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The Restoration Diagnostic: Global Restoration Initiatives
Most countries around the world have an untapped resource opportunity lying within their borders: the restoration of forest landscapes. “Forest landscape restoration” is the process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human wellbeing across cleared or degraded forest landscapes. It can result in a variety of land uses, ranging from vast tracts of dense natural forests, to high-yield agroforestry systems, to a mosaic of wooded areas amid productive agricultural fields. Forest landscape restoration does not call for increasing tree cover beyond what would be ecologically appropriate for a particular location.
Forest landscape restoration can yield a number of economic, social, and environmental benefits. Economically, it can diversify economies, reduce damages from natural hazards, generate marketable forest and agricultural products, and support recreation and tourism. Socially, it can create jobs, help alleviate local poverty, increase food security, support cultural heritage, and strengthen national pride. Environmentally, it can improve and sustain soil and water quality, conserve biodiversity, and help people mitigate and adapt to climate change. Furthermore, forest landscape restoration can help governments meet several national and international agreements and commitments including those regarding reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+), the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Sustainable Development Goals, the New York Declaration on Forests, and the Bonn Challenge.
History indicates that forest landscape restoration is possible. Many countries—including Costa Rica, Niger, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States—have recovered forest landscapes during the past century in a manner that could be considered “successful” in terms of being at a significant scale and generating stakeholder benefits. Our analysis of these and other historical case studies—16 in all— complemented by peer-reviewed literature suggests that a successful restoration process exhibits three common themes:
World Resource Institute, Craig Hanson