5 years ago

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

13 Challenges for

13 Challenges for Forest Landscape Restoration Based on WWF’s Experience to Date Stephanie Mansourian and Nigel Dudley Key Points to Retain Some of the most important challenges identified by WWF’s forest landscape restoration programme in its first four years, include the following: The need to better value forest goods and services The need to increase capacity to deal with landscape restoration issues The need to better monitor the return of forest functions at a landscape scale 1. Introduction Since the start of its Forest Landscape Restoration programme in 2000, WWF, the global conservation organisation, has faced a number of challenges related to (1) the planning of restoration in large scales, (2) the integration of social and ecological dimensions, and (3) the implementation of restoration programmes on a large scale. A more detailed analysis of specific lessons learned from forest landscape restoration projects can be found in this book in the part entitled” Lessons Learned and the Way Forward.”This chapter focusses instead on specific challenges anticipated for future programmes to restore forest functions in landscapes, based on experience in the first 4 years of WWF’s restoration programme. While this 94 draws on experience within one organisation, we hope that the brief summary of some of the tasks we have identified will also be useful to governments, nongovernment organisations, (NGOs) and others interested in developing restoration projects, large or small. We started WWF’s restoration initiative with some concepts (e.g., the need to integrate socioeconomics, the concept of trading off land uses within landscapes, the idea of working at a landscape scale), and also some principles (e.g., balancing ecological and social needs, adopting where possible a participatory approach). For the last 4 years, we have been testing out these theories in practice in field programmes around the world. One early result was recognition that there was a lack of succinct information for practitioners, which was the driving force behind this book. In light of WWF’s experience to date, a number of future challenges and opportunities have been identified 128 : 1.1. Setting Realistic Goals for Restoration Within a Landscape A failure of past restoration efforts can be traced back to having started with unrealistic goals or alternatively with very narrow goals that fail to take into account local and surrounding socioeconomic realities. For this reason it is important to set goals that are at once realistic but also consider the many dif- 128 Mansourian, 2004.

ferent outputs required from most landscapes. In a landscape context, restoration goals for conservation organisations will often be closely linked to other activities relating to protected areas and sustainable forest management.Thus, restoration may seek to complement a protected area or relieve pressure on it. Equally, restoration can happen within and around the estate of a managed forest. Forest restoration goals within a landscape generally have to address both social and ecological needs; they may, for instance, relate to restoration of species’ habitat in one location but also to the establishment of fuelwood plantations elsewhere. In all cases, the key will be to attempt to balance those goals to provide optimal benefits (also see “Goals and Targets of Forest Landscape Restoration,” “Negotiations and Conflict Management,” and “Addressing Trade-Offs in Forest Landscape Restoration”). 1.2. Ensuring that Restoration Is Not Used as an Excuse for Uncontrolled Exploitation One reason many conservationists still balk at restoration is that it can be seen to provide a justification for failing to address the problems of degradation. Given the cost, duration, and difficulty of restoration, we do not believe that this is a viable argument. However, the fact that conservation organisations encourage restoration should not be interpreted as licence for degradation, because in many circumstances restoration activities will not be able to recover all of the values that have been lost. There is a fine line between actively offering restoration as a solution to dwindling natural resources without undermining efforts at protection or good management of these resources. 1.3. Active or Passive Restoration? In some cases it is clear that restoration is already urgently necessary. At this point the first question for a community, conservation organisation, or government becomes one of choice between passive and active restoration. Passive restoration, which means creating suitable conditions for restoration to happen 13. Challenges for Forest Landscape Restoration 95 through natural processes (e.g., by fencing an area against grazing or preventing artificial fire) is usually considered to be the most desirable solution, being simpler, cheaper, and more akin with natural processes. However, there comes a point (a status of degradation or particular set of ecological and social conditions) when active restoration is necessary, either because recovery needs to be speeded up to protect threatened biodiversity or because ecological conditions have changed so profoundly that natural processes need some assistance. The challenge for conservation planners is sometimes whether to wait for passive restoration, and risk further degradation and in the future a more expensive restoration process, or to jump straight into active restoration. Development of a more sophisticated set of criteria or tools for helping make these kinds of decisions will be one of the major needs in the future. 1.4. Promoting the Concept of Multifunctional Landscapes If conservation organisations are to address the big emerging issues related to forestry and biodiversity, we will need to engage much more closely with social actors, an example is the emerging WWF-CARE partnership. An emphasis on “multifunctional landscapes,” that is, landscapes that provide a mixture of environmental, social, and economic goods and services through a mosaic of sites managed with differing but harmonised objectives, can help to provide balanced approaches in landscapes that contain both environmental and social problems. One implication of this is that forest restoration in most cases will not be a viable activity unless it goes hand in hand with forest management and usually also with forest protection. 1.5. Sustainability of Restoration— Valuing Forest Goods, Services, and Processes to be Restored Active restoration is an expensive process, and in most cases conservationists (both state government and NGOs) still opt to direct avail-

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