, and others. Lakes, rivers, forests, grasslands, and animals cross international borders, as do fire, floods and other natural disasters. Regional collaboration provides these former conflict-oriented countries with an opportunity to refocus on working together to solve common problems in the protection and managed-use of their natural resources. Current regional cooperation focuses on illegal logging and wildlife trafficking; economic development through forest commercialization; private forestry and sustainable development; and wildland fire and emergency response.
The U.S. Forest Service has also worked bilaterally with a number of countries in the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Macedonia. In Albania, collaboration has focused on sustainable development of the herbs and spices industry, nature-based tourism, and watershed management. In Bosnia and Herzegovina cooperation has focused primarily on sustainable forest use and timber management. Cooperative efforts with Bulgaria have sought to improve forest management through capacity building to the woods products sector, forest policy development, and wildland fire management. And, targeted cooperation with the Republic of Kosovo was initiated in 2014 with Kosovar participation in the U.S. Forest Service’s International Watershed Management Seminar and onsite consultation to several private forest owners associations leading up to a regional training. Cooperation in Macedonia has primarily focused on fire management and U.S. Forest Service participation in a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe country-level environmental performance review. The U.S. Forest Service continues to explore options for bilateral cooperation in this region.[/collapsed]
[collapsed title=Central Asia]The countries of Central Asia include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Central Asian countries face numerous challenges in the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, and also have a surprising number of parallels with land management challenges in the United States.
Given the range of threats in Central Asia and analogous natural resource management issues in arid areas of the US, significant opportunities exist for the U.S. Forest Service to work collaboratively with counterpart government agencies, non-governmental organizations, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), other donors, and organizations to implement sustainable natural resource management practices. By working with partners in Central Asia, U.S. Forest Service experts may gain important insight into approaches for managing natural resources in the face of a changing world.
The U.S. Forest Service has been engaged in Central Asia on several topics over the past several years. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service is focused on range/pasture management and protected areas management, and is exploring further opportunities, particularly in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Previously, the U.S. Forest Service has assisted USAID in conducting a biodiversity assessment for Central Asia, designing a payment for ecosystem services schemes in local watersheds, assessed opportunities for expanding and improving agroforestry practices, and evaluated opportunities for trans-boundary conservation in the Pamir Mountains.
The U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with U.S. Agency for International Development, is working to reduce threats to sustainability in targeted watersheds, increase capacity for integrated natural resource management within key institutions, and catalyze the development of more enabling policy and institutional frameworks. Technical assistance has been provided to the agencies within the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Adjara Environmental Directorate on sustainable forest management and other natural resource management issues that affect Georgian landscapes and watersheds. Cooperation topics have included mining management, sustainable forestry planning, wildfire management, pasture management, and trainings on a variety of topics such as forest roads best practices, watershed management, forest restoration and nurseries. In addition to our work with government agencies, the U.S. Forest Service has worked extensively with non-governmental partners to build capacity and create opportunities for collaboration between non-governmental organizations and government agencies by bringing stakeholders together for trainings and consultations.
[collapsed title=Russia] The U.S. Forest Service has collaborated with Russian counterparts on technical issues for over 60 years. Given the magnitude of Russia’s forests—approximately 22 percent of the world’s total forested area—environmental protection and forest sustainability are of global significance. Since U.S. and Russian forests share similar species and landscapes as well as common threats and challenges, information exchange and technical cooperation is mutually beneficial. Over the years, U.S. Forest Service engagement has taken various forms; long-term cooperation between the two countries has fostered innovative solutions to pressing natural resource issues and has resulted in productive partnerships. Most recently, U.S. Forest Service cooperation with Russia has focused on sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation, community engagement, and efforts to combat illegal logging. The Agency is currently engaged in a range of technical cooperation programs with Russian partners to promote the effective governance and management of natural resources.
For more details on this long-term partnership between the two countries, read the blog post written by the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Tefft: http://amb-tefft.livejournal.com/5214.html (link is external)
[collapsed title=Ukraine] The U.S. Forest Service has been working in Ukraine for more than 15 years. Ukraine’s forested area is among the largest in Eastern Europe—about 19 million acres (7.8 million hectares); thus the ability of land management agencies to sustainably manage forest and natural resources is of great importance to Ukraine and the region. The U.S. Forest Service is working with U.S. and Ukrainian government and non-governmental partners on a range of technical cooperation programs, which promote effective governance and management of natural resources.
[collapsed title=Wildland Fire Response Coordination and Suppression]
The U.S. Forest Service works in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to provide technical assistance to the Government of Ukraine on coordination of wildland fire response in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. U.S. Forest Service wildland fire leaders provide training and technical assistance in wildland fire suppression. Concurrently, U.S. and Ukrainian fire scientists collaborate to better understand ways to prevent and suppress wildland fire in one of the most contaminated places on earth. [/collapsed]
[collapsed title=Sustainable Tourism]
The U.S. Forest Service has worked for many years with local partners to improve tourism development and management for national parks and forests in Ukraine. Technical cooperation activities include, training and nature interpretation certification for park rangers, consultations on recreation planning and visitor management, and capacity building workshops on how to engage volunteers in parks. Our Agency has also provided training and support to help Protected Areas develop partnerships with nonprofit organizations to improve access to external resources and build economic opportunities for local communities. [/collapsed]
[collapsed title=Watershed Management]
The U.S. Forest Service is working with local partners in Ukraine to improve watershed management. As a first step, our specialists have been training Ukrainian counterparts on how to use the U.S. Forest Service Watershed Condition Framework to assess the state of a watershed, and have been assisting with the development of a localized model for Ukraine. This Ukrainian watershed model will help improve decision-making efforts related to important sources of water. Collaboration has also included discussion of methods of sustainable timber harvest that can prevent erosion runoff from reaching stream beds, thus reducing the threat of flooding in some of Ukraine’s more vulnerable mountain communities. [/collapsed]
[collapsed title=Youth and Volunteer Engagement]
Natural resource management provides an excellent platform for engaging youth and children in democracy-building and development of civil society. In this vein, he U.S. Forest Service provides support for a Junior Forest Ranger program in Western Ukraine designed to bring together schools, communities, and state forest agencies. These stakeholders collaborate to educate and engage youth, so that they will better understand the importance of ecosystems and ways to use and protect forest resources wisely. Participating youth receive leadership training and engage other students and community members carry out year-round activities in the community. The U.S. Forest Service also supports other school programs and summer camp programs throughout the year, including support for urban forestry activities. [/collapsed]