The closing event of Phase 1 and the launch of Phase 2 of the Andean Forests Program took place on 2 and 3 October. It was attended by over 50 representatives from public and private entities, the Andean communities of Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru and international cooperation partners (SDC; WRI, UN REDD) who analyzed the achievements of the first stage of the program, and started to move ahead on the next activities and strategies of regional collaboration and the communities that live in the Andean forests and whose livelihood depends on them, at an altitude of between 1000 masl and 4000 masl.
At the conclusion of Phase 1, SDC consolidated the experience of work with local communities and encouraged regional collaboration, based both on this experience and the knowledge gained in areas ranging from science to politics, which will foster concrete action for the conservation, sustainable use, appreciation and restoration of montane forests in the Andes.
Francisco Medina, regional director of the Andean Forests Programme, facilitated the event, while Martin Jaggi, director of Swiss Cooperation (SDC) gave the welcoming words. We share them in the following videos.
SDC can now take advantage of all the lessons learned, the interaction, strategies promoted and knowledge accumulated to replicate them and scale them up, starting with advocacy, facilitating governance at different levels, and linking up synergies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Sharing achievements and experience
The first day of the event offered four panels for sharing the achievements made in the five years of Phase 1, in the following topics: i) Monitoring Andean forests, ii) Management and restoration of Andean forest landscapes, iii) Financial mechanisms to value and encourage the eco-system services of Andean forest landscapes, and iv) Advances in placing Andean forests and making them visible in public policies.
The event was an opportunity to share the achievements and important progress made in the Andes in the development of knowledge and mechanisms for appreciating and managing montane forest restoration and conservation.
It is important to remember that the Andean forest ecosystems of South America cover a little over 30 million hectares and are in their natural state. Some 69 million men and women are living near them in cities and towns that are constantly growing, and are using their ecosystem services. To date, the countries of the Andean region have been taking important steps to position the importance of Andean forests in public policies for combatting climate change, since these ecosystems are strategic for a number of issues including biodiversity conservation, water regulation and conservation beyond carbon sequestration.
Challenges for the Second Phase – Pending Agenda
Francisco Medina, the regional director of Bosques Andinos, began the second day with a presentation of the strategy and scope of the Programme’s second phase, emphasizing i) knowledge generation and its socialization and use, and ii) the importance of stronger policy instruments and financing mechanisms.
Martin Jaggi, director of Swiss Cooperation (SDC), stressed the importance of consolidation, “Now is the time to capitalise on the work of the first phase, and to focus more on advocacy in the region and globally”, he said.
On the second day there were two panels, covering: i) country presentation of the main contexts and agendas regarding Andean forests and climate change for the next few years; and ii) the presentation of regional initiatives, highlighting opportunities for collaboration among countries. Download the presentations here
Panel 1. Country Presentations
The panel made the most of the event to look for opportunities and proposals for collaboration between the countries of the region and to strengthen Andean forest management in the second phase, now beginning. Luis Albán, coordinator of the Andean Forests Programme, was the moderator.
Panel 2. Regional Initiatives Presentation
Across the region, the Andean forests continue to host species of flora and fauna which are important because of their ecological functions. Many are emblematic and representative of the Andes, while others are necessary for the traditional medicine and food of rural Andean communities. They are the pride of the region and their conservation is a challenge. The current fragility of these ecosystems must be alleviated to ensure their conservation and that future generations will be able to use them. The presentations also highlighted the fact that montane forests are a very fragile ecosystem, because of the steep slopes and extreme weather, in addition to the loss of habitat through human activity that aggravates biodiversity and soil loss.
The panel demonstrated the work on montane forests in the Andean region, which includes facilitating procedures, learning and implementation, moving from individual capacities towards a regional vision. The agenda pending is the urgent need to include mountain forests in the Andes in national and sub-national systems for monitoring and reporting land use; and the need to further knowledge on the impact of changes in land use in the Andes on goods and services for major Andean cities, and the urgency of including the demands of Andean forests at the global level. It is noteworthy that over US$9 million in counterpart funds have been leveraged in the initiatives implemented in the region’s Andean forests, in addition to over US$ 6 million in international cooperation.
At the end of the two days of intense work, Francisco Medina, regional director of the Andean Forests Programme spoke of the need to take urgent action in the face of forest fragmentation and degradation stemming from different reasons in each of the countries. He stated that in Phase 2, it will be strategic to promote regional cooperation mechanisms and a task force on Andean forests, based on strengthening technical, scientific and institutional capacities for the good of these ecosystems.
Martin Jaggi, director of the Swiss Cooperation (SDC), stressed that the event had made it possible to strengthen action and cohesion in the network of the allies of Andean forests, and that Switzerland remains committed to their conservation and restoration by enhancing the services these ecosystems offer in the face of climate change.
Bosques Andinos is an initiative implemented in the countries that form part of the Andean mountain range. It is part of the Global Climate Change and Environment Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is facilitated by the consortium HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation (Condesan).