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Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

9 An Attempt to Develop

9 An Attempt to Develop a Framework for Restoration Planning Daniel Vallauri, James Aronson, and Nigel Dudley Key Points to Retain While no two restoration experiences will follow the same pattern, indicative steps to planning a restoration initiative are important, particularly when dealing with large scales or landscapes. Success depends on wise planning, balancing short-term with long-term goals, and allocating the funding available for the restoration programme as efficiently as possible. Learning from past restoration programmes and their successes and failures is an important starting point to help plan better restoration actions in the future. There are few tools dealing with planning restoration in large scales. A five-step logical planning process is being proposed. 1. Background and Explanation of the Issue 1.1. Why Planning? Restoration of natural systems is a difficult, energy-consuming, and expensive undertaking. It is almost always a long-term, complex, and transdisciplinary process. 96 This is particularly 96 Pickett and Parker, 1994. 97 Clewell and Rieger, 1997. true when dealing with highly degraded ecosystems and landscapes. Inevitably, conflicts of interest and other problems arise. Ecologically speaking, the restoration of highly degraded forest usually requires initiating an embryonic ecosystem within a few years (usually less than 10 to 15 years after degradation), which will be only fully restored—very often after additional corrective or fine-tuning interventions—after a period of at least 50 years in the tropics, and of 100 years or more in the extratropical zones. However, forest policies and restoration programmes are generally financed only on a short- to medium-term basis. A 10- to 15-year project span, in most cases, is the longest possible perspective, both for political and financial reasons. Bearing this in mind, restorationists should (1) adapt short-term restoration goals and techniques to minimise the number of costly corrective actions; and (2) plan ahead to secure funds for carrying out monitoring and evaluation, corrective actions, or “aftercare” in the long term. Also, forest restoration requires inputs and expertise from various academic and practitioner fields 97 like ecology, silviculture, economics, public policy, and the social sciences, which need to be combined in an efficient way. Meanwhile, the relative lack of experience with broad-scale conservation means that filling the knowledge gaps through research programmes also takes time. Five to 10 years is the minimum period needed to investigate critical 65

66 D. Vallauri et al questions like natural dynamics, nursery and plantation techniques for native species, etc. However, very little money is available to finance pure research programmes unless they can be linked to real implementation and visible successes in the field. Bearing this in mind, restorationists should define short-term goals and activities that get restoration underway, along with long-term goals for how it can be sustained over the time period required. A critical, pragmatic aim is to achieve at least some rapid field results, for example on carefully selected pilot sites, to build support for longer term efforts. Finally, forest landscape restoration, as developed in this book, requires a concerted approach among stakeholders and communities, to develop a shared and accepted vision and goals for the future of the landscape in question. This also takes time and should be planned for, but at the same time should lead rapidly to tangible changes or outcomes that really engage stakeholders and people living in the region in a lasting and meaningful manner. Success in forest restoration depends on wise planning, 98,99 both in time and in space, balancing short-term goals with long-term goals, and allocating the funding available for the restoration programme as efficiently as possible. Accordingly, a clear step-by-step plan of action is needed for success. This was very often lacking in past restoration programmes, especially site-oriented ones, and has led to many failures or difficulties that often emerge only decades after the first restoration efforts were begun. 1.2. Restoring Step by Step Where restoration is to be carried out as part of a wider conservation effort, at the landscape or ecoregional levels, we would propose that it be planned as an embedded element within an integrated programme that also involves protection of whatever is left of untouched nature, and the promotion of good ecosystem management, as guided by the principles of ste- 98 Aronson et al, 1993. 99 Wyant et al, 1995a,b. wardship, sustainability, and sustained use. We have already outlined some possible elements in a protect–manage–restore programme in the introduction to this book. This approach includes identifying a series of conservation targets—in this context, what forest functions we wish to restore—and “reconciling” these with the needs, tastes, and expectations of other stakeholders, especially the indigenous populations. Conceptualisation of the process of implementing restoration programmes is very new. We propose below an outline of a planning framework, following a five-step logical planning process. In the context of a broad-scale conservation strategy, then, the following steps help lead to the development and realisation of restoration achievements. 1.2.1. Step 1: Initiating a Restoration Programme and Partnerships An essential first step of any forest landscape restoration programme is the identification of the problem being addressed and agreement on the solutions and the targets for restoration. Such targets should ideally contribute to wider ecological and socioeconomical objectives at a landscape scale.Very often, restorationists must start from zero to raise awareness on the state of degradation in the landscape, analyse the root causes, and then convince other stakeholders of both the need for and the feasibility of forest restoration. Depending on the context (the existing level of awareness, politics, funds available, etc.), this step could last for several years and require extensive effort. Experience suggests that restoration usually only works in the long term if it has support from a significant proportion of local stakeholders. Finding out the needs and opinions of stakeholders is therefore important: What forest functions do they want to restore and are there potential clashes of interest? It should be recognised that the restorationists (conservation NGO or other) are themselves stakeholders with a particular interest (i.e., restoring biodiversity), which may need to be reconciled with other stakeholders’ priorities.

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