Forest landscape restoration: From local to regional

forest landscape restoration, trees, forest

“The Global Landscape Forum’s Digital Summits are more than just webinars. They’re chances to dialogue with influencers and join diverse communities of practice in landscapes. Join the world’s leading experts for presentations and conversations on the most pressing issues for human well-being and the environment.”

-Global Landscapes Forum

forest landscape restoration, trees, forest
Prosper Sabongo, a PHD student measures the circumference of a Funtunia Africana in the forest reserve near the village of Masako. Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

On September 11th 2018, the Global Landscape’s Forum (GLF) hosted a digital summit in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) called

Scaling up forest landscape restoration commitments from local to regional level.

The summit aimed to address topics such as: 

      • how to scale up forest landscape restoration (FLR), 
    • what is needed to get FLR under the scheme of the Bonn Challenge and its regional initiative AFR100 in large-scale practice on the ground,
    • what is needed to boost and enable FLR implementation scale, and
    • which political priority setting and funding schemes are needed.

Speakers included:

Stefan Schmitz (Keynote speaker): Head of Directorate Food, Rural Developments, Natural Resources, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany

Valérie Ramahavalisoa: Head of the Service for watershed management at the Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests, National Focal Point for soil projects, and Member of the FLR national committee

Simon Rafanomezantsoa: Senior Officer, Terrestrial Biodiversity, WWF Madagascar Country Office

Tim Rayden: Representative of Trillion Trees Programme, a cooperative initiative between WCS, WWF and Birdlife International that supports forest restoration projects


According to the UNCCD Global Land Outlook over 20% of cropland in Africa show signs of decreasing productivity. Nearly 45% of the world’s agricultural land is located on drylands, mostly in Asia and Africa, supplying about 60% of the world’s food production. While necessary for feeding an ever-growing global population, agricultural expansion threatens local and regional ecosystems as well as vital ecosystem services.

In 2015, the Madagascan government pledged to restore approximately four million hectares of forests, an area the size of Switzerland, by 2030, says Valérie Ramahavalisoa, Head of the Service for watershed management at the Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests, National Focal Point for soil projects, and Member of the FLR national committee. A multi-sectoral approach is what the country aims to follow, and through legislative methods such as implementing sanctions and fines against illegal logging practices.

Inspiration has been taken from countries like Ethiopia and Ruanda in terms of massive mobilisation. Monthly Green Days promote climate change awareness and introduce methods to make communities more sustainable in the long run.

Sunrise in north-eastern Madagascar. The mountains around show patches of forest degradation and landscape conversion. Small boats used for fishing and transport also contribute to forest degradation, as trees are used to build them. Photo by Adriane März

Lack of technical knowledge is not the problem

The real challenge, however, is a lack of strong political commitment and will, says Stefan Schmitz, Head of Directorate Food, Rural Developments, Natural Resources, Federal   Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany.

“The issue at hand is by no means a technical one. The necessary technical knowledge to restore landscape already exists,” Mr. Schmitz points out. “Many encouraging examples are available worldwide, but they have yet to become a fixed part of mainstream thinking,” he says.

Mr. Schmitz highlights four key building blocks that make up the so-called Good Rule Governance. They include:

– decentralisation of government power from the top down,

– empowering communities from the bottom up to enable citizens to articulate their needs, fight for their rights and assume responsibility for their lives,

– territorial policies and instruments that allow for legally binding designation for defined land uses, and

– governance of tenure of land, fisheries and other productive sectors.

plant nursery, congo, watering plants
Plant nursery in Yangambi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

Bridging the gap between top and bottom

The key step of making forest landscape restoration a realistic priority is to combat poverty. As long as alternative practices for ensuring communities’ livelihoods are not available, natural resources will continue to be exploited. If agricultural and food systems are to feed a global population, they must be productive and sustainable.

Tim Rayden, representative of the Trillion Trees Program, a collaborative partnership set up in 2017 including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF-UK and Birdlife International, highlighted the importance of closing what is known as the implementation gap between commitment and action.

“What is needed are people on the ground to identify and specify exactly what is needed and where. Both governmental and multi-lateral donors are needed to develop conservation enterprises in key landscape areas,” Mr. Rayden says.

When asked if non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are capable of mobilising large-scale funding and engaging the private sector, Mr. Rayden points out that NGOs may actually play a critical part in receiving multilateral funds, as successfully obtaining such funds often calls for the collaboration between the private sector and NGOs. FLR doesn’t aim to achieve seamless agreements between different stakeholders, but rather reach a reasonable middle ground between conservation and business.

mau forest, kenya, forest
Aerial view of Southwest Mau Forest. Photo by Patrick Sheperd/CIFOR

More than just planting trees

“FLR is not just about planting trees,” says Simon Rafanomezantsoa, Senior Officer, Terrestrial Biodiversity of the WWF Madagascar Country Office. “It needs to address many aspects of landscape.” In order to address these different aspects of landscape, good local structure of governance is essential. Mr. Rafanomezantsoa reminds us that local communities are the users of natural resources at a landscape level, and this social dimension of landscape restoration must be taken into consideration.

Local communities, private stakeholders, forest administrations and multi-level governments must be included in a capacity building plan. Flexibility and understanding between the scientific and non-scientific communities is critical, says Mr. Rafanomezantsoa.

Mr. Rafanomezantsoa considers the biggest challenge in upscaling to be the promotion of national strategies and all levels: governmental, ground level, NGOs, etc. Practices must be brought from the ground up to a national level.

Don’t miss the GLF’s next upcoming digital summit on how Congo Basin peatlands help mitigate the impact of climate change. The summit will be held on October 4th 2018 from 12:00 to 13:30 CET.  

For more information and to register for the summit, please visit:

Les tourbières: Un passage à découvrir

The summit will be conducted in French and a recording will be provided after the event has ended.

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