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Integrating Forests and Landscape Restoration into National Forest Monitoring Systems

Blog | Fri, 27 Aug, 2021 · 7 min read
Integrating Forests and Landscape Restoration into National Forest Monitoring Systems

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration was declared to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Decade is building global political momentum for a sustainable future and will catalyze the implementation of thousands of restoration initiatives. Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) will be a key mechanism for land-based restoration during the UN Decade, which runs from 2021 to the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030.

FLR is a process that aims to recover, enhance, maintain and foster more resilient and sustainable landscapes. With 20 percent of the Earth's vegetated surface showing a decline in productivity, there is a great need for FLR. Ecosystems are now being degraded at an unprecedented rate, affecting millions of people's food systems and livelihoods. By 2050, degradation and climate change could reduce crop yields between 9 to 21 percent.

Several international initiatives are raising awareness of the importance of forest and landscape restoration, including the Bonn Challenge, AFR100 in Africa and the Initiative 20x20 in Latin America. Countries have begun to formulate national strategies on FLR as part of their forest policies and as key actions to enhance the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) outlined in the Paris Agreement.

FLR initiatives require baseline information and continuous monitoring for successful implementation

National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) are developed by countries to generate reliable data and information to support forest policies and report on international commitments related to forests. Integrating FLR into NFMS is recognized as a practical and valuable way to support the implementation of FLR national strategies and to measure their progress. Since the inception of REDD+, NFMS capacities have been boosted under various initiatives and programmes, including through the UN-REDD Programme, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Yet, the FLR monitoring and NFMS responsibilities are often spread across different government entities. Integrating FLR into NFMS creates an opportunity for coordination among these entities, preventing duplication of efforts. Integration, therefore, reduces costs and increases the sustainability of the monitoring process. The result is more efficient forest monitoring and more coherent and transparent forest information.

Both short- and long-term actions are needed to fully integrate FLR monitoring into NFMS. In general, the strengthening of national capacities to implement these actions should be organized into three approaches:

  • governance for the involvement of multiple institutions, actors, and technical specialties;

  • enhancement of institutional national capacities, such as human resources, financing, and infrastructure;

  • comprehensive methodological and technical solutions to respond to multiple information needs at multiple spatial levels (international, national, sub-national or local).

16 steps for integrating FLR into NFMS

In support of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, FAO recently released “Integrating forest landscape restoration into national forest monitoring systems.” This publication offers a reference for governing entities to help ensure synergies between FLR and NFMS. Published by FAO, under the UN-REDD Programme and with financial support from the Government of Japan, this publication features a series of recommendations and good practices to facilitate FLR monitoring.

A collaborative approach is proposed with critical stakeholders to discuss new information needs, such as indicators, metrics and monitoring attributes. Integration is also approached through different technical aspects, such as improvements in operational definitions of land use and land cover categories to ensure appropriate measurement of the increase of trees in the restored area. It also offers methodologies and tools for better integration of ground-based and satellite data to create more accurate information. The publication also includes suggestions for gender balance and inclusion elements.

FLR monitoring helps countries progress towards their sustainable development and environmental goals. In addition to the extensive climate and environmental implications, this process will also improve the livelihoods of those who heavily depend on ecosystem services. Publications, such as the one noted above, increase knowledge sharing and ease monitoring and accounting of restoration efforts.

Read the full publication in English and Spanish at the following links: