Workshop on Degraded Forest Rehabilitation and Sustainable Forest Management (1-12 July, 2014)

Updated:2014/9/1 10:26:01


Degradation of forest ecosystems remains a major problem in almost all countries and this is particularly severe in the more densely populated tropical countries. The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration estimates the extent of degraded lands worldwide as about 2.00 billion hectares. As per an estimate of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) there are 500 million ha of degraded primary and secondary forests in the tropics.  In addition there are 350 million hectares of tropical forest land, which is so degraded that forest regrowth has not occurred and which are mostly occupied by grasses and shrubs.  In South East Asia alone about 117 million ha or over 50% of the forest land is considered as degraded.

FAO defines forest degradation as “changes within a forest that affect the structure and functions of the stand or site and thereby lowers its capacity to supply products and services”. The major concern therefore is the impact of degradation on human wellbeing through reducing the flow of goods and services. Vast tracts of forests are unable to produce the full potential of products and services and output most often remains far below the potential. This is particularly a cause of concern considering the increasing demand for food, fuel, fibre and a whole range of ecological services like maintaining and improving watershed values, improving carbon sequestration and storage, protecting biological diversity and enhancing the aesthetic values of landscapes. The urgency of rehabilitating degraded forests has become particularly important in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation to reduce carbon emission, a significant share of which is contributed by deforestation and forest degradation.

In many countries unscientific agriculture has been a major factor that contributed to land degradation. Escalating demand for food and other products has led to cultivation of marginal areas, which lose their productivity within a short period and are then abandoned. Faulty water management practices have led to salinization leading to loss of productivity. Vast stretches of grasslands – especially Imperata cylindrica (or Aalang alang) – in South and South East Asia is an outcome of shifting cultivation followed by annual fires that prevent the process of natural restoration.  

Efforts to rehabilitate degraded lands have a long history and a wealth of experience has been gained based on the work done during the last many decades. The ITTO Guidelines on restoration, management and rehabilitation of degraded and secondary forests (ITTO 2002) outlines the principles and actions at two levels namely (a) policy, planning and management level and (b) stand level. Most often the outcomes of restoration/ rehabilitation efforts have been mixed. There is an urgent need to improve the quality of forest restoration/ rehabilitation at the site/ landscape level and to find effective ways to undertake these activities in the context of broader environmental, social and economic needs and interests. In fact restoration of productivity is an integral part of rebuilding the natural capital to ensure that the present and future generations are able to enjoy the full range of goods and services that the land is able to produce.

It is in this context that the APFNet is organizing this Workshop to provide an opportunity to assess the current state of knowledge on restoration of degraded forests and to assess the future directions drawing upon the wealth of knowledge available on the subject.

Objectives and Outputs

- Assess the current state of rehabilitation of degraded forests in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly focusing on East Asia and South East Asia.

- Analyze the economic, social and environmental issues involved in forest degradation and their implications on rehabilitation/ restoration efforts;

- Examine the future scenarios for forest rehabilitation taking into the major drivers that cause ecosystem degradation, giving due attention to emerging policies relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

- Provide an opportunity to share knowledge on rehabilitation experience in the participating countries and to identify future options, particularly drawing upon successes and failures and the emerging approaches for adopting ecosystem approaches for restoration.

Key Issues and Questions

Taking advantage of the vast experience and knowledge accumulated so far through a process of dialogue and discussion, the Workshop will attempt to address the following issues/ questions:

- Are the efforts to rehabilitate/ restore degraded ecosystems making any impact and what is the net effect? Are the efforts able to catch up with the pace of degradation?

- How do we determine the right level of intervention to ensure a process of sustainable ecosystem recovery? 

- What are the myths and misconceptions relating to rehabilitation of degraded forests? How do we overcome them and pursue a sustainable approach towards ecosystem management?

- What are the major drivers impacting ecosystem degradation and what should be done to counter them?  What are the future scenarios in this regard?

- How do we actually measure the outcomes of ecosystem restoration?  Based on these indicators how much of the ongoing restoration efforts can be regarded as true restoration?

- What is the economics of restoration of degraded forests?  How do we measure the economic, social, cultural and environmental importance of ecosystem restoration?

- What should be done to increase the flow of resources in support of ecosystem restoration? How effective are the international initiatives in support of rehabilitation of degraded forests?

- What should be done to improve the policy, legal and institutional environment for increased investment in restoration and rebuilding the natural capital?

- What is the feasibility of the ecosystem approach to restoration of degraded forests adopting a landscape approach? What is the experience so far in this regard?

More questions will emerge during the course of the Workshop and the entire thrust will be to provide an opportunity for objective and critical thinking.

Main Topics/Areas

The Workshop will attempt to provide a broad analytical framework to assess the current state of forest rehabilitation specifically focusing on the following:

- Global overview of the problem

- Drivers of degradation and long term scenarios.

- Rehabilitation technologies: Lessons learnt and what needs to be done

- Economics of rehabilitation of degraded areas

- Policy and institutional aspects of landscape restoration, including community level involvement

- Environmental dimensions of and ecosystem restoration

- Macro-level issues – Policy, planning and management of restoration efforts at the national level

- Micro-level issues: Dealing with site level issues relating to rehabilitation

List of Experts Invited

Dr. C.T.S. Nair

Prof. Lamb David

Dr. Louis Putzel

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