Forests and Landscape Restoration – A Key Component

In many parts of the world, people have started to restore degraded forests and landscapes, creating many new opportunities to reduce poverty, improve food security, address climate change and conserve soil, water and biodiversity. The growing awareness of the importance of forest and landscape restoration can be attributed to several international processes, including the UNFCCC, Bonn Challenge which set a target of restoring at least 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020 and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets which calls for countries to restore at least 15 percent of their degraded ecosystems by 2020.

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) refers to a process that aims to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well being in deforested or degraded forest landscapes by restoring the function and productivity of degraded forest lands. FLR relies on active stakeholder engagement and can accommodate different land uses, including agriculture, agroforestry, protected wildlife reserves, regenerated forests, managed plantations, and riverside plantings.

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) has been identified as a key area of focus if the forestry sector is to support the realization of national goals and ambitions reflected in several legislations, policies, economic blue prints and strategies.

To ensure effectiveness and harmonization of on-going and future restoration initiatives in the country, the government through Kenya Forest Service is coordinating a multi-stakeholder project on “National Landscape Restoration Mapping” in collaboration with the World Resource Institute, Clinton Climate Initiative and the Green Belt Movement.

Further to this, the landscape restoration will be an important tool in helping the country meet its economic, development and environmental goals. To ensure these initiatives are linked and coordinated, Kenya Forest Service has established a Landscape Restoration Technical Working Group, with its members drawn from multiple sectors. The working group has so far made tremendous progress on analyzing landscape restoration options for the country. The options identified include reforestation and rehabilitation of natural forests, farm forestry and woodlots on cropland, commercial tree and bamboo plantations, tree- based buffers along waterways, wetlands and roads, as well as silvo-pastoral and rangeland restoration. This restoration options have the potential to restore ecosystems services associated with trees, such as erosion control, regulation of water flows, soil quality and forest habitat.

In addition the Technical Working Group has produced maps and associated area statistics as proposed priority restoration areas. These maps will help in identifying opportunities to scale up restoration efforts to reduce erosion, increase livelihood diversification, fodder production, as well as present potential areas for commercial plantations among others.

This project is coordinated under the overall guidance of the National REDD+ Coordination Office.