Forest Landscape Restoration

The right tree for the right place at the right time

By The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

Lone desert tree (2005-12-01) by R. Khalil/Biodiversity InternationalThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

Nearly 3.2 billion people are hurt by landscape degradation

The loss of trees and forests makes the soil less healthy, less productive, reduces the available nutrients in crops, downgrades the quality of earth's water sources and threatens global biodiversity. 

FORESTS + LANDSCAPES: Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is about building back lost ecosystem functions so that plants and animals, both above ground and below, are healthy and resilient. More than bringing back trees, FLR is a means to achieve many environmental goals. Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) senior scientist, Leigh Winowiecki, explains:

4 questions: restoration & soil (2021-06-07) by CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

6 principles of FLR (2021-11-09) by FTAThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FTA follows 6 principles of forest landscape restoration

These principles acknowledge that forest landscape restoration (FLR) is about optimizing natural ecosystems and improving quality of life for the people who live and work in them. 

1-3 principles of FLR (2021-11-09) by FTAThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FLR is holistic

The first three principles assert that FLR should focus on the entire landscape (not just forests)encourage participatory governance with all stakeholders and restore multiple ecological, social and economic functions that benefit everyone. 

4-6 principles of FLR (2021-11-09) by FTAThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FLR enhances landscapes and adapts to local contexts

The next three principles of FLR state that restoration should be about sustainably managing landscapes using a diverse toolbox of approaches to fit the local context. These approaches should focus on long-term resilience for the landscapes and the people that live within them.

Mangrove sapling (2012-12-04) by Neil Palmer/CIATThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

Restored landscapes bring back ecosystem services

As tree-cover increases or decreases due to human activities, so do the associated ecosystem services, which include clean air, water and nutrient-rich soil. This relationship is embedded in the Forest Transition Curve

There are 3 broad categories of FLR:

Soil restoration (2015-08-22) by Georgina Smith/CIATThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

1. Tree planting

Tree planting has gained popularity in the past few years with endorsements from influential people from all walks of life. From government leaders to CEOs and YouTubers, people are pledging to plant trillions of trees to save the planet. 

Restoring peatlands in Indonesia (2019-04-11) by Aris Sanjaya/CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

Right tree. Right place. Right time.

Planting alone is not sufficient. However, when the right species are planted in the right place at the right time, they can be powerful tools for landscape restoration.

Dispelling the top 7 tree planting misconceptions (2020-09-28) by CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

Learn about the top 7 tree-planting misconceptions!

Peatland forests (2017-03-26) by Nanang Sujana/CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

2. Natural regeneration

In many cases, the best approach is to sit back and let nature do its job rewilding unused or abandoned land. This allows native plants and animals to return at their own pace and create a thriving community that is perfectly suited to its environment. 

Listen to CIFOR-ICRAF senior scientist, Manuel Guariguata, discuss natural landscape regeneration and important conditions for restoration success.

Why is natural regeneration an option for Forests Landscape Restoration? (2021-09-16) by CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

GML project Yanonge (2020-05-19) by Fiston Wasanga/CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

3. Hybrid approach

Natural restoration is not always possible for land that is constantly used for farming or has been significantly degraded. In these cases, a hybrid approach such as assisted natural regeneration (ANR), which uses some tree planting and some natural regeneration, may be best.

CASE STUDY: assisted natural regeneration (ANR) in Zambia's Miombo woodlands is helping local charcoal producers maintain their industry while also restoring the landscape.

Assisted Natural Regeneration: a restoration solution for Zambia’s charcoal-makers (2021-06-24) by CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

Planting Acacia trees (2021-04-15) by Axel Fassio/CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

When it's not possible to restore a whole forest...

it is still possible to bring back trees through agroforestry – planting trees on farms – or through trees in urban green spaces.

Indian forest (2014-05-28) by E. Hermanowicz/Biodiversity InternationalThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FACT or FICTION?

Test your knowledge on forest landscape restoration...

1. Tree-planting is the only way to restore degraded land.

Tree planting in Ethiopia (2016-05-17) by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FICTION!

Tree-planting is just one tool in the toolbox of restoration practices and techniques. Natural regeneration, agroforestry, rewetting peatlands and mosaic landscapes are a few other methods. 

2. Forest landscape restoration is only about trees and tree-health.

Soil restoration in Ethiopia (2015-08-09) by Georgina Smith/CIATThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FICTION!

Landscape restoration is about "restoring ecosystem function," so that the soil, animals, human inhabitants and trees exist together in a healthy balance. 

3. FLR can help mitigate and adapt to climate change

Planting Aformosia (2018-06-18) by Axel Fassio/CIFORThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FACT!

Restored lands are rich providers of ecosystem services such as carbon storage, clean water, biodiversity and healthy soil. However, while forests and trees can help mitigate climate change, it is also essential that countries cut carbon emissions and reduce waste. 

4. FLR means sacrificing farmlands for forests

Agroforestry for dairy farming (2013-11-22) by Sherry Odeyo/ICRAFThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

FICTION

Trees can be grown on farmland in ways that improve crop productivity and help restore the landscape. Trees can also grow valuable, nutritious foods that support healthy diets and increase household incomes. These practices are known as agroforestry. 

Tree-planting ceremony (2013-02-16) by ICRAFThe CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

When the right tree grows in the right place at the right time, forest landscape restoration benefits everyone, everywhere.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Culture Meets Climate
Bringing artists, scientists, and museums together to reimagine climate data
View theme
Google apps