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Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

96 S. Mansourian and N.

96 S. Mansourian and N. Dudley able conservation budgets toward protection instead. However, in many cases these decisions are not being taken in full knowledge of the long-term costs and benefits. For instance, it is often easier to build political support for setting aside a mountainous area of forest to protection because it appears to entail limited cost, or at least delayed costs, whereas the apparent cost of restoring a more accessible or economically valuable habitat such as a lowland forest appears immediately. But if the long-term value of a restored forest were properly estimated, then on balance the net costs might not appear to be as high. In some cases, it may make more sense to focus efforts on protection, in others more on restoration or a mixture of both. One future challenge is to increase skills and tools for valuation of the costs and benefits of various approaches so that more balanced judgements can be made. 1.6. Long Term Monitoring and Evaluating Impact of Restoration within Large Scales Monitoring and evaluation are essential in any conservation programme, to help facilitate adaptive management, and have been identified as one of the most critical elements in success. They become particularly crucial in a large-scale restoration effort, which will span several decades and will involve many different actors. Mistakes need to be redressed and improvements need to be made. Proper monitoring tools that are adapted to a large scale need to be developed and then applied rigorously. 1.7. When Can We Claim Success? When Is a Landscape Restored? There is no clear end point for restoration. A natural forest is itself not a fixed or static ecosystem but is generally in constant evolution and flux. In any case, many restoration projects will not be aiming to re-create an “original” forest.Agreeing and then finding ways of measuring an end point is therefore a challenge particularly for organisations such as WWF, which work in time-limited programmes and to targets that are often agreed to between NGOs and donors. In practice, targets need to be set at the level of a specific landscape. For instance, is the ultimate aim of a forest landscape restoration programme to return a certain endangered animal species to a viable population? Or is it to improve water quality? Or is it to reverse the decline in forest quality? Many restoration projects have multiple aims, such as restoring habitat for species but also increasing nontimber forest products for local communities. By setting goals, conservation organisations should be able to establish meaningful programmes, whilst recognising that forest landscape restoration is never a short-term project with a clear beginning and end. Efforts should be longer term, and specific measures of success will necessarily be steps along a trajectory toward a healthier and more sustainable forest landscape. 1.8. Resources Forest restoration at the scale of large landscapes can be enormously costly. In addition, the longer we wait before undertaking restoration, the more degraded the landscape is likely to have become (for instance, seeds of original species may no longer be present, soil conditions will have changed) and therefore the higher the costs of restoration are likely to be. Many restoration efforts have failed through lack of resources. Ideally, systems that integrate the cost of restoration within landscape-level activities via taxes (for instance on ecotourists) or via payment for environmental services (for instance, for the provision of clean water, also see “Payment for Environmental Services and Restoration”) should provide long-term and sustainable financing for restoration activities. However, this assumes both that costs and benefits can be measured accurately, which is still often a challenge, and that there is sufficient political support for restoration that such payments can be levied. Establishing means for long-term funding that go beyond donor project cycles remains a key challenge for the future.

1.9. Capacity A restoration programme carried out over large areas is likely to require many different skills, for instance negotiating skills, lobbying skills, monitoring skills, small enterprise development skills, plantation skills, nursery development skills, etc. It is important to ensure that local capacity to support the long-term restoration effort exists. In many cases this requires training as well as the partnering of different institutions to share their respective knowledge and expertise. 2. Examples These examples demonstrate some of the practical challenges that have been encountered. They may not all be as fundamental as those listed above, but are interesting to highlight as they demonstrate the full range of challenges that may emerge from real experiences. 2.1. Vietnam: The Challenge of Dealing with Pressures on Remaining Forests The government of Vietnam is well aware of the importance of its forests, for instance to ensure water quality, and has taken significant forest areas out of production. But pressures remain because local people face serious land shortages, and restoration efforts have until now mainly been aimed at intensive plantations that supply only a small proportion of the potential goods and services. Restoration efforts in Vietnam therefore need to embrace demonstration projects both to show what is possible and to work with government authorities to modify current restoration policies (see case study “Monitoring Forest Landscape Restoration in Vietnam”). 2.2. Madagascar: The Challenge of Choosing a Priority Landscape for Restoration In a country like Madagascar that has lost over 90 percent of its forest, it would seem straight- 13. Challenges for Forest Landscape Restoration 97 forward to decide where to restore. Nonetheless, given scarce resources and given a difficult socioeconomic context (Madagascar is one of the poorest countries on the planet, and poor people survive largely from slash and burn agriculture), it is necessary to select priority area(s) to begin a large-scale restoration programme. In 2003 WWF brought together a number of stakeholders from government, civil society, and the private sector to define together what might be criteria for choosing a priority landscape in which to restore forest functions. The group identified the following categories of criteria: 1. Sociocultural 2. Economic 3. Ecological/biophysical 4. Political Within these categories, some of the 24 criteria were, for example: • Type of land tenure • Values attributed to forests by local people • Proximity of fragments to a large forest plot • Level of diversification of revenue sources • Presence of management entity for the landscape • Numbers of species used by local communities that have been lost • Level of involvement of communities in local environmental actions Members of the national working group on forest landscape restoration then visited a short-listed selection of landscapes and rated each against the 24 criteria. The outcome was a prioritised list of landscapes that need to be restored based on criteria that were developed locally and that were very specific to local conditions. 129 2.3. New Caledonia: The Challenge of Dealing with Multiple Partners It took 2 years to develop an agreed to partnership, strategy, and plan, and to engage eight other partners in the dry forest restoration 129 Allnutt et al, 2004.

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