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Participants from 21 countries convene for international climate change seminar

Three seminar participants taking a tree core sample
Seminar participant Abibou Sane (Senegal) takes a tree core sample during a carbon measurement demonstration led by Region 5 Regional Ecologist Hugh Safford. Participants Patrick Okitayela (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Stephen Kankam (Ghana) observe. Forest Service photo by Moses Jackson.

For three weeks this May, 25 participants from 21 countries joined the International Seminar on Climate Change and Natural Resource Management in Washington DC and California. This annual seminar is co-organized by the International Programs office in partnership with the University of California at Davis. Seminar participants came from foreign governments, non-government organizations, U.S. Embassies, and other institutions invested in improving natural resource management practices and policies in their countries.

Forest Service staff in Region 5 played an active role in hosting the group. Regional Forester’s Representative Jerry Bird and Director of State & Private Forestry Sherry Hazelhurst both welcomed the participants.  Regional Ecologist Hugh Safford, Regional Wildlife Ecologist Sarah Sawyer, and experts from the Tahoe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit engaged with the participants through presentations about water and forests in California and field visits in the Tahoe area.  Participants also visited city and state government offices, non-government organizations, and private sector groups.

Throughout the three weeks participants collaborated with subject experts and one another to learn about the impacts of climate change on natural resources, different approaches for managing natural resources in the face of climate change, and policy and technological developments related to climate change adaptation and mitigation, including carbon markets and offsets. Washington DC is an international hub for climate change programs and initiatives, and California is an ideal location to investigate cutting-edge land management practices under climate change. California has exhibited international leadership on climate change legislation and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and is home to a variety of ecosystems affected by climate change and interlinking pressures from water scarcity, agricultural land use, and population growth.

This seminar is one of ten annual seminars organized by the International Programs office. The seminars have significant and long-term impacts on individuals.  Past seminar participant Yitahew Abebe Kibret from Ethiopia said, “In three weeks of seminar, in my opinion, I have gained a year of experience.”  The International Programs office sees these seminars as a way to share best practices from the U.S. and to deepen relationships with global partners.  Visit here for more information on the seminar program.

The seminar group poses for a group photo in Lake Tahoe
The seminar group poses for a group photo at a scenic vista overlooking Lake Tahoe. Forest Service photo by Moses Jackson.


Sustainable Watershed Management Workshop Brings together Protected Area Managers from Across Latin America

The week of May 7th, Forest Service partnered with the University of Montana to conduct the Sustainable Watershed Management Workshop in San Salvador, El Salvador for 24 protected area managers from twelve countries in Central and South America. The workshop was organized by the International Programs office.

Carol Howe, Resource Information Specialist on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, and Shauna Jensen, Hydrologist on the San Juan National Forest, joined professor Keith Bosak from the University of Montana to deliver the workshop. The workshop trained participants in three tools: the Watershed Condition Framework (WCF), the Watershed Vulnerability Assessment (WVA), and Socio-Ecological Systems (SES). Through training in WCF and WVA, two tools developed by the Forest Service, participants gained skills in evaluating watershed health and vulnerability in order to design, implement, and monitor effective management and restoration activities. This was combined with training in SES, a tool that emphasizes the integration of ecological and social systems, encouraging land managers to consider interactions and interdependencies between humans, ecosystems, and wildlife when designing management actions.

Through formal instruction, discussions, group activities, and a field day at the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Biosphere Reserve, the participants gained a strong foundation in these tools and how to use them to manage watersheds and increase watershed resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.

Throughout Latin America, freshwater availability in a variety of ecosystems has been drastically affected by land-use pressures and climate change. In El Salvador, as in other countries in the region, decreased water availability has significant social, economic, and ecological impacts. Since protected areas store much of the region’s freshwater, protected area managers can play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change on water resources. Tools for land managers to evaluate, classify, restore, and monitor watersheds are crucial to help protect water resources and biodiversity, increase water security, and improve livelihoods. 

Two participants by a lake discussing
Participants discuss watershed management design and implementation methodologies at Apaneca-Ilamatepec Biosphere Reserve. Forest Service photo by Rebecca Ciciretti.
Seminar participants pose for a group photo
Workshop participants and trainers pose before departing back to their home countries. Forest Service photo by Rebecca Ciciretti.


Forest Crime Training for Sub-Saharan African Professionals

Three people standing in from of the International Law Enforcement Academy building
Don Brown, Department of State – Regional Environment Officer for Southern Africa; Beth Hahn, FS International Programs; Joseph Augeri, Director – International Law Enforcement Academy, Gaborone, standing at the entrance of the International Law Enforcement Academy, Gaborone, Botswana. Photo by Ken Fisk.

During the week of April 9th the Forest Service contributed expertise in combatting illegal logging and trafficking to a week-long course in Environmental Criminal Prosecutions led by the Department of Justice.  This interagency training reflects a strong partnership among the Forest Service, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State, to reduce illegal logging globally and work cooperatively with source countries to prevent illegal wood entering the United States. Forest Service participation was funded by the Department of State and coordinated by the International Programs office.

Forest Service special investigator Anne Minden (retired) was an instructor for the course, held at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) outside of Gaborone, Botswana.  Minden served in Washington State during much of her Forest Service career and was involved in many successful timber theft investigations and prosecutions.  Instructional topics covered the typology of forest crime, and introduced investigation methods to support effective prosecution.  Thirty-nine students attended the course, hailing from the countries of Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Namibia, Togo, and Zambia.  Course participants included a range of professions, including law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. 

This effort is part of a global effort by the Forest Service, with funds from the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to share our expertise in effective forest crime enforcement, including by working with these global academies in selected regions.  Additional ILEAs are located in Budapest, Hungary; Bangkok, Thailand; San Salvador, El Salvador; and, Roswell, NM.  The mission of the ILEAs is to support emerging democracies, help protect U.S. interests through international cooperation, and promote social, political and economic stability by combating crime. To achieve these goals, ILEA provides high-quality training and technical assistance, supports institution building and enforcement capability, and fosters relationships of American law enforcement agencies with their counterparts in each region. International Programs has previously contributed to ILEA courses in Budapest and San Salvador, and is currently collaborating with the Department of Justice to design a full week-long course on illegal logging and trafficking at the ILEA in Botswana later in 2018.