WASHINGTON, June 7, 2022 — The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved today a $142 million concessional credit for Uzbekistan. The financing will support a project that aims to increase the area under sustainable landscape management, restore degraded forested lands in various regions of the country, and promote Uzbekistan’s collaboration with other Central Asian countries on transboundary landscape restoration. This project is part of the Resilient Landscapes in Central Asia Program (RESILAND CA+) that aims to increase resilience to further desertification, landscape degradation and climate change.
To implement the project, the International Development Association (IDA), part of the World Bank Group, will provide the concessional financing to the Government of Uzbekistan at a low-interest rate, with a repayment period of 30 years, including a five-year grace period.
The project will also benefit from the financial support provided by the trust funds – the Korea - World Bank Partnership Facility ($3 million) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable and Resilient Landscapes ($8 million).
Uzbekistan has low forest coverage, with an estimated 3.68 million hectares of land covered with forested lands, corresponding to 8.6 percent of the land area. Over the past 30 years, the area of forested and other wooded lands has been degraded because of uncontrolled animal husbandry, increasing demand for industrial and fuel wood due to limited energy sources in rural areas, and expansion of irrigated agriculture into forests. Other degradation factors have been the changing climatic conditions, which could be associated with an increased incidence of wildfires and pest and disease outbreaks.
The project approved today will contribute to the goals of the new Country Partnership Framework for 2022-2026 aimed at supporting the Government of Uzbekistan in implementing the next phase of reforms in its transition toward an inclusive and sustainable market economy. One of its priority areas is to advance environmental sustainability in the context of significant exposure to climate change.
“The new World Bank-funded project will help implement the Concept for Developing Uzbekistan’s Forest System by 2030, adopted by the Government in October 2020,” noted Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan. “Through tree-based landscape restoration interventions in the areas with degraded lands, the project will contribute to increased resilience of landscapes, food systems, people and infrastructure, creation of natural resource management-based jobs and small and medium enterprises, and investments in nature-based tourism and protected areas.”
The State Committee on Forestry of Uzbekistan will implement the project, including some of the below-mentioned activities:
- Support the development of Uzbekistan’s first National Forest Inventory, as well as the development of an ICT platform for the State Forest Committee to transform it into a modern and efficient organization.
- Implement tree-based interventions (agroforestry, plantations, fruit trees, silvopastoral systems) in landscapes to restore degraded lands in various regions with productive activities and provide short-term employment to the local communities by implementing a Green-Wager Program.
- Deliver financial and business-related training services to local farmers to develop natural resource management-based small and medium enterprises.
- Promote sustainable management of protected areas and forest reserves, and sustainable nature-based tourism. To develop natural-based tourism in Uzbekistan, the project will finance the construction of basic infrastructure, visitor centers, tourist and administrative facilities, areas for camping, picnics and other recreational activities, trail systems, etc., in the protected areas and forest reserves.
The World Bank’s country program in Uzbekistan is the largest in the Europe and Central Asia region, after Turkey. It consists of 29 projects, with net commitments totaling around US$5.4 billion. They provide support in critical areas, such as macroeconomic reforms and the modernization of agriculture, water resource management, water supply and sanitation, energy, transport, health, education, social protection, urban and rural infrastructure, national innovation, tax administration, and statistical systems, and will also help in the mitigation of the health, social, and economic implications of the pandemic.