On May 25, a group of Uzbek journalists, including Dunyo Bo’ylab TV and O’zbekiston24 Radio, travelled to Sukok Reserve in the Parkent District of Tashkent region, where the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is conducting a 9-day hands-on training for Uzbekistan’s first cadre of trail specialists. The journalists observed four U.S. instructors teaching the basics of trail and recreation infrastructure to 20 Uzbek trainees from both the protected areas system and Tashkent Agrarian University. They conducted interviews with the American and local organizers on the goals of the program, which is a partnership between the USFS, the State Committee for Forestry, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Green World Future (a Tashkent based NGO). The vision is for Sukok to be a model territory for nature-based tourism, the first place in Uzbekistan to demonstrate quality trails and sustainable recreational infrastructure. Specific topics discussed in the training include trail design, layout, construction, maintenance and the proper use of tools and equipment for construction. Participants will also discuss community engagement, nature interpretation and other technical components of recreation infrastructure.
The U.S. Forest Service has been collaborating with the State Committee on Forestry (SFC) since 2015, when several high-level representatives from the SFC visited U.S. Forest Service lands and facilities, and began using the information gathered on this visit to inform changes in Uzbekistan’s protected areas to further develop the recreation infrastructure.