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5 years ago

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

14 Goals and Targets of

14 Goals and Targets of Forest Landscape Restoration Jeffrey Sayer The most fundamental (question) relates to the definition of the goals and targets for restoration projects. It would seem that definition would be simple, but it is often complex and involves difficult decisions and compromises. Ideally, restoration reproduces the entire system in question, complete in all its aspects— genetics, populations, ecosystems, and landscapes. This means not merely replicating the system’s composition, structure and functions, but also its dynamics—even allowing for evolutionary as well as ecological change (Meffe and Carroll, 1994). Key Points to Retain Outside experts cannot alone set goals and targets because they are never self-evident. Careful multi-stakeholder processes are needed to set goals and targets that will be broadly accepted. Goals and targets will change with time and need to be adapted. Pristine “pre-intervention” nature is only one of many possible goals. 1. Background and Explanation of the Issue A broadly shared understanding and acceptance by all stakeholders is fundamental to the success of any restoration project. There are countless examples of attempts at restoration failing because one person’s “restoration” is often another person’s degradation. Here are some examples: • Attempts by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to “restore” Imperata grasslands by planting trees failed because local people had no use for the trees (they belonged to the foresters) but they made extensive uses of the grasslands. The grasslands provided fodder for their cattle and grass for roofing. • Attempts to plant spruce forests to restore the degraded moorlands of northern England and Scotland were opposed by amenity and conservation groups because the moorland scenery had come to be accepted as “natural” and “beautiful” and it was the habitat of rare birds. • Government attempts to restore tree cover on the uplands of Vietnam were opposed by local people because the types of trees planted by the government were not the ones that local people needed or could use. • Government-sponsored tree planting schemes in China have denied local people access to medicinal plants and have damaged the habitats of rare plants and animals in the dry mountainous areas of South Western and Western China. • Attempts to restore pristine nature in degraded areas in the United States are opposed by some conservationists who consider that such artificially restored areas can never have the value of a pristine landscape. 101

102 J. Sayer Pretending that restoration is possible is seen as a ploy by commercial interests to justify activities that degrade nature. The basic problem is that what is perceived as “degraded” by one interest group may be perceived as desirable by another group. Foresters consider land degraded if it does not support a crop of commercially valuable trees. Ecologists consider a forest degraded if it does not have multiple layers of vegetation and a reasonable number of dead or decaying trees as habitat for birds and invertebrate. Amenity groups do not like dense forests; they want mosaics of woodland and open land with extensive views.The list is endless. The basic lesson is that there can never be a single vision of an “end point” for restoration that will automatically meet with the approval of all interested parties. 2. Steps to Success The first task in any broad-scale restoration initiative, therefore, is to find out what everyone would ideally like to see as an outcome and then to negotiate compromises between what will inevitably be a collection of different viewpoints and attempt to come up with a scenario that is acceptable to all. It is unwise to assume that once an end point has been negotiated that the “visioning thing” is done. As landscapes change so the perceptions and needs of interest groups will evolve. Restoration is often a moving target. Markets, recreational needs, conservation priorities, etc. all change with time, and what people want today will not necessarily be what they will want tomorrow. Dunwiddie 130 has argued that objectives for restoration projects should be defined as “motion pictures” rather than “snapshots.” The problem is that objects such as species are much easier to specify and monitor in projects than are processes such as ecosystem function and community dynamics. The following concepts and approaches can be used as tools to ensure that forest landscape restoration projects are moving in the right direction: 2.1. Answer the Questions: Restoring What, for Whom and Why These are the most important questions yet they are frequently not properly addressed in restoration projects. These questions should be answered by real stakeholders—local people, conservation organisations, etc.—those who will do the work or incur the costs and benefits. Avoid programmes that are “expert driven” and ensure that development assistance agencies stay honest, that they are explicit about their real objectives and recognise that they also are interested parties. 2.2. Work with Scenarios, Visions, and Stakeholder Processes There is an abundant literature on methods for involving stakeholders in the development of scenarios and visions. Care has to be taken to ensure that the interests of less powerful groups are addressed. Achieving genuine public participation is not just common sense—it requires professional skills. Neutral professional facilitation is almost always necessary. The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Web sites provide access to the literature on these approaches. Simple modelling tools exist for exploring options and making assumptions explicit. STELLA, VENSIM, and SIMILE are widely used. These models are the best tools for developing scenarios, understanding the drivers of change in a system, making stakeholder assumptions and understanding explicit, and then tracking progress toward goals that are identified as desirable. The concept of getting into the system 131 is fundamental.This means engaging for the longterm, becoming a stakeholder, and making one’s interest explicit. In the case of WWF, as 130 Dunwiddie, 1992. 131 Sayer and Campbell, 2004.

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