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Looking at the bigger picture: the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration

C. Saint-Laurent and J. Carle

Carole Saint-Laurent is Coordinator, Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, and Senior Forest Policy Advisor, World Conservation Union (IUCN), Toronto, Canada.

Jim Carle is Senior Forestry Officer (Plantations and Protection), Forest Resources Division, FAO Forestry Department, Rome.

Forest landscape restoration involves enhancing the role of forests and trees to meet livelihood and environmental needs in the mosaic of land uses in the landscape.

Sustained wood and fibre supply, secure employment, good agricultural productivity, species habitat, watershed protection and other forest-related functions cannot all be supplied from the same site at the same time. Yet they can be accommodated within a mosaic of land-uses at a landscape level.

Similarly, intensively managed forests cannot be expected to deliver a broad range of forest goods and services at the site level, yet their role at the landscape level can be more than simply producing industrial roundwood. Governments, international agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) increasingly acknowledge that trade-offs inherent in modern production forestry can only be fully understood at a landscape level, large enough for addressing complex and competing land use demands yet small enough for addressing local concerns regarding sustainable land use. Whether planted and other intensively managed forests enhance or detract from sustainable livelihoods and sustainable land use depends on the landscape in which they contribute.

Forest degradation and fragmentation affects more than 60 percent of forests worldwide. Small-scale restoration approaches, such as simply replanting areas that have been cut, are limited solutions. They do not address the complex causes of forest degradation. Forest restoration at a landscape (or larger, watershed-sized) scale more effectively addresses and accommodates people’s multiple resource needs and different land uses such as agriculture, forestry and protected areas.

Forest landscape restoration is a practical approach. The aim is not to try to re- establish the pristine forests of the past, but to restore the functions of forests across an entire landscape. This is done by bringing people together to identify, negotiate and implement practices that restore an optimal balance of the ecological, social and economic benefits of forests and trees within a broader pattern of land uses. A restored forest landscape might then be composed of:

  • areas protected for watershed management and nature conservation;
  • well-managed plantations;
  • areas that have been replanted after timber felling;
  • tree buffers or strips along rivers that protect against flooding and erosion;
  • natural forested areas that are valuable for tourism and ecosystem health;
  • planned community development.

Forest landscape restoration can thus prevent and reduce land degradation while helping to secure:

  • income and employment opportunities for rural communities;
  • a sustainable source of timber for forest industries and local communities;
  • increased and higher quality habitats for animals and plants;
  • increased resistance and resilience to climate change;
  • high-quality water supplies;
  • non-wood forest products such as medicinal plants and marketable goods;
  • recreation and tourism opportunities;
  • carbon sequestration that delivers social and environmental benefits;
  • enhanced property values near restored areas.

A global partnership for healthy forests

The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration is a worldwide network of more than two dozen governments and organizations (see Box) working together with practitioners, communities and businesses to develop and strengthen forest landscape restoration efforts globally. It was publicly launched in March 2003 by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Forestry Commission of Great Britain, at the sixteenth session of the FAO Committee on Forestry. Its objective is to catalyse, promote and reinforce conditions for, and approaches to, forest landscape restoration that deliver benefits to local communities and nature, as well as fulfil international commitments on forests.

Partners contribute by:

  • providing expertise, advice or funding;
  • participating in a learning network of sites;
  • developing tools for decision support, capacity building, monitoring and knowledge management;
  • establishing national working groups on forest landscape restoration;
  • hosting or contributing to workshops;
  • introducing domestic policy reforms;
  • initiating field projects.

The partnership aims to match one partner’s needs to another partner’s resources to benefit the world’s forests.

From 2003 to 2005, the activities of the global partnership emphasized raising the profile of forest landscape restoration nationally, regionally and internationally; increasing communication and knowledge among practitioners worldwide; and investigating ways in which forest landscape restoration can contribute to the economic and environmental goals of communities. The partnership catalysed the establishment of national working groups in a number of countries and facilitated financial, technical and political support for a number of new forest landscape restoration activities around the world.

This first phase culminated in the international Forest Landscape Restoration Implementation Workshop, held in Petrópolis, Brazil in April 2005, where more than 100 participants from 42 countries gathered to discuss the future of the world’s degraded forests and the potential contributions of forest landscape restoration to the resolution of many environmental and social problems. One of the key outcomes of the workshop was endorsement of the Petrópolis Challenge, which is a global call to restore forest landscapes to benefit people and nature and contribute to reversing the trends of forest loss and degradation.

The recommendations of the Petrópolis workshop were presented to the fifth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF-5) in New York, United States in May 2005 during a round table on “Restoring the World’s Forests”, where many ministers expressed support for the forest landscape restoration approach.

In the current phase of activities (2005 to 2009), the partnership is focusing on responding to the Petrópolis Challenge by:

  • building the partnership and support for it at all levels;
  • building a learning network of sites to improve critical understanding and practice of forest landscape restoration;
  • providing key actors with the information and tools they need to make and implement decisions on forest landscape restoration and monitor their impacts;
  • reinforcing legal, policy and institutional frameworks to support forest landscape restoration, including supportive laws, institutions and incentives;
  • planning another international workshop in 2009.

Partnerships to restore landscapes and provide opportunities: some examples

The Ucayali Valley, a large, forested floodplain in the Peruvian Amazon, has been degraded by agriculture, logging and population increases. CIFOR, ICRAF and Spain’s National Institute for Agrarian Studies (INIA) have partnered to restore the area through replanting native species, restoring degraded soils and introducing mixed forest and crop systems rather than cutting new forest for plantations. Many residents are migrants looking for new livelihoods, so the forest landscape restoration approach is particularly important.

In the United Kingdom, the Forestry Commission Scotland, the Scottish Water agency, local communities, British Petroleum and others are working together to restore an 8 500 ha area of rare native forest around Loch Katrine in central Scotland. Benefits will include improved urban water quality and supply, increased nature conservation and greater economic and tourism opportunities.

In the United States, government agencies and private-sector organizations formed a partnership in 1998 to restore the mountain forest in the Upper South Platte watershed, which covers almost 500 000 ha of public and private lands in the Rocky Mountains. It is an area vulnerable to wildfires, insects and disease as well as residential and commercial development, timber extraction, a growing population and increased recreation.

In the Bong-Ahafo region of Ghana, government officials, researchers and NGOs established a National Working Group and Action Plan on forest landscape restoration in 2004. IUCN, the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana and local organizations are working on community-based fire management and restoration using native species selected by communities. In western Ghana a project is incorporating the native tree species Allanblakcia floribunda in cocoa farms to provide shade and to restore degraded landscapes.

For further information on the Global Partnership and to find out how to join, please see:

Forest landscape restoration around Loch Katrine in the United Kingdom will help improve urban water quality and supply, nature conservation and economic and
tourism opportunities

Members of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration

  • World Conservation Union (IUCN)
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
  • Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC)
  • CARE International
  • Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Global Mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification
  • World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
  • International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
  • International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
  • Program on Forests (PROFOR)
  • Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG)
  • Governments of El Salvador, Finland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States

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