In South Asia it is estimated that 53 million ha of forest lands require rehabilitation to help mitigate climate change, improve livelihoods, conserve biodiversity, and contribute to water and food security.
The Regional Model Forest Network for Asia (RMFN-Asia) recently obtained three-year funding from the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) to create demonstration sites for forest landscape restoration. The project is focusing on increasing the capacity of stakeholders in four Model Forests in China, Thailand, the Philippines and India to learn and apply sound forest rehabilitation techniques to help mitigate climate change.
“The RMFN-Asia will be able to use our 10+ years of experience in applying the Model Forest approach to strengthen understanding and capacity for restoration at a landscape scale,” explains Dr. Jiang Chunqian, the Regional Network Chair based at the Chinese Academy of Forestry in Beijing. “This is important because addressing the underlying drivers of forest loss involves changing the way people think about and interact with each other as well as their natural environment. That’s what Model Forests do.”
Plantation versus assisted natural regeneration approaches will be tested and results may aid policy-makers in decision making around the most effective rehabilitation and land management techniques to use. Other specific restoration strategies, such as using the spaces between trees to grow crops or selecting species for timber and non-timber values, will be explored and could lead to longer-term improvements to livelihoods for forest-dependent communities. Training, networking, study tours and knowledge sharing are a key part of the project which has received support in principle from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Asia-Pacific office, IUCN and other key international organizations.
The project directly supports the APEC goal to reforest 20 million hectares across Asia, as well as the Bonn Challenge call for the restoration of 150 million hectares globally, both by the year 2020.
For more information, visit the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation website: APFNet