Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) is the process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
The GPFLR believes that this goal is best achieved through a landscape approach to sustainable development where natural resource use (forests, energy, agriculture, water, etc.), conservation and livelihoods within a given area are considered in an integrated manner.
Landscapes are often seen as large-scale physical areas comprising overlapping ecological, social and economic activities and values.They generally have multiple functions, as they provide a variety of services to society, such as biodiversity, food, water, shelter, livelihood, economic growth, and human well-being. All these services are interlinked; so if the agricultural area in a landscape expands, it will have repercussions for the area covered by forests. This makes landscapes an ideal unit for planning and decision making, as it allows for the integration of various sector plans and programmes into one single spatial context and for a better understanding of trade-offs, options and scenarios around proposed decisions and desired outcomes.
With FLR, a diverse range of stakeholders, with diverse perspectives are brought together to identify, negotiate and implement practices that restore an agreed balance of ecological, social and economic benefits of forests and trees within a broad range of land uses.
FLR practitioners recognize that by building sustainable relationships between communities, government authorities, commercial interests and other forest dependents and beneficiaries, we can restore and sustain landscapes that fulfil the socio-economic needs of both people and support environmental outcomes that restore function and health in them.
By adopting a landscape approach, we learn how to look at landscapes from a multi-functional perspective, combining natural resources management with environmental and livelihood considerations. People and their institutions are therefore perceived as an integral part of the system rather than as external agents operating within a landscape.
Graphic by EcoAgriculture Partners, photo by Nate Dappen
FLR is not a new idea; many people in different places are already doing it. And while the underlying premise goes by many different names, the fundamental goal is to shift emphasis away from simply maximizing tree cover to truly considering forest functions in the overall configuration of landscapes people depend on.