By René Zamora-Cristales, Salima Mahamoudou, Ruchika Singh, Will Anderson, Peter Ndunda, Mariana Oliviera, Katie Reytar, John Brandt, Marcelo Matsumoto
Restoring degraded landscapes can bring water, food and income to local people while safeguarding the environment. But if communities, companies, and governments rush the process, there can be unintended consequences, from campaigns that plant trees in the wrong places to large projects that violate the rights of the people living on the land or ignore gender, class and other social differences.
With proper planning, though, government restoration pledges to the Bonn Challenge, AFR100 and Initiative 20×20 can turn into high-impact work that provides new opportunities for people living in the landscape and the natural environment. What does “proper planning” look like, though? Every landscape or country is different, but these three steps can help avoid pitfalls and accelerate success.
1. Understand the State of the Land and Plan with People
In addition to understanding the current physical state of their landscapes before they start to restore, communities and governments need to assess the social landscape by mapping the actors who are involved in or impacted by restoration activities.
Because restoration is about more than planting trees, it’s essential to recognize and integrate the needs, priorities, and local expertise of people in all parts of the process. Throughout Africa’s Sahel region, for example, farmers and herders often fight over who has the right to use the land. Gender matters, too: in Brazil’s Amazon, men have access to first-hand information on restoration while women rely on second-hand sources, creating a power imbalance that reinforces gender inequality.
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Want to learn more about the path to success? Check out these Resources for Forest and Landscape Restoration.