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Forest landscape restoration

The restoration of degraded forest areas is currently much discussed (see Unasylva 207, "Restoration of degraded sites", 2001). Some methods for restoring degraded forest have been criticized for being too narrow in focus, concentrating on planting a few tree species that provide a limited number of goods and services. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-International) have proposed an alternative process for rehabilitating degraded forests: forest landscape restoration, defined as "a planned process that aims to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded forest landscapes".

An International Expert Meeting on Forest Landscape Restoration, entitled "Building Assets for People and Nature", was held in Heredia, Costa Rica from 27 to 28 February 2002. The meeting was hosted by the Governments of Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, in collaboration with IUCN, WWF-International, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Northeast Asia Forest Forum (NEAFF). Approximately 60 participants representing governments, international organizations, research institutions, universities and non-governmental organizations attended the meeting.

The objectives of the meeting were to:

Participants suggested the following priority areas for research: tools for identifying and negotiating with stakeholders at the landscape level; criteria, indicators and approaches for monitoring and evaluating forest landscape restoration; mechanisms for valuing forest goods and services in forest landscape restoration; innovative funding options for forest landscape restoration; poverty issues and links to rural development; and the relationship between environmental services and impacts on wetland functions.

New approaches for developing and testing forest landscape restoration were also identified which included: involving indigenous people and grassroots organizations; introduction of forest landscape restoration into universities and other training institutions; and using the Central American Biological Corridor as a laboratory to observe the impacts of forest landscape restoration.

A focus on mangroves

Mangroves form a rich and diversified ecosystem that offers food, habitats and reproductive grounds for many marine species and several terrestrial animals and birds. They also provide products on which coastal dwellers depend, including food (fish and shellfish), timber, charcoal and fuelwood. Growing demand for these products, as a result of increasing human population in coastal areas, is causing increased pressure on mangrove ecosystems in many countries. Increasing awareness of the environmental and socio-economic functions of mangrove ecosystems has highlighted the need to conserve and manage them sustainably.

An International Workshop on Mangroves, hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Colombia, sponsored by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and conducted with the assistance of the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), was held in Cartagena, Colombia from 19 to 22 February 2002.

More than 30 people participated in the workshop, including representatives from 18 countries as well as from international organizations including ITTO, ISME, FAO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (the Ramsar Convention), the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO). The objectives of the workshop were to:

The first two days were dedicated to presentations by organizations and country representatives, while the third day was devoted to discussions.

The participants recommended that a Global Plan of Action for Mangroves be implemented and drafted a list of elements to address in such a plan, including: assessment and monitoring of mangrove resources; conservation and management; socio-economic benefits for local communities; research; information and databases; institutions; and policies and legislation. They further recommended that the organizations and countries represented at the meeting, as well as others not present, should support the plan in accordance with their mandates and available resources, and should coordinate their actions. Participants also noted that one way to increase awareness and support for mangrove conservation and sustainable use would be to declare an International Year of Mangroves.

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