5 years ago

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

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tion, for instance, short-term measures may be needed even while long-term planning is still in process. None of the proposed interventions below replace larger scale efforts, nor are they meant to be implemented in isolation from a broad-scale planning process. Rather, they are to be seen as elements of the larger process and as possible entry points; success at a small scale is one of the most effective ways of gaining support for larger-scale programmes. When selecting one of the proposed entry points listed below (see Outline of Tools), it is important to think of the desired impact of this tactical intervention: • Is it to influence a specific group of stakeholders? Which one and what is the desired effect? • Is it to understand better the dynamics (biological or social) in the landscape? • Is it to change sociopolitical conditions in the landscape before engaging in restoration within the landscape? Which conditions? And what is the most cost-effective way to change them? • What are the resources (human and financial) and time involved? Can we afford them? • What are the priority issues that need addressing soonest? 2. Examples 2.1. Research into Different Restoration Methods in Malaysia Some palm oil companies along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Borneo, have agreed to set aside land for restoration. Initial trials showed limited success. Starting in 2004, in an effort to identify the most successful techniques for restoration, tests began using different methods on a small plot of land. These are the methods proposed (during a field visit by the author): • Natural regeneration with no intervention (including a smaller study area fenced against browsing animals) 19. Practical Interventions that Will Support Restoration 137 • Assisted natural regeneration (mainly some land preparation and weeding around regenerating species) • Planting with native species (using species adapted to local conditions and including if possible both commercially valuable dipterocarp trees and fruit trees) • Planting an exotic species as a nurse crop to foster natural regeneration Each approach is to be monitored on a regular basis in order to determine which one yields the highest survival rates. The long-term aim of this research is to disseminate the most suitable restoration methods in all the areas set aside for restoration along this important biodiversity corridor. 2.2. Changing the Forest Policy in Bulgaria Thanks to a Cost- Benefit Analysis 182 Bulgaria’s 75 islands on the Danube river are rich in biodiversity, and are an important stopover site for migratory birds. Yet, over the last 40 years, the government has systematically converted natural floodplain forest to hybrid poplar plantations to supply the local timber industry. Until the year 2000, the government had plans to continue conversion of this ecosystem, leaving only 7 percent of the original forest. Thanks to a comprehensive costbenefit analysis, sponsored by the World Bank and WWF, it was shown that financial losses from suspending timber production on certain islands could be offset by intensifying production in areas already converted to poplar plantations. Additional benefits that were highlighted by the analysis included the potential use of original forest for recreational purposes, improved fishing (by creating more spawning grounds), the harvest of nontimber forest products, and possible ecotourism development. In 2001 the government, therefore, changed its policy, adopting one that called for the immediate halt of all logging and conversion of floodplain forests to poplar plantations on the Danube islands, restoration of native species 182 Ecott, 2002.

138 S. Mansourian in selected sites, as well as strengthening of the protected areas network on the islands. Although a longer term forest landscape restoration programme for the Danube is underway, this tactical intervention helped to maintain a unique habitat that might well have disappeared before the more detailed programme was implemented. 3. Outline of Tools 3.1. Focussing on Removing or Reducing the Identified Threats Sometimes it will be sufficient to remove, reduce, or mitigate a particular threat or pressure on forests in a landscape to set them on a positive path toward regeneration. Because threats often originate from political or economic decisions, changing them may require significant lobbying, backed up by negotiations, research, and building of strategic partnerships. If these threats can be reduced or removed, natural regeneration can often be significant (if there are no other biophysical constraining factors). Examples of threats that are common as an impediment to natural forest regeneration include the following: • Alien invasive species (e.g., electric ants, Wasmannia auropunctata, in New Caledonia) • Government incentives that foster forest conversion (e.g., Chile’s subsidies for plantations) • Infrastructure projects (e.g., the construction of the Ho Chi Minh highway in Vietnam) • Demand for cash crops (e.g., valuable soya expansion in Paraguay causing forest conversion) • Unsustainable agricultural practices (e.g., Slash and burn agriculture in Madagascar) • Illegal logging (e.g., in Indonesia) • Uncontrolled and “unnatural” fires (e.g., in India) Concentrating first on removal of threats is appropriate when it is clear that addressing the identified threat can lead to natural regeneration or restoration with only limited interven- tions. This is also a necessary choice in cases when a field project cannot start until the threat has been addressed. Depending on the social and economic context, some threats may be much easier to address than others. For instance, illegal logging is in itself a very complex issue, which may well be beyond the remit of a restoration project. However, knowledge of key areas affected can help determine where (or even whether) and how to establish a restoration programme. It is important to recognise threats that cannot be addressed, or resources may be pumped into a hopeless situation. 3.2. Changing Government Policies Often, a change in government policy may provide the right conditions to promote restoration (also see “Policy Interventions for Forest Landscape Restoration”). In some cases it may be necessary to lobby for more supportive policies, while in others, it may be necessary to remove destructive ones. The European Union’s (EU’s) Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) has for instance invested significantly in afforestation with limited social and ecological results (see case study “The European Union’s afforestation Policies and their Real Impact on Forest Restoration”). WWF and other local partners are trying to address this in many EU countries (particularly in southern Europe) by demonstrating alternative, more socially and environmentally appropriate forms of restoration that could be financed by the same CAP subsidies. It will be important and relevant to focus efforts on government policies when these have been identified as a key factor in causing the loss and degradation of forests (e.g., perverse incentives) or when there is a clear opportunity to engage the government in supportive policies (e.g., a new forest plan being developed). In some countries, like Vietnam or China, there are huge government programmes promoting investments in reforestation/afforestation. Because of the scale of these programmes, it is often wiser (and economically more efficient) to engage in these processes than to invest efforts in a separate project.

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