The SAFE Project Webinar Successfully Showcases Interim Forest Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Plans

On June 3, 2024, the webinar for Output 1 of the “Sustaining an Abundance of Forest and Ecosystems (SAFE)” project was successfully held. The event saw active participation from various relevant stakeholders, including representatives from UNEP, the AFoCO Project team, In-country consultants, the Lead Consultant, and government partners from each country. This webinar focused on presenting the Interim Forest Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Implementation Plans for Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam. The aim was to showcase the comprehensive methodology and deliverables.

During the webinar, the Lead Consultant Mr. Orlando Panganiban presented the methodologies and deliverables of SAFE Output 1. Following his presentation, In-country consultants shared the Interim Implementation Plans for their respective countries.

Cambodia led its efforts by identifying and prioritizing community forests for conservation and restoration. The country-level implementation plan developed through the SAFE project provided a strategic framework that combined traditional knowledge with modern conservation techniques, such as GIS-based mapping. These methodologies were utilized to determine critical habitats for endangered species while integrating the needs and inputs of local communities. The plan not only focused on ecological sustainability but also on boosting local livelihoods through sustainable forest management practices. Cambodia’s approach underscored the importance of community engagement, ensuring that conservation efforts were aligned with local socio-economic realities and priorities.

In Lao PDR, the initiative targeted conservation areas with significant ecological challenges and opportunities. The Laotian plan aimed to increase the coverage of protected areas and enhance their management effectiveness. This was achieved by employing community-led forest management practices that emphasized participatory planning and stakeholder involvement. Laos’s implementation strategy highlighted the establishment of robust monitoring frameworks and capacity-building activities to ensure the health and resilience of forest landscapes. Special attention was given to integrating biodiversity conservation with community development, thereby supporting local livelihoods through enhanced forest products and services.

Vietnam’s implementation plan focused on areas severely impacted by deforestation and degradation. The approach taken was multi-faceted, addressing the urgent need for reforestation while also implementing measures to protect existing forest cover. Vietnam combined advanced scientific methodologies with local community knowledge to create a comprehensive management plan that included the restoration of native species and the implementation of sustainable forest management practices. The plan prioritized the involvement of local communities and stakeholders in the decision-making process, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility toward forest conservation.

After the country-specific presentations, consolidated insights and recommendations were presented by the Lead Consultant. This segment served as an important platform for participants to review and discuss the interim plans, facilitating an exchange of ideas. An open forum session with a Q&A followed, fostering engaging discussions that led to adjustments and enhancements to ensure the plans’ effectiveness and relevance. This session was also crucial for aligning the project’s objectives with national conservation priorities and planning the next steps.

In conclusion, the webinar highlighted the progress made and strengthened collaboration between government partners and other stakeholders, setting a solid foundation for the continued success of the SAFE Initiative. As these plans are rolled out in 2024, the focus will shift toward the development of a Community Forest Management Plan for the designated forest area and its five-year operational plan for the selected project sites.

The success of these plans will be measured not just by the health and sustainability of the forests but also by the well-being of the communities that depend on them. The SAFE project aims to create a replicable model of community-led forest management that can be adapted and implemented across other regions, promoting a global shift towards more sustainable and inclusive forest conservation practices.

Submitted by Ms. Minyoung Jeong, Assistant Program Officer

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