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Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

4 N. Dudley et al the

4 N. Dudley et al the temperate countries gradually recovering forest area if not necessarily quality after severe deforestation in the past. As well as creating acute threats to forest dependent biodiversity, the decline in global forests also has a series of direct social and economic costs because of the role of forests in supplying timber and many important nontimber forest products along with a wide range of environmental service such as the stabilisation of soils and climate. Forest loss and degradation has already led to the extinction of species, has altered hydrological regimes and damaged the livelihoods of millions of people—mainly amongst the poorest on the earth—who rely on forests for subsistence. In many areas, protecting and managing the remaining forests are no longer sufficient steps in themselves to ensure that forest functions are maintained, and restoration is already an essential third component of any management strategy. Unfortunately, many existing restoration projects have partially or completely failed, often because the trees that they sought to establish have not survived or have been rapidly destroyed by the same pressures that have caused forest loss in the first place. Anyone working regularly in the tropics becomes accustomed to finding abandoned tree nurseries, often with their donor organisations’ signboards still in place, the paint gradually peeling away. Even when crops of trees have survived to maturity, they have not necessarily been welcomed, as evidenced by the widespread controversy over afforestation with exotic monocultures of conifers in much of western Europe 4 and the increasingly bitter debates about tree plantations in the tropics. 5 There has also often been a mismatch between social and ecological goals of conservation; either restoration has aimed to fulfil social or economic needs without reference to its wider ecological impacts, or it has had a narrow conservation aim without taking into account people’s needs. A number of consequent problems can be identified. Most restoration to date has been 4 Tompkins, 1989. 5 Carrere and Lohmann, 1996. 6 Eckholm, 1979. site-based, aiming to produce one or at most a limited number of goods and services. Projects have often sought to encourage and sometimes impose tree planting without understanding why trees disappeared in the first place and without attempting to address the immediate or underlying causes of forest loss. 6 Projects have also relied heavily on tree planting, which is often the most expensive way of reestablishing tree cover over a large area, frightening off governments, donors, and nongovernmental organisations. Because restoration takes time, it is essential to think and plan long term. Unfortunately, short-term political interests often supersede longer term priorities, creating simplistic approaches. The above reservations are not to underestimate the major steps that have been made in understanding the ecological and social aspects of restoration, many of which are summarised in this book. Criticising after the event is always easy, and we also recognise the very real benefits that have accrued from successful restoration projects. Nonetheless, we are far from alone in believing that some new perspectives are needed in addressing the current restoration challenge. Perhaps the most important of these relates to working on a broader scale, along with all the implications that this has. 1.1. Taking a Broader Approach An increasing number of governmental and nongovernmental conservation institutions have recognised that in order to achieve lasting conservation impacts it is necessary to work on a larger scale than has been the case in the past. Although there are a number of ways of defining useful ecological units for planning conservation, the concept of the ecoregion is increasingly being adopted, including by WWF, the global conservation organisation.An ecoregion is defined as a large area of land or water that contains a geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities that share a large majority of their species and ecological dynamics, share similar environmental conditions, and

Site Landscape Site Site interact ecologically in ways that are critical for their long-term persistence. Ecoregions are suitable for broad-scale planning, which usually includes the identification of a few smaller priority landscapes that are particularly important from a conservation perspective, themselves composed of numerous sites with different management regimes or habitats (see chapter “Restoration as a Strategy to Contribute to Ecoregion Visions”). As used here (Fig. 1.1), landscapes are generally smaller than ecoregions, and typically a number of important “conservation landscapes” have been identified within ecoregions during planning processes. But the key point here is that landscapes are bigger than single sites and therefore almost always encompass a range of different management approaches. Coming from a conservation organisation, this book is biased toward ecological and biodiversity issues. However, forests have social and economic functions as well, and restoration efforts often need to address many needs at once. This may not be possible within a single site; it is, for example, difficult to create a large harvest of industrial timber or firewood in an environment that is also suitable for specialised or sensitive wildlife species. One important reason for shifting the focus to a landscape scale is that it is hoped this can provide a broadenough area to plan a suite of restoration activ- Ecoregion 1. Forest Landscape Restoration in Context 5 Landscape Landscape Site Figure 1.1. At the ecoregional scale, ecoregion visioning can help to identify a series of priority landscapes. At the landscape level, assessment and negotiation can help to identify agreed forest functions to Site Site Site Site Site be restored, leading to a number of actions at individual sites within the landscape. All these fit within the landscape goals for restoration, which themselves contribute to the ecoregion vision. ities that could meet multiple needs and to negotiate the compromises and trade-offs that such a mosaic entails. The aims of forest landscape restoration have therefore always transcended conservation to embrace development as well, and we have invited a number of experts to provide a parallel set of social tools and approaches within the current volume. We believe that successful restoration on a broad scale relies on getting the right mix between social and environmental needs; this is a fundamental part of the process and not an optional extra. Accordingly, in 2000, WWF and IUCN, the World Conservation Union, brought together a range of experts from different organisations, different regions, and different disciplines to agree on a definition for forest landscape restoration 7 : “A planned process that aims to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes.” This definition and approach lies at the heart of the current book. “Ecological integrity” is described by Parks Canada as a state of ecosystem development that is characteristic of its geographic location, containing a full range of native species and supportive processes that are present in viable numbers. “Well-being” embraces the factors that make 7 WWF and IUCN, 2000.

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