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  • Enabling conditions to implement the 2018 forest proclamation to facilitate FLR in Ethiopia

Enabling conditions to implement the 2018 forest proclamation to facilitate FLR in Ethiopia

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  • Toward a tenure-responsive approach to forest landscape restoration: A proposed tenure diagnostic for assessing restoration opportunities

Toward a tenure-responsive approach to forest landscape restoration: A proposed tenure diagnostic for assessing restoration opportunities

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The Bonn Challenge, a voluntary global initiative launched in 2011, aims to bring up to 350 million hectares of degraded land into some level of restorative state by 2030. Pilot forest landscape restoration (FLR) efforts indicate that enhancing community and smallholder tenure rights is critical for achieving FLR’s desired joint environmental and social well-being objectives. The Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) is a decision support tool that has become widely used in national and subnational FLR planning. Although ROAM is structured so as to encourage inclusion of tenure rights and governance analyses, the extent to which ROAM reports actually incorporate tenure issues is undocumented. To address this gap, we report the results of an analysis of the currently publicly accessible ROAM reports from eight countries in Africa and Latin America. We found that the ROAM reports superficially covered tenure and governance considerations. We recommend design elements for a tenure diagnostic that should facilitate more robust tenure and land governance analyses to complement ROAM and other FLR planning approaches. We suggest the adoption of a rights-enhanced FLR approach so as to capitalize on the motivating force that strong and secure tenure rights provide for landholders to engage in forest restoration design and practice. Although developed in the context of FLR, the proposed tenure diagnostic should have broad utility for other land use initiatives where tenure rights and security are at stake.

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  • Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Africa factsheets

Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Africa factsheets

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The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) published a series of factsheets in August 2018 ahead of GLF Nairobi, focusing on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon.

GLF is the world’s largest knowledge-led multisectoral platform for integrated land use, bringing together world leaders, scientists, private sector representatives, farmers and community leaders and civil society to accelerate action towards the creation of more resilient, equitable, profitable, and climate-friendly landscapes.

Brief 1: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Burkina Faso

Brief 2: Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Ethiopia

Brief 3: Reshaping the terrain: Forest landscape restoration efforts in Ghana

Brief 4: Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Tanzania

Brief 5: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Kenya

Brief 6: Reshaping the terrain: Forest landscape restoration in Uganda 

Brief 7: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Cameroon

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  • Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

A woman looks out over an FLR area in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR
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Optimally achieving forest landscape restoration – and its associated benefits for ecology and human wellbeing – requires high-quality planting material.

Restoration plays a key role in sustainable development. With countries making significant pledges under the Bonn Challenge to restore degraded land, achieving these objectives at scale requires integrated systems that provide diverse, adapted and high-quality native tree seeds and planting material.

However, there remains a gap in capacity, as studies have documented that the quality and quantity of tree germplasm is not always adequately addressed in restoration projects. Research is now generating solutions to help the global community move from pledges to impact when it comes to tree seeds and seedlings.

A discussion at the recent Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) with Bioversity International, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration – brought these issues to the fore.

Read more: Delivery of diverse and suitable seeds and planting material is a key barrier to sustainable land restoration at scale

In opening the discussion, Bioversity International’s leader of forest genetic resources and restoration Christopher Kettle, whose work also forms part of FTA, introduced how researchers can help to generate the volume of seeds needed to achieve development objectives.

In line with this, FTA Director Vincent Gitz highlighted that restoration is a priority for research programs such as FTA. In order to be successful, projects should integrate the availability of good tree planting materials from the outset to implementation, he suggested.

Giving a keynote, senior advisor on tropical trees and landscapes at the University of Copenhagen Lars Graudal, who is also coleader of tree productivity and diversity at ICRAF, echoed Kettle in asking whether the reproductive material of trees constituted a barrier for landscape restoration.

Referring to the Bonn Challenge – which aims to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020, and 350 million ha by 2030 – the largest restoration in history, which is backed by conventions and the sustainable development agenda, Graudal said it is one thing to have a plan, and another to implement it.

Despite shortfalls in investments, there is reason for optimism as public support for the plan has never been greater, he said. There is a “positive correlation with biodiversity and resilience, agricultural produce and dietary diversity,” he explained. The world faces challenges of mobilizing diversity before it disappears; focusing on dealing with numerous species rather than only a few; linking that work with conservation, breeding and delivery programs; and achieving efficient programs by empowering users.

Speakers of Discussion Forum 1 at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF

The discussion continued with a panel of speakers considering situations on the ground where restoration efforts are being implemented. Featuring Cameroon-based forest engineer Anicet Ngomin; Burkina Faso’s National Tree Seed Center director general Moussa Ouedraogo; Charles Karangwa of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Rwanda; biologist and youth representative Vania Olmos Lau; social entrepreneur Doreen Mashu; and FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism coordinator Douglas McGuire, the panel looked at how the ability to deliver diverse and quality seed and planting material is impacting countries’ pledges.

Outlining some of the regional challenges in meeting restoration commitments, Ouedraogo said Burkina Faso has committed to planting 5 million hectares by 2030, but has experienced a 30-35 percent survival rate of trees after one year of planting. Native species remain threatened, he added.

Ngomin said Cameroon has committed to restoring 12 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030, with seeds forming an important part of reforestation programs.

Read more: FTA researchers set to highlight seeds, REDD+ and inclusive finance at landscapes forum

Tree seed diversity determines the extent and speed to which ambitious restoration targets can be achieved, said Karangwa. While widespread eucalyptus monoculture in Rwanda affects land productivity, restoration would bring multiple benefits to both people and landscapes. Although farmers know the importance of trees on farms, he added, they “feel like trees are competing with crops, because of the quality and the type of trees we are telling them to plant.” This shows that tree seed diversity is paramount, he said.

Lau emphasized that achieving the Bonn Challenge is also important to youth. She cited as examples a lack of knowledge and access to seeds in Paraguay, as well as bureaucratic hurdles in Mexico, as existing barriers to restoration.

Mashu, who is the founder of The Good Heritage in Zimbabwe – a wellness brand using non-timber forest resources to create products – underlined the need for a clear connection between restoration efforts and economic activity.

“Companies are thinking about doing good in additional to making financial returns,” she said. Thus, business can be a vehicle for restoration for both businesspeople and the scientists who support it, she explained.

McGuire addressed time-bound political commitments, and how to balance these with the time needed to understand the science and practical issues behind tree planting. There are new projects indicating huge momentum both politically and financially, he explained, but many stakeholders have yet to address the technicalities of planting material.

A woman looks out over an FLR area in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Building on Mashu’s comments, he also underlined the role of the private sector and embedding restoration into economic realities.

Following on with keynote speeches were scientist Marius Ekué, Bioversity International’s representative in Cameroon and a member of FTA, and ICRAF’s Ramni Jamnadass, who is the leader of FTA’s Flagship 1 on tree genetic resources.

Ekué introduced the Trees for Seeds initiative, which was launched at GLF Nairobi in August and aims to safeguard diversity. “Trees don’t have borders, so we work within a network,” he said, referring to networks that exist across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Read more: Hedging bets in resilient landscape restoration

In line with the initiative, researchers have developed decision support tools to help practitioners select the right tree species for the right places, such as RESTOOL. This can help to understand how seed systems work in different countries, including how they are harvested, produced and distributed. With this information, researchers can then assess how to deliver at scale using innovative technologies.

Similarly, Jamnadass covered the quality of restoration, and the right tree for the right place and the right purpose. She also highlighted other decision support tools such as Useful Tree Species for Africa and the Vegetation Map for Africa. Research needs to put food trees back into landscapes using the restoration agenda, she emphasized.

The panel then continued with a second phase of discussion, articulating concrete solutions for lifting barriers to scale – raising the need to invest in knowledge and science, greater collaboration between partners, harnessing local knowledge, strengthening delivery systems as a local level, bridging gaps between science and policy, and capacity building.

In closing, Erick Fernandes, an adviser on agriculture, forestry and climate change to the World Bank Group, reiterated that the desire to restore land is strong.

As stated by the Trees for Seeds project, using the right mix of native trees in forest restoration efforts is essential to deliver on multiple SDGs, including reducing poverty and food insecurity, and supporting biodiversity.

Planting a trillion trees, and ensuring that they are the right trees in the right place, offers a powerful development solution.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

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  • Restoration initiatives must consider how gender relations shape control over land

Restoration initiatives must consider how gender relations shape control over land

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A woman applies manure to a field to restore soil fertility in Nepal. Photo by M. Elias/Bioversity International

Marking International Day of Rural Women, Giulia Micheletti and Marlène Elias of Bioversity International discuss a framework for understanding how forest landscape restoration can promote gender equality.

It does so by safeguarding and advancing women’s land rights, encouraging their meaningful participation, and recognizing their expertise and priorities in restoration activities.

For many rural women, fulfilling everyday responsibilities such as agricultural production and home gardening, as well as collection of fodder, fuelwood, water and forest products have become more difficult due to environmental degradation. This adds to women’s heavy labor burdens, for example as they have to venture farther from home to gather these products.

Read more: Gender matters in Forest Landscape Restoration: A framework for design and evaluation

Yet, while the need to restore degraded lands and landscapes is pressing and gaining global attention, restoration initiatives often overlook rural women. As rural men typically have more public authority than women and are considered heads of their households, interventions that work with rural communities tend to favor them when it comes to choosing the areas and species to restore. In fact, gender inequality is an important but under-appreciated factor hindering restoration and the fair distribution of benefits from the process.   

A new framework to promote socially just and equitable interventions in forest landscape restoration has been published by gender researchers from Bioversity International, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF). Developed within the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), the framework explains that restoration initiatives must consider how gender relations shape access to and control over land and its use, and how changes in land use that may result from restoration can disadvantage women if their rights to resources, priorities, and contributions of labour and knowledge are overlooked. 

Read also: What do gender norms, innovation and trees have to do with each other?

Forest landscape restoration

Forest landscape restoration aims to regain the ecological integrity of deforested and degraded lands while simultaneously improving the wellbeing of forest-dependent communities. A critical issue in forest landscape restoration is safeguarding communities’ rights and access to their lands. On the one hand, community members with informal or insecure land rights can lose access to lands claimed under restoration initiatives. Adequate safeguards, grievance mechanisms and fair compensation must be in place to mitigate against such risks. 

On the other hand, if carried out in an inclusive way, forest landscape restoration can be a vehicle for strengthening the rights of marginalized groups. In this way, it can help reduce inequalities based on gender or other factors of social differentiation.

A woman walks toward the village of Gangarampur, Khulna, Bangladesh. Photo by D. Chandrabalan/Bioversity International

Everyone’s needs count

Different members of communities inhabiting the areas to be restored often have different views on degradation, priorities for the type of vegetation or density to be restored, approaches used to restore them and the kinds of benefits they want to gain from the restored lands. For example, women and men from different socioeconomic, generational and ethnic groups may have distinct preferences for plants with medicinal or nutritional properties, or for those that provide mulch, food, fodder or income.

The local ecological knowledge and expertise of these different community members needs to be recognized, and their active participation in decisions fostered to ensure that they benefit equally from restoration initiatives.

Read also: Improving livelihoods, equity and forests through sustainable management of NTFPs

As women and men have different capacities (assets, time, knowledge and so on) to participate in these initiatives, different measures are needed to encourage their participation. For example, community meetings should be scheduled at times and in places that are easy for women to reach and allow them to complete their chores and take care of the children, and participate. Strengthening women’s capacities to voice their interests in public forums and challenging norms that limit their influence in community affairs are also required to foster their active participation.

Benefits from forest landscape restoration can range from income-generating opportunities, improved ecosystem services, enhanced knowledge and skills on farming or resource management techniques to security of tenure. Forest landscape restoration initiatives must recognize how gender differences affect the capacities of both women and men to access these benefits and place both genders on an equal playing field to improve the livelihoods of all. 

By Giulia Micheletti and Marlène Elias, originally published at Bioversity International


Basnett, B.S., Elias, M., Ihalainen, M. and Paez Valencia, A.M. 2017. Gender matters in Forest Landscape Restoration: A framework for design and evaluation, CIFOR Report, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor.

Vira, B., Wildburger, C. and Mansourian, S. (Eds.) 2015. Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition. A Global Assessment Report, IUFRO World Series 33, IUFRO, Vienna.

This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund. 

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  • Decision support tools for forest landscape restoration: Current status and future outlook

Decision support tools for forest landscape restoration: Current status and future outlook

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Decision-making bodies at all scales face an urgent need to conserve remaining forests, and reestablish forest cover in deforested and degraded forest landscapes. The scale of the need, and the opportunity to make a difference, is enormous. Degradation is often viewed as ‘the problem’, and restoration as ‘the solution’. But, rather than being a goal, restoration is the means to achieve many goals. Forest landscape restoration is an active, long-term process to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well-being when forest cover, forest qualities and forest-based contributions to people are diminished. Despite the many advances in the development and application of decision support tools in FLR, this review reveals a gap in tools for the implementation of landscape-scale restoration initiatives and for guiding monitoring and adaptive management. The review also reveals that available tools primarily focus on assessing restoration opportunities at a broader scale, rather than within landscapes where implementation occurs. Evidence from research on community-based conservation and forest management suggests that tools for the empowerment, land rights and capacity building of local residents can help nurture strong coalitions of landscape restoration practitioners that apply adaptive management of restoration interventions, and evaluate potential restoration scenarios in their own landscapes.

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  • What does restoring the world’s forests mean for women’s rights?

What does restoring the world’s forests mean for women’s rights?

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Around the world, millions of hectares of land are being reforested as part of global efforts to combat climate change, restore ecological integrity and improve human well-being.

But it’s not just a matter of planting trees on empty lands. As in any landscape, the areas where restoration efforts are taking place are overlaid with uses, histories and political dynamics – including different rights and responsibilities for men and women. Researchers are just beginning to look at the implications of Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) for gender equality.

The movement presents both challenges and opportunities for improving women’s rights, says Markus Ihalainen, a research officer at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the lead center of the CGIAR Research Program on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), with women’s access to land as a major issue.

“In a lot of countries you already have good policies, guaranteeing women’s rights to land,” he says. “But then you find on the ground both a lack in implementation and a lack of awareness of those rights, and often social pressure that hinders women from claiming the land rights they hold legally.”

At the same time, FLR offers opportunities for women to be better included in land-use decisions and to participate in planting and restoration work, with potential benefits for their overall well-being.

Watch: Restoring landscapes, respecting rights

Research from Mali shows there are opportunities to leverage synergies between restoration and women’s well-being, and that restoration options involving certain indigenous species, as opposed to fast-growing timber species, can enhance women’s adaptive capacities,” Ihalainen says.

“But unlocking this potential often requires identifying, negotiating and reconciling trade-offs between different restoration goals. That is why it is so important to conduct a thorough gender analysis and involve women as stakeholders in the process,” he adds.

In a conversation with Forests News, Ihalainen shared more about the ongoing research on gender and restoration, and how it’s being put into practice around the world.

You just released a brief on gender and Forest Landscape Restoration. Can you tell us about that?

FLR is gaining a lot of political momentum, and there’s a lot of focus on it now. But in terms of gender and FLR, the discussion so far has been quite general and quite broad. And so what we have been interested in doing is to really look at what is happening on the ground: What are some of the ways in which FLR is implemented on the ground? What are some of the concrete challenges and opportunities to address gender equality? And really have a grounding discussion about that.

In terms of literature on gender and FLR, it’s still quite thin. Even FLR as a concept, in terms of what it’s become now – there’s quite little solid research on that. So what we wanted to do was to look at the broader literature, including the literature on REDD+ and other initiatives, and to really look at what some of the key entry points are for gender analysis when it comes to FLR.

And so we posed questions such as: What are some of the key risks to women’s rights? What are some of the possible synergies between various restoration goals and gender equality? And also looked at some of the trade-offs, and how they can be reconciled.

A woman carries gnetum in Minwoho, Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

And what did you find?

A big issue for gender and FLR is around land tenure. That is, on what land is restoration taking place? In areas where women don’t have land titles they’re not necessarily included as stakeholders in the FLR process at all. Then again, in many countries or in many contexts you have women planting trees, you have women nursing the seedlings, but in 20 years’ time it might be that they’re not able to reap the benefits.

We had a very telling example of this during a recent workshop in Nairobi, where Janet Chihanga from the Komaza Foundation had been working with women on the coast of Kenya to restore and plant trees in degraded lands that weren’t really claimed by anyone.

She found that some eight years later — when it wasn’t even time for harvesting, but just thinning — the men who previously showed no interest in the land which the women had been working on for all this time, suddenly turned up and claimed the land. Because there were trees there.

Read more: Gender integration and gender-responsive research

What does the research suggest for action going forward?

I think what’s really important is to look at what is actually happening on the ground. That is really what needs to inform this discussion. It is a long process and it will require everything from policy to addressing issues to do with the implementation of policy, to changing and transforming norms on the ground.

That will, of course, require the collaboration of a lot of different partners. It won’t necessarily happen overnight, but I think in the short term with restoration initiatives, some of the really critical things will be to implement and ensure that the principles of FPIC — or free, prior and informed consent — are upheld and implemented in a gender-responsive way.

What needs to be done next?

When we look at FLR and gender, because there are so many stakeholders involved, and because there are so many different approaches, it’s very difficult to make a broad statement about what needs to be done.

But I think one of the reasons for me, personally, why I am engaged in this, is because this is really an opportunity to bring these issues up to the forefront of discussions.

Now there is a lot of focus — a lot of political emphasis — on these areas, these lands, that have not necessarily been the priority of a lot of policymakers for a long time. Now there’s more and more emphasis on these areas, and so bringing the issues of rights and gender equality into that discussion is really critical.

And it’s a good opportunity to do that now.

Read more: Gender equality and social inclusion

By Deanna Ramsay and Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Markus Ihalainen at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

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  • Restoring landscapes, respecting rights

Restoring landscapes, respecting rights

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Scientist Markus Ihalainen from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) led a panel discussion on gender considerations in Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) held from 19-20 December in Bonn, Germany. Speaking with Forests News after the session, Ihalainen shared reflections on where international discussions are now, what the research is showing, and how action can bring fairer outcomes going forward.

Originally published by CIFOR.

This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Enhancing tenure security and gender equality in the context of forest landscape restoration

Enhancing tenure security and gender equality in the context of forest landscape restoration

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The Enhancing tenure security and gender equality in the context of forest landscape restoration Discussion Forum was held at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn on Dec. 19, 2017.

The breadth and ambition of international commitments to restore the environment often hide the failure to consult – and directly benefit – the communities who rely on the targeted landscapes. Furthermore, past initiatives have occasionally exacerbated existing social inequities. Therefore, involving local communities, institutions and interests is necessary for a sustainable environmental agenda.

By drawing on a broad range of stakeholders in an open discussion, the forest landscape restoration (FLR) agenda aims to fully incorporate gender awareness and residents’ concerns. As a general theme, the panel sought to identify conflicts and synergies between forest restoration, tenure security and gender equality.

The session was hosted by the World Bank, with Program on Forests (PROFOR), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This video was originally published by the GLF.

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  • How are China, Nepal and Ethiopia restoring forest landscapes?

How are China, Nepal and Ethiopia restoring forest landscapes?

A researcher explains the use of ground penetrating radar to measure peat depth to professors and students. Photo by D. Ramsay/CIFOR
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Comparative study launched on sidelines of the Global Landscapes Forum finds success in devolving property rights.

Forest landscape restoration has gained a high political profile internationally, but still faces the challenge of how best to involve local communities to ensure the success of programs on the ground. This is an issue that is all the more challenging given the diversity of environmental and sociopolitical contexts around the globe.

Property rights, for instance, are widely accepted as a crucial starting point for restoration — but policymakers struggle to clarify and secure rights over forests. In view of this, researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), including from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), turned to successful FLR programs in China, Nepal and Ethiopia to identify lessons that could be applied elsewhere.

A woman prepares rice for cooking in Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Specifically, they examined how the devolution of access and management rights to local communities provided incentives for them to invest in restoration activities. The study, included in a Special Issue of International Forestry Review on forest landscape restoration, focuses on people managing forests in mountainous and hilly areas.

The special issue was launched on the sidelines of the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, where FTA also participated in discussion forums and panels.

By drawing examples from dramatically different national contexts, the comparative study illustrates “the diversity of paths that the devolution of rights took, but how it had similar results,” says CIFOR senior scientist and lead author Peter Cronkleton.

All three cases of forest tenure reform led to the decentralization of forestry institutions and the partial devolution of management rights to local forest-dependent people, Cronkleton says. This resulted in different comanagement systems that reflect national and local contexts.

However, the general outcome was the same: local households that gained clear and secure benefits from restoration efforts not only invested in management activities, but also helped to protect the resources from overuse and excluded outsiders. Ultimately, this led to an increase in forest cover and improvements in livelihoods.

Read more: FTA at GLF Bonn 2017


In Nepal, devolution passed rights to community-level user groups controlling nearby remnant forests, while in China’s Changting county, reforms resulted in a varied array of individuals and local groups controlling different types of forest for different purposes, the study notes.

In Ethiopia, a national forest was subdivided to grant control to local organizations representing subgroups from surrounding communities.

“All or most forests in question started as public or collective property within systems that placed strict restrictions on forest access and use for local stakeholders. However, in each case, national agencies or other authorities lacked the capacity or political will to control and enforce restrictions,” the research points out.

This led to forest degradation and deforestation, as various stakeholders “extracted what they could, and there was little incentive to forgo immediate benefits or invest in the resources’ future.” This scenario, common to the various case studies, started changing following tenure reform.

Now, “Nepal is known as a global leader in community-based forest management,” says CIFOR senior scientist Himlal Baral. More than 20,000 Community Forestry User Groups, making up 40 percent of the population, now manage 33 percent of Nepal’s forests.

“Before, locals had a tendency to overutilize resources,” says Baral. “Today, they have incentives to protect the landscape, and they see restoration as being closely connected to their livelihoods.” From his perspective, this illustrates how the multiple benefits of FLR are key to advancing environmental targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In Changting, China, policy reform took a different path. In the study area, collective property rights over forests offered low incentives for restoration. In this case, the key was devolving rights to individual households. Individual forest rights combined with credits and subsidies provided incentives for households, cooperatives and enterprises to invest in FLR.

In Ethiopia, some of the poorest forest-dependent residents organized into user groups under participatory forest management programs (PFM). They were encouraged to develop management plans for lands that were not classified as production or protected forests, and were allowed to extract non-timber products in return.

An estimated 1.5 million hectares of forest are currently under PFM institutions, and an additional two million could be rehabilitated with this mechanism as part of the commitments under the Bonn Challenge.

Read more: Forest Landscape Restoration in Hilly and Mountainous Regions: Special Issue


Indicators of forest devolution success range from an increase in tree cover to reduction in conflicts between local communities and the state, as was the case with the Chilimo PFM program in Ethiopia. Though there were many successes in FLR, the study also points out emerging challenges.

One is whether local communities have ownership over the environmental services produced by their restoration efforts, often by forgoing other benefits, and whether they should be compensated by other stakeholders. “This will be an ongoing question: how to create equitable and efficient systems for having payments for those services,” says Cronkleton.

In comanagement systems, communities are required to demonstrate their compliance with forestry regulations. According to Cronkleton, “the tendency to impose more and more elaborate management and reporting requirements can create a disincentive.”

From his perspective, devolving property rights to local actors is as important as including them in determining how the restoration should take place. “Comanagement should involve an ongoing negotiation and adaptation to new learnings. It is a process rather than a one-off decision.”

Further research could explore how different ways of devolving rights affect restoration efforts. For now, scientists hope this study will raise awareness among policymakers and practitioners of the need to involve locals when designing rights systems and compliance mechanisms. After all, says Cronkleton, “it is key to the success of the initiative.”

Read more: Forest and landscape restoration severely constrained by a lack of attention to the quantity and quality of tree seed: Insights from a global survey

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Peter Cronkleton at [email protected] or Himlal Baral at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

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