Mécanisme pour la restauration des forêts et des paysages

Forest and landscape restoration: a key issue for the Asia-Pacific region

Year published: 29/04/2016

The 26th Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) was organized by FAO and the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (APFW) 2016, in Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines from 22 to 26 February 2016. 

The main theme of APFW 2016 was Growing Our Future. It reflected the need for society to proactively integrate forestry into the wider context of sustainable development. The theme also explicitly suggested that forestry should no longer be seen as a separate extractive renewable sector, but rather encompasses a holistic approach to an integrated and sustainable development paradigm, under which economic, social and environmental objectives should be equally addressed in the Asia Pacific region.

APFW 2016 was organized along five sub-thematic streams comprising: (i) Pathways to prosperity: Future trade and markets; (ii) Tackling climate change: challenges and opportunities; (iii) Serving society: forestry and people; (iv) New institutions, new governance; and (v) Our green future: green investment and growing our natural assets.

In the context of Stream 5 several important events and sessions were organized on the key issue of forest and landscape restoration. The critical need for forest and landscape restoration (FLR) is widely recognized and the topic features prominently in the global development agenda. For example, the Bonn Challenge launched in 2011 aims to restore 150 million ha of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020. Other international commitments related to forest restoration include the CBD Aichi Target 15, the UNFCCC REDD+ goal and the Rio+20 land degradation neutral goal (SDG 15). In the Asia-Pacific region, APEC has adopted an aspirational goal of increasing forest cover in the region by at least 20 million hectares by 2020.

Despite these commitments and goals to restore forests and the increased focus on landscape approaches, the realization of forest and landscape restoration has been modest due to lack of technical capacity, viable strategies and enabling environment at the national levels. FLR is an innovative approach that integrates forest restoration work with other activities across the landscape for achieving optimum productivity, both in commercial and ecological terms. With a view to strengthening FLR approaches in the region, the FAO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific and the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) undertook a multi-country study to review the status of forest and land degradation, restoration approaches commonly used and the policy and institutional environments which can support the introduction of FLR approaches in the region. This publication, titled "Forest Landscape Restoration for Asia-Pacific forests", was launched at the occasion of APFW 2016.  An article on "Restoration of forests and degraded lands in Southeast Asia’’ was also published recently in the last issue of the FAO journal Unasylva 245".

To better address this important issue of forest and landscape restoration in the Asia-Pacific region, several events were organized in Philippines in the context of Stream 5 focusing on green investment and growing our natural assets:

  1. The Stream 5 opening session provided an opportunity to discuss the main barriers for green investments just before a "High-level regional consultation to develop an Action Plan for Forest and Landscape Restoration in Asia-Pacific" was held on Tuesday 23 February 2016 with the key support of Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) , Asia Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions (APAFRI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), FAO and World Resources Institute (WRI);
  2. An event was also organized on Wednesday 24 February 2016 by the German Cooperation (GIZ) on "Forest and Landscape Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities for Ecological Resilience, Economic Development and Enhancing Livelihood in Asia and the Pacific";
  3. Two other sessions were organized by IUCN on Wednesday 24 February 2016 with one focused on Forest and Landscape Restoration: growing our future including discussions on: (i) The Bonn Challenge and its relative regional initiatives; (ii) the potential of Forest and Landscape Restoration in the Asia-Pacific region; and (iii) the importance of mangroves for future initiatives and another one dedicated to the Restoration Opportunity Assessment Methodology (ROAM) promoted worldwide by IUCN.


Towards a regional initiative on forest and landscape restoration (FLR)

Based on discussions during those multiple events and, in particular, taking into consideration the main results of the "High-level regional consultation to develop an Action Plan for Forest and Landscape Restoration in Asia-Pacific" the region is now moving forward to develop a regional Strategy and Action Plan on Forest and Landscape Restoration.

The main purpose of the high-level consultation was to review current initiatives on forest and landscape restoration and to consider the establishment of some form of regional initiative or mechanism that could support the implementation of national strategies and actions and lay the foundation for coordinated regional dialogue and action on forest and landscape restoration (FLR).

The following points summarize the key outcomes of this high-level consultation for Asia-Pacific:

  1. While the APEC Forest Cover Goal 2020 has set an aspirational target for FLR efforts in the APEC region (20 million hectares by 2020), there was a general consensus that a more ambitious target will help to advance restoration efforts in the Asia-Pacific, particularly given the vast area of deforested and degraded forest land in the region.
  2. An increase in the target should be carried out in a bottom-up manner with each country in the region deciding what target is appropriate for their particular circumstances. Targets should go beyond merely setting aspirational goals for restoration and should reflect the extent of degraded lands that could benefit from FLR.
  3. The national targets should specify the type of FLR that is aimed at, and should be linked to the status of deforestation and forest/land degradation and the balance between production and environmental outcomes. This should also include the potential of increasing tree cover on agricultural lands. 
  4. While the restoration agenda is an important priority, it cannot and should not take the place of efforts to protect standing natural forests from degradation or deforestation.
  5. There was general consensus that a regional initiative or mechanism of some sort would be a useful approach to support national restoration efforts, and that it could perform the following functions:
    a. Act as a communication hub to collect and distribute knowledge, lessons learned, best practices, progress, etc. from the countries in the region, as well as to draw on experts from the region;
    b.  Provide technical guidance for national restoration programs and assist with mobilizing capacity building;
    c. Provide a bridge between organizations currently working on restoration in the region;
    d. Facilitate the mobilization of financial resources for forest and landscape restoration.
  6. Financing for national level restoration needs to be accessed from a broad variety of sources: domestic finance, traditional donor aid, “impact investors” interested in social and environmental outcomes as well as economic returns and more traditional investors.
  7. Examples of more advanced regional initiative platforms were discussed, including the Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR 100), which have been very successful in mobilizing high-level national political commitments. The Asia-Pacific region is much larger and more diverse than either Africa or Latin America and there may be a place for several sub-regional initiatives or mechanisms on FLR. 
  8. It was suggested that FAO, together with key partners in the region, continue this dialogue to develop a Regional Strategy and Action Plan on Forest and Landscape Restoration, which would be presented at the 23rd Session of FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) in July 2016. The proposed consultation at COFO 23 would provide a venue for discussing the draft Regional Strategy and Action Plan that would contain specific suggestions on (i) the functions of a proposed regional initiative or mechanism and (ii) the institutional and operational aspects for implementing efficiently the proposed regional initiative/mechanism.


Key recommendations of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission on FLR

During the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission the main outcomes from the "High-level regional consultation to develop an Action Plan for Forest and Landscape Restoration in Asia-Pacific" were supported by representatives of member states. The commission finally invited member states to: (i) develop or strengthen mechanisms to ensure greater inter-sectoral cooperation amongst various land management agencies responsible for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock management through a more integrated landscape approach; (ii) consider making pledges or commitments toward Bonn Challenge, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets related to ecosystem restoration and other related goals and targets and to support actions towards their achievement; (iii) consider strengthening the mobilization of innovative and enhanced levels of financing for the restoration of degraded lands, including through the GEF, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the private sector for which more favorable enabling conditions that promote investments may be required and (iv) consider preparing a "regional Action Plan for Forest and Landscape Restoration" by continuing the dialogue initiated during the high level consultation on restoration held in conjunction with the 26th APFC session.

The commission also made several recommendations related to forest and landscape restoration for FAO to: (i) support country efforts to plan and implement activities related to the restoration of forests and other degraded lands in cooperation and coordination with partners; (ii) engage in more cross-cutting and inter-sectoral work to support landscape approaches to achieve greater food security, poverty alleviation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; and (iii) pursue active engagement with multilateral, bilateral and private sector resource partners, including the GEF, GCF and multilateral and regional development banks, to enable FAO to increase its support to member countries for capacity development in inter-sectoral planning, institutional development and application of landscape approaches on the ground.

The way forward: Committee on Forestry in Rome (18-22 July 2016)

In order to implement those recommendations and, in particular, the recommendations on the preparation of a regional strategy and action plan, FAO will develop a first draft of the regional strategy and action plan for further consultation with key partners and representatives of APFC member states. This document will describe how key partners could support the implementation of the proposed atrategy/action plan and how collaboration and communication could be structured.

The resulting draft regional strategy document including the draft action plan will be presented at a side event to be held on the occasion of the 23rd session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 23) in Rome, Italy, 18-22 July 2016. This consultation event, to be held on Friday 22 July 2016  (9:00-11:00), will be co organized by FAO, APFNet, IUCN and WRI. Before this consultation another event, "Forest and landscape restoration regional initiatives: toward the regionalization of the Bonn Challenge", will be held on Wednesday 20 July 2016. This event will be an opportunity to present several ongoing regional initiatives in Africa, Latin and Central America, Asia-Pacific and the Mediterranean. The event, to be chaired by Mr Horst Freiberg, in charge of the Bonn Challenge at the German Ministry of Environment (BMU), will provide an opportunity for representatives of member states from several regions to discuss regional FLR initiatives.

After the COFO 23 events, it will be possible to integrate discussion points and inputs from participants and to finalize the regional strategy and its related action plan for the Asia-Pacific region. 

Christophe Besacier/Kenichi Shono and Patrick Durst (FAO)