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A delegation of Nigerian federal and state government officials visited South Korea (the Republic of Korea) from 24 February to 1 March 2017 to explore a strategic partnership on REDD+, sustainable forest management and green growth. 

 The delegation also participated in an international conference on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on Land, focusing on Sustainable Forestry organized by the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre. The conference explored sustainable forestry (forest protection, afforestation and reforestation) from the vantage point of three critical dimensions of sustainable development - economic, environmental and social. Countries shared concrete cases of successful reforestation efforts with examples from South Korea as well as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste. UNDP shared its experiences on sustainable forestry and Agenda 2030, highlighting South Korea's good practices in sustainable forest management and how these can be utilized in developing countries. Building on the successful history of forest rehabilitation and restoration, South Korea is looking forward to building synergies and partnerships with developing countries on forestry and forest-related sectors in partnership with universities and technical institutions.

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Following the conference, the knowledge exchange continued with a field visit to the Forest Practice Research Center in Gwangneung Forest located 40km northeast of Seoul. The Research Center focuses on a range of silviculture practices, as well as research on forest roads and forest mechanization for low impact logging. The Center's primary objectives are technical improvements of nurseries and reforestation for the sustainable management of forest resources as well as the development of forest tending techniques for a growing forest economy and enhanced public benefits. During the visit, the Nigerian delegation learned how to improve seedling production systems andlooked at systematic nursery practice techniques. They also experienced, first-hand, seedling storage and wintering techniques. A key take home message was that forest management thrives when it is undertaken in partnership with communities and the private sector.

The delegation met with Korea Forest Service (KFS) and the National Institute of Forest Science.  KFS presented Korea's unique experience with afforestation and reforestation including its national forest resource monitoring system. The Nigerian delegation learned about scientific countermeasures and prevention techniques for forest disasters such as forest fire, landslide, and sediment disasters, the frequency of which are all likely to increase due to climate change. Key lessons learned are that reforestation is a national priority for Korea, backed by strong leadership and a robust community forest structure. Korea has had success implementing forest restoration and management due to a combination of public/private participation in forest management (including men, women, students, soldiers, etc). A meeting with the Korea University led to a concrete discussion on potential areas for cooperation - data exchange, exchange of experiences between researchers, and collaborative research activities - aimed at the building capacity of experts on afforestation, restoration and forest disaster management. A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between Korea University and Nigeria's Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry on agreed areas of cooperation.

The lessons obtained through the Nigeria-South Korea knowledge exchange will serve as a catalyst to help advance Nigeria's REDD+ Strategy. The lessons learned and accumulated experience from knowledge sharing with South Korean counterparts will contribute to a strong knowledge base that will form the foundation for the REDD+ strategy and ultimately to contribute to climate change mitigation through improved forest conservation and enhancing sustainable community livelihoods. 

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Article prepared by Ela Ionescu

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