Building a Multiple-Use Forest Management Framework to Conserve Biodiversity in the Caspian Hyrcanian Forest Landscape

Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Forest Ecoregion is located in Northern Iran along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and Northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains


The Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Forest Ecoregion is listed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a Global 200 Ecoregion. It represents important biodiversity and landscape values that provide multiple environmental, social and economic benefits to the Iranian people. The region is also of deep cultural significance and still exhibits many traditional ways of life among local communities. The forests cover an area of approximately 1.8 million hectares in Northern Iran. A total of 7.3 million people live in the Caspian Hyrcanian Landscape, with a population density of 126 people per km2, which is 2.7 times greater than for the country as a whole.

The Government of Iran and UNDP have joined forces to build institutional and local capacities for multi-purpose management, conservation and restoration of the forests, all with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The project aims to conserve biodiversity in key landscapes within the eco-region. It does so by strengthening the national and local policy frameworks governing competing land-uses in the Caspian Forests enhancing the rights and roles of the local communities in multi-purpose management of forest ecosystems and demonstrating strategies of improving management.

What have we accomplished so far:

  • Improved methods: The forest management approach has been changed and improved from traditional timber-based practices to community-based multi-purpose forestry approaches.
  • Biodiversity: Special areas for biodiversity were introduced in the Hyrcanian Forest to safeguard valuable biodiversity resources through new models and approaches, in line with the project’s overall goal.
  • Empowerment of local communities: Substantive work has been done through community mobilization efforts to empower local communities to take part in community forestry, livelihood development, waste management, etc. This, among other things, resulted in local communities being involved with planting over 300 hectares of forests.
  • Participatory management of forest basins: Integrated Management Plans were developed for four pilot sites of the project which have been implemented since mid-2016.
  • Livelihoods: Community groups (involving also marginalized groups, herders, youth, and women) have been established in pilot project locations to manage different aspects of multi-use forestry such as ecotourism, non-timber forest products, timber extraction and handicrafts. The aim is to improve the livelihoods of local communities. A number of self-help groups of mainly women have been established for the production of handicrafts and promoting local community livelihoods.
  • Integration and inter-sectoral coordination: Regional and local inter-sectoral coordination mechanisms were established under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Forest, Rangelands and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO) and the Governors of three provinces in Caspian Hyrcanian Region. Mutual trust and understanding between local communities and government is being built.
  • Knowledge: A comprehensive knowledge base has been established for the Hyrcanian Forests consisting of socio-economic studies, economic valuation studies, forest cover and condition, flora, birds and mammals.

Source: IR.UNDP, 2017