Promoting natural regeneration in the Asia-Pacific region:
APFNet and FAO host workshop on the role of natural regeneration in restoration efforts
“We have established 291 million hectares of plantations in the last 100 years; can we reforest another 350 million hectares in the next 13 years?”
This question was posed by Professor David Lamb of Queensland University in his keynote speech at the Regional Workshop on Natural Regeneration, co-organized by FAO and APFNet in Nanning, Guangxi Province, China from 19-21 June 2017.
The workshop aimed to better understand the challenges and opportunities for natural forest regeneration in Asia-Pacific and to promote its inclusion as a major component of large-scale restoration initiatives.
Experts from 18 economies gathered to discuss ways of promoting natural regeneration in the Asia-Pacific region
Natural regeneration differs from more traditional methods of forest restoration as it involves natural successional processes instead of techniques such as the establishment of large-scale monoculture plantations.
The figure that Professor David Lamb was referring to is the Bonn Challenge’s target to restore more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands by 2030. It is one of a number of ambitious global targets and emerging national commitments such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) goal to increase forest cover in the region by at least 20 million hectares by 2020.
There is a need to ensure that these targets are met in an economical way while also conserving biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem services.
These needs are driving forestry experts to find low-cost strategies and techniques for landscape restoration. Experience with natural regeneration has shown that it significantly reduces the cost of restoration in areas that meet certain conditions.
However, despite its economic and environmental advantages, issues including lack of institutional support and incentives for local communities inhibit the widespread uptake of natural regeneration.
Monitoring plays a key role in managing forest resources, understanding successes and failures, and overcoming barriers to natural regeneration’s adoption. According to Fred Stolle of WRI, while the techniques for monitoring restoration differ from those for deforestation, the availability of free high resolution data is making it easier to look at restoration in the landscape.
Economies across the Asia-Pacific region are at different stages of development and must balance restoration efforts with the livelihood needs of their people.
The workshop emphasized that accurate monitoring and assessment is therefore key for determining which areas should be prioritized for natural regeneration while also taking livelihood considerations into account.
The second day of the workshop consisted of a field visit to the Experimental Center of Tropical Forestry (ECTF) to see the work they do on forest restoration, including transforming monoculture plantations into naturally regenerating forests
The workshop gathered over 60 experts from 18 economies to discuss the key economic and social aspects for successful natural regeneration in Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR); the enabling environment needed; and the tools required for prioritization, decision-making and monitoring to enhance the success of natural regeneration strategies. A consultation session on the Asia-Pacific Regional Strategy and Action Plan for Forest and Landscape Restoration to 2030 (APFLR) was also held.