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Map and Analyse Restoration Potential
Across the globe lie more than a billion hectares of lost and degraded forest land that could be restored. It’s a vast area with the potential to enrich communities, their environment and enterprises large and small. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss. In mankind’s time on Earth, the area of forest on the planet has almost halved. South of the boreal forest that stretches across northern latitudes from Alaska and Canada to Scandinavia and Russia, only a fifth of the world’s forests remain undisturbed.
The pressure on the world’s natural resources is too great for any business or political leader to ignore. As the world’s population spirals, forests continue to fall, taking with them forest goods and services vital to local communities such as clean, secure water supplies, wood for fuel and timber and habitats for wildlife.
Measures to put a brake on deforestation are high on the international political agenda. But while we’re preventing further losses, we can make precious gains, too.
Turning the tide
In countries across the world, there are pockets of damaged and degraded forests that we can bring back to life. Both local and large-scale restoration projects have already made a dramatic difference to landscapes and livelihoods. And the techniques applied there could have a similar effect on other damaged landscapes.
Growing demand for bioenergy and forest products, the pressure on carbon densities and food security, plus the desperate need for socioeconomic opportunities among forest communities, all underline the need for forest and landscape restoration. But it’s a new and evolving practice that begs many questions.
How large an area is available and suitable for restoration? Where are the main opportunity areas located? What types of opportunities do they present?
What are the potential benefits?
Evidence gathered by the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) from around the world has started to provide answers to these questions, and to map the extraordinary potential of landscape restoration in addressing the challenges facing societies today and in the future.
Forests for the 21st Century: The evidence of opportunity
Our analysis considered two types of restoration opportunity:
– Mosaic-type restoration, in more populated and higher-land-use areas with significantly-reduced tree cover, and
– Broad-scale restoration, in areas where the land-use pressure is low and forests can grow more freely.
Our map plots those areas where there is a high likelihood of finding these opportunities, rather than pinpointing restoration sites precisely.
The preliminary findings of our assessment indicate that there is a total area of lost and degraded forest lands of more than a billion hectares that is suitable and available for restoration – an area greater than that of China.
These areas should not all be restored in the same fashion. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each forest landscape is unique and needs its own restoration design which responds in a balanced way to local preferences and needs. Lands that are currently used for crop production or grazing, for example, are not suitable for broad-scale restoration. They may, however, offer opportunities for restoration in mixed land-use mosaics. Many historically deforested areas belong to this category.
The opportunities we have identified represent a vital piece of the climate change jigsaw; one that we can put in place immediately, and which allows all countries, not just those who still have forests, to help bring landscapes back to life.