Week 1 – Understanding FLR

6 Aug 2018

Understanding Forest and Landscape Restoration

Posted: 8/6/2018
Assignment due: 8/10/2018 
Next lesson post date: 8/13/2018
Author: Khalil Walji, UN-FAO

What’s all the restoration buzz about? What are we restoring, how do we do it, and when do we know it is restored? This introduction to Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) will reveal the fundamentals, opportunities, and benefits that lie ahead on the road to restoring Africa’s degraded landscapes.

This weeks learning will cover:

  • What is FLR
    • Introductory Exploration
  • Restoration Interventions 
  • Restoration Benefits and Opportunities 
  • Case Studies from Ethiopia and Nigeria
    • A snapshot of Global Restoration Initiatives
  • Your Challenge (Writing Exercise) – due Friday


What is FLR?  

Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is the ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. FLR is more than just planting trees – it is restoring a whole landscape “forward” to meet present and future needs and to offer multiple benefits and land uses over time.

Ecological functionality, also ecological integrity, refers to the ability of an ecosystem to maintain vital processes while providing livelihoods to various organisms. The additional focus of improving human well-being ensures that a landscape can meet present and future needs while serving multiple benefits and land uses.

Restoration can be achieved through various approaches of which tree planting resembles only one of them. It can also be accomplished by: reforestation, afforestation, change in management practices such as for soil and water conservation, agro-forestry, protected wildlife reserves, rehabilitation – all contributing to a mosaic of a landscape.

Introductory exploration:

  1. Explore the basics of FLR through this interactive module prepared by the International Forestry Students Association. (15 minutes)
  2. When designing your own intervention, it is important to know where to start. Read through the home page of this SFM Toolbox module to explore FAO’s suggested 4 key questions. (30 minutes)

Restoration Interventions:

Once a particular area is defined and stakeholder needs are identified, restoration interventions can be achieved through a variety of practices, e.g.:

  • Natural Regeneration (absence of management)
  • Planting trees with specific features (like fruit trees or legumes to improve soil fertility)
  • Introduction or enhancing of sustainable management practices
  • Creation of buffer zones to protect certain areas from external impacts like floods

These methods work, depending on the situation, and can be combined to increase the probability of restoration success. Though there are a range of restoration intervention types available, selecting the activity (or activities) thoroughly that best fits the needs of your landscape and its stakeholders is crucial. One of the largest African restoration initiatives (AFR100) focuses, specifically, on two types of restoration activities:

  • Restore to mosaic landscape: Establish and manage trees on agricultural land, either through planting or natural regeneration. This practice is known as “agroforestry” when trees are interspersed with crops, and “silvopasture” when trees are interspersed with livestock.
  • Restore to forests: Planting or natural regeneration of trees on degraded or deforested land. Degraded land can be restored to natural forests for ecosystem services and a carbon sink. In some cases, degraded land can also be restored into productive forests for timber, fuel-wood and other forest products.

Restoration Benefits and Opportunities: 

The importance of regaining a landscapes ecological integrity is in the many benefits that healthy ecosystems provide over time to society at large and more importantly to the communities who rely on them . Some general benefits include; increasing habitat for terrestrial fauna, improving air and water quality, protecting soils from erosion and degradation, sequestering carbon and helping to mitigate impacts of climate change, along with a host of other economic, environmental and social benefits.

There is an immense opportunity at hand with over 2 billion hectares of deforested or degraded land ready for some type of restoration intervention. At the same time a great amount of political will for FLR with over 160 million ha committed for restoration is beginning to mobilize flows of public and private money for restoration initiatives.

More about benefits: https://infoflr.org/what-flr/benefits-flr

Case Studies:

Explore the restoration case studies of Ethiopia and Nigeria to get a short overview of ongoing projects and direct benefits.

Familiarize yourself with some global restoration initiatives:

  • AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative) is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030. It aims to accelerate restoration to enhance food security, increase climate change resilience and mitigation, and combat rural poverty. It is a partnership of more than 20 African governments and numerous technical and financial partners.
  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes.
  • The Great Green Wall when built will be the largest living structure on the planet – an 8000km natural wonder of the world stretching across the entire width of the Continent. It is currently being implemented in more than 20 countries across Africa’s Sahel region The initiative brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership of the African Union Commission. By 2030, the ambition is to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create a minimum of 350,000 jobs in rural areas.
  • The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) is a proactive global network that unites different stakeholders like governments, academic institutes and communities under a common goal: to restore the world’s lost and degraded forests and their surrounding landscapes. Specifically, the GPFLR responds directly to the Bonn Challenge with a purpose to catalyze dynamic, voluntary action through sharing diverse experiences on restoration efforts.
  • The Global Restoration Initiative (WRI) works with governments and international partners to inspire, enable and implement restoration on degraded landscapes, returning them to economic and environmental productivity. It has identified more than two billion hectares of cleared and degraded forest and agricultural lands suitable for restoration. Using this data as a foundation, WRI works to promote restoration of degraded lands back into natural forests, agroforestry systems, or productive agriculture.

Test Your Understanding

Find out how restoration ready you are by taking this short quiz. For training participants wishing to receive a certificate of completion, this quiz is mandatory.


Your Restoration Challenge

Where is your landscape, the landscape you want to improve and create a positive change within? In 200 words, share what you perceive to be the biggest challenge or threat facing your landscape. ‘Your landscape’ can be mosaic, agricultural, urban, forest, or even a village, town, city or national level reflection.

Share your 200 word reflection on Facebook alongside a picture of your landscape (if you have one). Don’t forget to use #GLFNairobi2018 and #ThinkLandscape so you can see posts shared by all. The best responses will be shared on the GLF Site on International Youth Day (August 12th).

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