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Programmatic Approach on Forest Management in South Asia


Countries in South Asia are increasingly committed to the improved management of the region’s forests, including for the purpose of making progress towards individual Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for mitigating and adapting to climate change. 

However, South Asia faces significant challenges in managing its forest sector. For example, decades of conflict in Afghanistan have led to substantial forest loss, while in India, forest cover has stabilized but forest quality is deteriorating. In other countries, development pressures from expanding settlements and agriculture are driving the conversion of forestlands.

As the pressures on forests continue to grow, it is imperative to better understand and measure the current economic contribution of forests, including the costs of forest degradation. It is equally important to assess the efficacy of current regulations and policies around forests, accompanied by an assessment of institutions and technical capacity, where needed. Lack of policies on payments for ecosystem services, for instance, can hinder beneficial forest management activities for reducing sediment in the upper catchments of hydropower plants, or prevent communities from benefitting from such payment mechanisms. At the same time, weak institutions and lack of technical capacity can prevent even the most progressive forest policies from supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth. 


The objective of this activity is to inform policy dialogue and strategic engagement on forests with South Asian countries as governments move towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth. This programmatic approach consists of the following activities:

  • Afghanistan Capacity Development for Natural Resource Management (NRM): In Afghanistan, conflict and the lack of adequate governance structures and management and institutional capacity have heavily damaged the natural resource base that the majority of the population relies on, particularly in rural areas. This activity aims to: (i) raise awareness about the NRM role in supporting livelihoods, enhancing resilience, and reducing vulnerability to climate change and disaster risks; and (ii) assess the capacity of key institutions to implement the newly adopted NRM Strategy.
  • Forests, Poverty and Resilience in Bangladesh: The World Bank is undertaking a Country Environmental Analysis focused on urban areas, to demonstrate cost-effective development pathways that tackle acute pollution levels and natural resource degradation in Dhaka, while at the same time controlling congestion and environmental externalities in newly growing cities. As part of this larger activity, PROFOR funding will support an investigation into natural infrastructure’s potential benefits for climate resilience in urban areas and peripheries. Outputs will include an analytical report on the cost of forest degradation in terms of lost revenues, incomes for local communities, and increased damage from extreme events; engagement workshops to consult key stakeholders and discuss the direction of the assessments, the preliminary findings and policy implications; and dissemination workshops.
  • India Forest Sector Assessment: To better understand current and emerging challenges in forest management, this activity will assess the demand and supply of forest and timber resources in India, as well as the economic costs of the timber trade and forest fires, and the scope for forest-related agribusinesses to generate jobs. In addition, the activity will identify options for restoring degraded forests, sustainably managing forests, and strengthening forest monitoring and evaluation.
  • Pakistan Forestry Sector Engagement Study: Pakistan’s diverse forest resources face rapid deterioration as a result of land conversion by large development projects, and overexploitation by poor communities who have few livelihood alternatives. In response, this activity aims to better understand the contribution of the forestry sector to achieving the country’s development priorities. PROFOR is supporting a review of forest sector policies and management practices through the collection and analysis of secondary information, as well as stakeholder consultations with federal and provincial government officials, development partners, civil society organizations and research institutions.
  • Nepal Forests, Poverty and Tourism: The aim of this project is to strengthen the Government of Nepal’s capacity to better manage its natural resources, to deliver on its national goal to reduce poverty through sustainable and inclusive growth. The activity outputs will include: (i) A policy assessment of current practices in management of natural resources, including for tourism purposes and current and potential linkages between conservation, hydropower development, and tourism; and (ii) an engagement note describing the potential contributions of forests to economic growth and jobs, sustainable water resources management, and hydropower development.
  • General Knowledge Management: To disseminate the knowledge generated from the various country activities, this component will share experiences and best practices among policy makers and technical experts from the region, including through workshops and study tours, and produce regional and cross-country policy briefs to inform forests investments and policy design.


  • In Afghanistan, this activity has supported stakeholder mapping of relevant actors’ capacity and influence in the NRM sector; engagement with government and partner organizations; a video conference on climate finance; a capacity assessment technical workshop for Afghanistan’s Natural Resources Management Strategy; and a final report.
  • In Bangladesh, a background paper on “Managing Urban Wetlands for Resilience” is being developed, laying out the case for protecting and restoring urban wetlands as an essential component of Bangladesh’s urban development agenda. A workshop was held to share preliminary findings with various government ministries, and also received significant media coverage.
  • In India, a report is being finalized on forest fire prevention and management practices in India. A workshop was held in New Delhi to identify relevant lessons from experiences in other countries, and build consensus for areas to improve and how to address these in a national action plan. In addition, work on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is underway, and is already informing the design on the World Bank Himachal Pradesh Forest for Prosperity Project. This study aims to provide an overview of the potential and constraints affecting the market development of important NTFP products collected in state-owned forest lands by local communities and marketed through existing private and public channels.
  • In Nepal, a joint paper with T&C is being produced to inform the World Bank Nepal Tourism Project. In addition, case studies are underway looking at nature-based tourism that provide community benefits while managing environmental impacts.   
  • In Pakistan, a study is being finalized on the forest sector, its key economic and ecological contributions, and the relevant challenges. 

This activity is ongoing. Findings will be shared on this page when they become available.

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Last Updated : 12-13-2018