The long-term benefits of restoring forests outweigh the costs, and this is a key factor in driving the implementation of forest landscape restoration (FLR) in many countries, a new WWF and IUFRO study finds.
The new study, Enabling factors to scale up forest landscape restoration: the roles of governance and economics, highlights the key factors at the national or sub-national scale that motivate the initiation of forest restoration, enable its implementation at scale and sustain it. The report features examples of how these enabling factors have played out in different countries, and finds that approaches have to be context-specific to be successful.
“Forest landscape restoration has emerged as a critical issue of our time. We know that it can provide tangible benefits for people, nature and climate, but we’re still struggling to understand how best to scale up restoration,” said Fran Price, WWF Global Forest Practice Lead.
“Our new analysis provides a close look at key factors to drive restoration and provides crucial insights to design future restoration and FLR programmes in light of the Bonn Challenge, the upcoming UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and other global targets. Above all, it is clear that engaging local stakeholders in forest restoration is crucial, as is monitoring, a supportive policy environment and long-term finance,” she added.
In Kenya, for example, the country’s 2010 Constitution adopted a goal of ensuring 10% forest cover and the trend in forest cover is on the increase; 72% of community forest associations have engaged in tree planting and the cost of increasing tree cover to 10% was estimated to reach KES 48 billion (USD$442 million), while the cost of inaction was estimated at a far higher KES 168 billion (USD$1.55 billion).
In Bhutan, all forests are managed for both soil and water conservation and other ecosystem services. Communities are active participants in the government’s forestry program, paving the way for the long-term protection, management and restoration of forest landscapes.
The same factors have also worked positively in Costa Rica, which today has 59% forest cover, up from 40.5% in 1986. A conscious political move away from intensive land use, notably cattle rearing, coupled with financial incentives, have encouraged landowners to either allow their forests to regenerate or to actively plant trees. Biodiversity conservation and ecotourism have been prioritized. Payments for ecosystem services have generally been considered a highly successful tool for forest restoration in Costa Rica.
Overall, results of the study provide decision-makers with an overview of the many options available so that they can take bold steps to make the changes required, at the pace required, to upscale FLR.
“The key ingredients for scaling up forest restoration, as highlighted in this report, are strong reminders that restoring forest landscapes is not an end in itself, but a means towards more ecologically sound and socially beneficial land use,” affirmed Alexander Buck, IUFRO Executive Director.