Wildlife Initiative for Central Asia and the Caucasus (WICAC)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) have established a strategic partnership to assist the countries from the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia in conserving their rich biodiversity, and more particularly, to create an enabling environment for the sustainable use of its rich wildlife resources for the benefit of the national and local economies.
Wildlife is one of the most valuable renewable natural resources in the region. Its sustainable management can create commercial opportunities and provide sustained economic, social and environmental benefits. The added value through its sustainable use (hunting tourism or other forms of nature tourism) can provide employment and opportunities for income diversification. At the same time it supports biodiversity conservation and other environmental objectives.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic and the Czech Forestry and Game Management Research Institute, FAO and CIC launched back in 2006 a new initiative to assist the countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia regions to strengthen their wildlife sectors and promote responsible and sustainable hunting that contributes to the improvement of rural livelihoods.
This cooperation which started in Prague in 2006 is now known as the “Wildlife Initiative for Central Asia and the Caucasus” (WICAC).
One of the key findings of the 1st WICAC workshop in Prague in 2006 was the general “weakness of wildlife management policy and legislation” in the participating countries. Consequently, the necessary and appropriate legal framework for wildlife management was in the focus from the very beginning.
The Antalya workshop also concentrated on the general “weakness of wildlife management policy and legislation” in the participating countries.
The 3rd WICAC workshop was organized and implemented in Prague, Czech Republic in 2009 on “Improving Policy, Institutions, Legislation and Practices for Sustainable Use and Conservation of Wildlife Resources” where the participants concluded and identified the required measures as follows:
- Continue cooperation and networking within the region
- Improve organization and management of all types of wildlife use
- Involve rural communities and other stakeholders; address ownership of wildlife and user rights; review benefits sharing
- Analyse and improve the economics of wildlife use
- It would be appreciated, if the following event could be organized in Central Asia
In light of the findings of the 3rd WICAC workshop and in particular in order to address community participation, the 4th workshop was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in September 2010. The workshop’s main aim was to build capacity of the participating countries for developing participatory methodologies to ensure community participation in sustainable wildlife management and to propose activities that would strengthen policies, institutions and capacities for sustainable wildlife management so as to be able to contribute better to food security and poverty alleviation in rural communities. Hence, the participants were asked to especially focus on the following issues:
- Evaluation of progress made so far;
- Better understanding of main principles of sustainable wildlife management;
- Increased understanding of the importance of community involvement in and contribution to the development of the wildlife sector;
- Sharing of best practice examples and identification of the driving factors of successful wildlife management;
- Identification of project ideas to address the needs and priorities of each participating country;
- Information on knowledge sharing networks to facilitate implementation of identified policy options.