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Bringing Forest and Poverty into Focus in Argentina

CHALLENGE

The Chaco Eco-region in northern Argentina includes some of the country’s poorest communities, many of which are dependent on forests for their livelihoods. The Chaco Eco-region also suffers from the highest rates of deforestation in Argentina. Between 2006 and 2011, more than 1.5 million hectares of natural forest were destroyed, with conversion to agriculture and uncontrolled (often illegal) forest exploitation causing deforestation at a rate of 1.2 percent per year. Biodiversity has also been lost, soil and water resources have been degraded, and carbon emissions have increased.

APPROACH

This activity will describe and quantify how the rural poor in the Chaco Eco-region depend on forest-derived income for their livelihoods. Evidence from other countries and contexts shows that similar populations tend to earn 25-35% of their income from the forest. However, no such analysis has been completed in Argentina. This study will seek to answer such questions as: Do forests provide opportunities for poor households to build wealth and a pathway out of poverty? Does dependence on forest resources reflect limited options available to the poor, trapping them in a vicious cycle? How have forest policies impacted deforestation? This activity will also investigate linkages between forest dependence and land tenure, market accessibility, and social inclusion. The primary groups to be surveyed include small and medium-sized forest owners and communities, mainly of indigenous and criollo origin, 70 percent of whom live below the poverty line.

This analysis will fill a critical knowledge gap. The Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) forest module will be used, and the Forest Poverty SWIFT tool will also be piloted to evaluate its utility and efficiency for data collection in the context of forests and poverty linkages.

In addition, this activity will evaluate the impact of the current Forest Fund Program in Argentina, adding new insight into the intervention’s effectiveness in preventing forest loss and land-use change, and providing direction for future improvement. Community-based maps will be produced to strengthen land management and land-tenure within indigenous and criollo communities, and support the monitoring of natural resources in adjacent forest areas.

Key outputs will include:

  • A dataset on household characteristics, incomes, and natural resource dependence in the Chaco Eco-region;

  • Knowledge products describing the results from the impact evaluation analysis, and from the geospatial and econometric analysis of forest dependence and poverty linkages;

  • Community base-maps of land use, natural resources, and land tenure in at least two communities;

  • Dissemination activities including a South-South learning and exchange event, a published report, workshops, and BBLs.

RESULTS

This activity is ongoing. Preliminary findings from the quantitative analysis shows that poor households are more likely to participate in forest-related activities than richer households. Forest income contribute on average to 30% of households’ total income. Households with older household head have higher forest absolute and relative income, and that wooden posts, charcoal, and honey significantly increase forest income, and so does having forest inside a family plot.

One of the biggest challenges with performing the impact evaluation has been working with the data provided by the Ministry of Environment, which was often incomplete and in need of extensive cleaning. The Ministry is now working with their provincial counterparts to develop a new platform to standardize how data is collected and provide more of the important details about each Forest Fund site (e.g. location and boundaries). This will significantly improve the quality of any future analyses and will also make real-time monitoring feasible.  

Additionally, after the trials drone mapping conducted, the National Parks Administration decided to buy a drone for their own use in natural resources management in a National Park located in the Chaco region, and its surroundings.

The planned presentation of the impact evaluation results to the highest-level Ministerial authorities will be very important in the process of mainstreaming the outputs of this work into related regulatory and financing mechanisms to improve the implementation of the Forest Fund.

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Last Updated : 05-22-2019

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Guidance note

Trees and forests are key to fighting climate change and poverty. So are women

According to WRI's ‘Global Forest Watch’, from 2001 to 2017, 337 million hectares of tropical tree cover was lost globally – an area the size of India.

So, we appear to be losing the battle, if not the war, against tropical deforestation, and missing a key opportunity to tackle climate change (if tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank 3rd in emissions) and reduce poverty. A key question, then, is what can forest sector investors, governments and other actors do differently to reverse these alarming trends?

One way to speed up our efforts is to proactively include the role of women in the design of forest landscape restoration and conservation efforts. It is only recently that people developing forest restoration programs have thought about their impact on women, and the risks of failure that come with ignoring women’s needs and potential contributions.

We know that men and women access, use and manage forests differently, with differing knowledge and roles in the management of forests and use of forest resources. Although there is still limited evidence of the magnitude and breadth of impacts achieved by implementing gender-responsive policies and practices in the forest sector, we are starting to see more evidence that taking into account gender differences could lead to behavioral changes that increase tree cover and improve the livelihoods of the poor.

Considering gender differences in the use of, access to, and benefits from forest landscapes has led to more fair and effective design of interventions and institutional arrangements that have maximized program results and successes in addressing deforestation in many countries. 

For example, in Brazil, supporting women’s non-timber forest product (NTFP) microenterprise groups resulted in increased incomes and empowerment, as well as a reduction in deforestation. In India and Nepal, increasing women’s participation in community forest management groups led to improved forest conservation and enhanced livelihoods. In Uganda, a gender-transformative ‘adaptive collaborative management’ approach for communities resulted in tens of thousands of trees being planted by women for the first time both on-farm and in forest reserves, improved food security, and the election of 50% women leaders in forest management groups.  In Kenya, the Green Belt Movement launched by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, with women’s empowerment at its core, has planted over 51 million trees.

The thought of designing and implementing gender-transformative landscape initiatives of any type (projects, programs, policies, capacity strengthening efforts, etc.) can be daunting for development practitioners or decision makers without experience considering gender. It doesn’t have to be.

A recently released paper from the World Bank’s Program on Forests (PROFOR) examines the types of gender inequalities that exist in forest landscapes, and the gender considerations or actions that many countries are taking to address these gaps. It reviews and synthesizes a wide range of World Bank and partner projects and forest sector investments in different regions.

The PROFOR paper aims to stimulate greater understanding of potential opportunities by providing suggestions for gender-responsive actions that developers and leaders of forest projects, programs and policies can consider. Depending on which forest actor you are, applying and tailoring these suggestions to your context specific circumstances can ensure more effective and equitable impacts:

  • A developer or investor in forest landscape projects can consider establishing performance-based contracts with joint spousal signatures for planting and protecting trees on farms, as well as near and inside forests, or including budget line items for gender-targeted NTFP activities.
  • Governments, particularly forest-related agencies, can train forest personnel in the collection of sex-disaggregated data and inclusive, participatory engagement and forest landscape management planning processes, or facilitating registration for forest-related programs in easily accessible spaces where women already go (e.g. schools, health care centers).
  • Investors, development agencies and private sector actors can find ways in which to make direct payments to women (e.g. via cellphone) for forest restoration and agroforestry activities or supporting rural women’s leadership capacity and strengthening activities.

PROFOR’s paper, along with a guidance note for project designers, provide many more examples of how gender analysis and actions can contribute in forest landscapes and of how this research is already being applied on the ground. For example, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) includes several countries that are using this tool to design REDD+ readiness and large-scale programs that ensure women are partners in the planning, operation, and deployment of climate finance.

The bottom line is that greater investment in forest landscapes and agroforestry will be critical in efforts to address climate change and rural poverty challenges in many countries. The success of these investments will be enhanced by considering gender-responsive activities and actions when designing and implementing forest landscape projects and programs.

This blog by Patti Kristjanson was originally published by The World Bank 

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Last Updated : 04-15-2019

Food and forests: We can have them both

Agriculture provides most of the world’s food. It also contributes the most to global deforestation. This does not mean, however, that we need to choose between feeding a rapidly growing population and protecting the forests that are so essential to our wellbeing.

While many countries have first depleted their forests before seeing a rebound in tree cover, this “business-as-usual” scenario is not inevitable. But changing it does require a paradigm shift. In part, it means redefining what “successful” pathways to sustainable development look like, so that they resonate with local leaders and reflect local realities – and thus gain political support. In addition, transitioning away from the status quo depends on forming new and creative partnerships between companies, communities, governments, and investors.

How to bring about this new food-and-forest paradigm? An ongoing study - funded by the Program on Forests (PROFOR) and led by the World Bank's Agriculture and Environment Global Practices along with experts from many agricultural and environmental organizations - is trying to find concrete answers. The team is focusing on six agricultural commodities: three that are heavily implicated in deforestation activities (palm oil, soy and beef), and three that could include planting trees in their cultivation (cocoa, coffee and shea butter). In an initial synthesis study, the researchers draw out some key lessons for removing deforestation from agricultural supply chains sooner rather than later, and for increasing the planting of trees in agricultural lands. Here are just six of their takeaways:       

  1. Success starts with the farmer. There are many agricultural practices which, if implemented at scale, can benefit crop yields while slowing deforestation or increasing tree cover. Not only must farmers be fully equipped with this information, but they should be consulted and supported in making the transition to sustainable production systems.

  2. It is important to recognize and reward innovators. A system based entirely on punishing those who contribute to deforestation is unlikely to be effective in the long run. A more promising approach is to reward farmers who use creative, forest-friendly practices, while widely promoting the monetary and ecosystem benefits of these methods.    

  3. Corporations’ sustainability pledges are important but not sufficient. A new and promising trend is the emergence of technical, commercial, and financial partnerships between companies, farmers, communities, and regional authorities.   

  4. Government policies and programs need to be updated. In many cases, existing regulations prevent farmers from harvesting and marketing trees, deterring them from planting trees in agricultural landscapes. Ministries of agriculture and of environment need to work together to revise these legal frameworks so that farmers can sustainably grow and harvest trees on their lands.

  5. Regional action is critical. Efforts to combat deforestation in the agricultural sector sometimes fail because supply chains transcend national boundaries. Large-scale transformation is possible, but it needs to be backed-up by multi-stakeholder processes that lay out a shared vision for a region.

  6. The costs of forest loss need to be communicated more clearly. Forest conservation is often viewed through the lens of foregone agricultural profits. Governments should do a better job of communicating why forests are so crucial. For instance, improved management of shea trees in Sahelian countries could strengthen economic returns and ecological stability, with possible knock-on benefits like sustained income generation, jobs for women and youth, and lower incidence of conflict and migration induced by poor access to natural resources.

Initial findings from the synthesis study, “Leveraging agricultural value chains to enhance tropical tree cover and slow deforestation (LEAVES),” will be shared at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF): The Investment Case in Washington, D.C. on May 30th. Its authors hope to start building momentum for their new approach to productive and sustainable agriculture.  

“Although the private sector has been the main driver behind sustainability initiatives like Brazil’s Soy Moratorium and Cattle Agreement, support from the World Bank was instrumental,” said Dora Nsuwa Cudjoe, Senior Environmental Specialist, and Co-Task Team Leader of the LEAVES knowledge product at the World Bank. “The Bank can show the same level of engagement in the agroforestry commodities like coffee, cocoa, and shea, to help scale up private sector efforts. The opportunity is here.”

Photo: Josephhunwick.com

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Last Updated : 08-21-2018

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Five reasons to celebrate forests

Trees may not seem like anything exceptional, but they perform a myriad of services that we rarely recognize. From making cities cleaner and cooler, to providing economic lifelines to millions of people, trees and forests are central to our environment as we know it.

Unfortunately, global forest loss is at an all-time high, and unless we act soon, we risk unprecedented (and possibly irreversible) ecological changes.  

It’s time to stop taking forests for granted. On this International Day of Forests, take a minute to enjoy the trees in your environment and to appreciate just how important forests are around the world. Here are five reasons to celebrate forests:   

1.      Higher incomes, more resilient communities

Across the world, trees and forests provide benefits to around 1.3 billion people, including as a source of food, timber, fodder, fuel, and habitat for biodiversity. A PROFOR study in five African countries found that trees on farms make up as much as 17 percent of rural households’ gross annual income. And in Lao PDR, research shows that villages with greater access to forests are less sensitive to climate change because they can to turn to forests for resources during hard times. Ongoing PROFOR work is exploring the ways in which forests might also provide pathways out of poverty.

2.      More jobs

Global demand for wood is growing rapidly. By investing in the forest sector, countries can create good jobs, support local artisanship, and formalize timber markets so that wood is sustainably harvested, and natural forests are protected. In Colombia, a PROFOR-supported study estimated that the forestry sector could reach a production value of over $4 billion and create 35,000 permanent jobs in forest plantations and industries. Another study in the Congo Basin found that urban timber markets already generate USD $15 million annually and employ at least 5,000 people.    

3.      More productive and cost-effective agriculture

Far from crowding out crops, trees can often improve agricultural yields by improving soil quality and regular water availability. PROFOR research in Malawi found that, instead of subsidizing fertilizer, the government could save about $71 million every year by encouraging farmers to grow trees in their maize fields. And agroforestry is not just an option for small farms; private enterprises like Fazenda da Toca in São Paulo are proving that large-scale agroforestry is viable and cost-effective.

4.      Lower risk of natural disasters

Forests are a critical regulating force for our environment. A PROFOR study in the Philippines showed that higher forest cover ensures a more reliable water supply during the driest months of the years, while reducing the volume of floodwater during the wettest months. Forests also stabilize hillsides by decreasing the risk of soil erosion, helping to reduce the impacts of landslides and other natural disasters. Compared to man-made structures like dams and, maintaining forests is a much more cost-effective way to provide these benefits.

5.      A more stable climate

Not only do trees help to cool our immediate surroundings, but by storing carbon they reduce the impacts of climate change. Unless, of course, we fail to protect them. An ongoing PROFOR activity finds that the southern Amazon Forest is under such stress from droughts and fires that it might soon become a net emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2). The good news is that it’s not too late to start restoring a billion hectares of degraded forests worldwide. A recent report, funded by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and PROFOR, estimates that investing in forest restoration and increased use of wood products in six countries could result in more than 150 million tons of CO2 equivalent being sequestered.

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Last Updated : 08-21-2018

In the Philippines, forest investments offer significant returns

It’s well understood that forests are worth more than the sum of their trees. As an ecosystem, forests provide an astonishing array of benefits, from the more obvious ones like timber, fruits and nuts, to the intangible ones like maintaining reliable flows of clean water. But how much are these benefits actually worth? And are forests really so much better at providing these services than, say, human-engineered technology?

According to a new study in the Philippines, reforestation and forest rehabilitation may truly be the most cost-effective option for producing valuable ecosystem services that many people depend on – especially given the uncertainties brought on by climate change.

With funding from the Program on Forests (PROFOR) and technical support from the World Bank, the Government of the Philippines studied three different areas to assess the value of certain “invisible” forest-derived benefits. The research found that healthy forests help reduce risks to climate variability by providing high-quality ecosystem services that contribute to more resilient communities.

For instance, the study showed that in the Upper Marikina River Basin – a degraded watershed upstream from Manila, where most inhabitants live below the poverty line - higher forest cover results in 149 to 167 percent higher water yields during the driest months of the year, ensuring a more reliable water supply during times of scarcity. Meanwhile, during the wettest months, forests can reduce the volume of floodwater in the watershed by 27 to 47 percent. Forests also stabilize hillsides and mountainsides in the region by decreasing the risk of soil erosion by 68 to 99 percent per hectare – helping reduce the impacts of natural hazards like flooding and landslides.

“These services are worth billions of pesos,” emphasized Eugene Soyosa, Economist at the Philippines Forest Management Bureau. “Maintaining forests has a much lower cost than if you would build check dams or other erosion control measures.”

Crucially from a sustainable development perspective, forest ecosystem services are integral to the well-being of poor communities in the Philippines. According to the findings at one pilot site, people obtain about 7 percent of their annual cash income from selling forest resources like bamboo, charcoal, fish, and bush meat.

“Poor households are very dependent on forests, especially for water provisioning services” said Maurice Andres Rawlins, Natural Resource Management Specialist at the World Bank and a lead author of the study. “If these services were lost and people had to pay for them, it could certainly set back poverty reduction gains.”

“In the pilot site of Upper Marikina, forests have been degraded for charcoal-making and the water supply is decreasing; at other sites, the siltation is very pronounced,” explained Soyosa. “When we first talked to communities, they perceive the idea of ecosystem services as too technical. But as the conversation moves on, it turns out that they know a lot about these benefits, and are being heavily impacted by the loss.”

Forest ecosystem services become more important as the impacts of climate change intensify. The Philippines - being an archipelagic country that is naturally vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes and storm surges– also ranks among the top 5 countries most affected by climate change. According to projections, all areas of the Philippines will get warmer, contributing to more frequent extreme weather events. Dry seasons will become drier, and wet seasons wetter. This study confirms that forests provide services that make communities more resilient to climate change shocks, including acting as a safety net against poverty.   

The Government of the Philippines is already trying to reverse trends of severe deforestation and forest degradation across the country, and has been working on the valuation of ecosystem services with help from the World Bank-led Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Global Partnership. This work is motivated by the recognition that documenting economic values of forest resources can help make forest investments more attractive, and thus improve the livelihoods of poor upland communities.

“The Philippines is committed to regreening,” said Rawlins. “They don’t want to just plant forests where there are none, but to undertake more strategic thinking about which areas to prioritize, and what kind of trees to plant. That’s where measuring specific ecosystem services results is so important. The question now is, ‘How do we mainstream these processes into planning?’ The ability of the government to include this work in their regular processes is the true sign of success.”

Findings of the study are intended to guide the Philippines’ National Greening Program by including forest ecosystem services into land use planning processes. Results have also shaped the indicators in the country’s Forest Investment Road Map (FIRM), which is the government’s strategy for accelerating sustainable economic growth in the wood industry through private sector investment.  The FIRM, in turn, is consistent with the Philippines Master Plan for Climate Change-Resilient Forestry Development, which aims to promote the development of forest plantations and increase the participation of the private sector, local government units, and organized upland communities.

“In the Philippines we have not yet established a national database on forest ecosystem services in terms of inputs into policies and programs,” said Larlyn Faith Aggabao, Senior Forest Management Specialist at the Forest Management Bureau. “This study is a useful start to institutionalizing and formulating a coordinated effort among different agencies for data collection, data sharing, and analysis. This information would provide significant inputs to forestry plans because there are trade-offs to any policy, and these need to be managed.”

(Photo credit: Gordon Bernard Ramos Ignacio)

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Last Updated : 05-31-2018

Enhancing Capacity for Livelihoods Development in the Tonlé Sap and Cardamom Mountains Landscape in Cambodia

CHALLENGE

Over the last two decades, Cambodia achieved remarkable economic growth and graduated from a low- to a lower middle-income country. This growth has largely been driven by the country’s rich and diverse natural capital, which supports the livelihoods of millions of Cambodians but is rapidly being degraded from unsustainable use. For instance, agriculture - which is heavily dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services - contributed to 30 percent of GDP in 2015, and the livelihoods of more than five million people. However, according to official estimates, forest cover declined by 21 percent between 2006 and 2014, mainly due to the conversion of forests to agriculture or rubber plantations within economic land concessions.

To counter the rapid decline in forest area, the Royal Government of Cambodia has adopted several policies, strategies and plans to encourage improved forest use and protection. While these changes are positive, many institutional, information and investment challenges remain. In particular, more comprehensive cost-benefit analyses are needed to assess potential investments in sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem services. In addition, implementation of an integrated landscapes approach to forest programming requires strengthening institutional capacities at the national and subnational levels, as well as improving information and decision-support systems.

APPROACH

The key components of this activity will be:

  1. The development a national forest monitoring system. Efforts will be made to coordinate with complementary efforts by other development partners and NGOs, to bring together maps and data on forestry, land use, biodiversity, ecosystems, water resources, and soil conditions, to effectively inform decision-making at the local levels. Spatial mapping platforms and GIS resources will be used to compile an interface for informing suitable and sustainable livelihoods and projecting impacts from climate change and economic development. 
  2. Carrying out an institutional development needs assessment, at the national and sub-national levels. It will include the identification of implementation needs for operationalizing the government’s new “corridors approach” for the integrated management of forest landscapes, as well as for anticipated reforms to the environmental code and the framework on the co-management of forests and natural resources.
  3. Undertake an options assessment of investments in sustainable livelihoods and natural assets. This will help determine the various livelihoods options that could be implemented to build community resilience, protect natural resource assets, and promote a sustained and green growth pathway in the Tonle Sap watersheds and Cardamom Mountains landscapes. The PROFOR Forest Poverty Toolkit will be applied, building additional layers of detail specific to Cambodia, including through by using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Based on these findings, policy recommendations will be generated on the way forward for landscape-level planning, programming, and investment typologies.

RESULTS

Knowledge from this activity, specifically the ecosystem’s assessment and ecotourism analysis, has provided inputs to the Cambodia Sustainable Landscape and Ecotourism project influencing the identification of priority areas for restoration, and sites for ecotourism development. The use of the information to inform investments reflects the government’s understanding of the use and value of such information, and their push for decision-making on natural resources management that is underpinned by science and analytics.

This activity is ongoing. More findings will be shared on this page when they become available.

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Last Updated : 05-05-2019

Kenya Tourism and Sustainability

CHALLENGE

Nature-based tourism makes a significant contribution to exports, GDP, jobs, and poverty reduction in Kenya.  But habitat loss, overcrowding at key tourist sites, depleting wildlife numbers, and the ever-present threat of terrorism have generated a perfect storm of problems for the sector.  

Recent population monitoring shows that long-term declines of many of the charismatic species that attract tourists – including lions, elephants, giraffes, and impalas - are occurring at the same rates within the country's national parks as outside of these protected areas.  This is partly because protected areas in Kenya are far too small to be sustainable.  As a result, the wildlife depends as much on land adjacent to a protect area as on the protected area itself. Unfortunately, most of this adjacent land is being converted to other non-compatible uses. The implementation of “ecological easements” offer some promising solutions, but the feasibility of this approach depends upon economic incentives, and the opportunity costs of land.

APPROACH

This activity will focus on a critical and often overlooked threat to the survival of the key wildlife tourist attraction: habitat loss and the need to preserve corridors to assure the long-term sustainability of wildlife and mega-fauna. 
First, the activity will investigate land related trade-offs.  Is there more to be gained from building a tourism product or converting land to agriculture - in terms of GDP, jobs, and poverty impacts? Second, it will conduct a regional analysis in the Mara region to determine the scope for increasing the payoffs from tourism without undermining sustainability.  The Mara has been chosen due to the pressures on this globally significant natural asset and its tremendous potential to generate further conservation-related economic benefits. Finally, the study will also identify the benefits and ecological costs of infrastructure throughout Kenya and thus assist in the planning of corridors and preemptive protection of habitats.

RESULTS

This activity ended in June 2018. 

Preliminary findings show that long-term declines of many of the charismatic species that attract tourists – lions, elephants, giraffe, impala and other animals - are occurring at the same rates within the country's national parks as outside of these protected areas.  As a result, wildlife depends as much on land adjacent to the protected areas as it does on the protected areas for continued viability.  Expanding tourism to these areas remains among the most successful approaches that have been piloted – under the concept of “ecological easements”.  But the feasibility of this approach depends upon economic incentives, and the opportunity costs of land.  

An economic (CGE) model to investigate returns to tourism vis-à-vis other activities was developed. It examined the feasibility of preventing further land conversions with a particular focus on the Mara region, where pressures are high and losses of tourism revenue would have potentially significant macroeconomic consequences. This approach estimated the economic benefits of infrastructure such as roads, then estimated the damage caused by the roads through habitat clearing - allowing for more accurate and economically meaningful comparisons of alternatives.

The interim results of this work were shared at a workshop in Nairobi attended by many stakeholders that included: government officials, the private sector, faculty from leading global research universities, bilateral donors and the wider conservation community.  A report on the findings and recommendations is being finalised.

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Last Updated : 05-22-2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration

Ecological restoration, critical for poverty reduction

By Joaquim Levy, World Bank Group Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer

Why is ecological restoration so critical to the World Bank’s mission of reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity? Quite simply, because environmental degradation is devastating to the most vulnerable communities and perpetuates poverty around the world.

Some 42 percent of the world’s poorest live on land that is classified as degraded. The situation becomes worse every year, as 24 billion tons of fertile soil are eroded, and drought threatens to turn 12 million hectares of land into desert.

The costs associated with environmental degradation can be compared to the impacts of a natural disaster. In Indonesia, for example, a few months of peat fires created more economic damage than the Tsunami in Aceh.

Thankfully, there is still time to reverse this type of harm. Worldwide, about two billion hectares of degraded forest land could be restored, creating functional, productive ecosystems that can boost sustainable development. Governments and other stakeholders are motivated to make this happen – nothing was clearer from my participation in the 7th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, last week in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. 

So how do we take the next step and make large-scale environmental restoration a reality? We need to keep a few key principles in mind:

First, we need to think of a new forest economy. Environmental restoration at the scale we need requires going beyond conservation. It means integrating timber and food production, as well as energy and disaster risk management, particularly when it comes to water resources. We need to look at countries like Austria, Germany and South Korea, which have built entire rural economies on high-tech forest value chains that are not only highly productive, but also ecologically meaningful. The World Bank has supported this approach in several places, including China, where an erosion control project returned the devastated Loess Plateau to a thriving landscape that supports sustainable agriculture and the livelihoods of 2.5 million people.

Second, we need to find efficient, low-cost restoration solutions that can be brought to scale. This means investing in rigorously tested scientific methods, because we cannot afford to make large-scale mistakes. It also requires customized solutions capable of meeting the various restoration challenges, from evaluating whether native species are always the best choice, to considering a range of time horizons. Brazil’s commercial restoration sector is a leader in this field, with cooperative, inter-company research contributing to the success of the commercial plantation sector.

Third, we need to ensure legal rights for forests. There can be no thriving forest economy without sound tenure rights, including for Indigenous and traditional peoples. Some countries are making progress on this front. In Nicaragua, for instance, all ancestral territories of Indigenous Peoples in the Caribbean Region are now mapped and titled thanks to legal, policy, and institutional reforms that began 15 years ago, with World Bank support.

Fourth, we need to better understand the value of our forest services. Adopting natural wealth accounting that values assets such as land, forests, and minerals as a companion to GDP would help state the economic cost of degradation and the benefits of restoration. Armed with such information, Ministers of Finance may become restoration champions, and governments would have the tools to develop a forest-smart approach that works across economic sectors and at the right scale. Consider the case of Costa Rica: by establishing forest accounts, the government documented that forests contributed close to 10 times more to GDP than was previously thought.

The last missing link is financing. We need to consider all levels of financing, starting with small and medium-sized enterprises. Forest development and integrated agriculture need to be made attractive to entrepreneurs, including women and the young.

In addition, tax and transfer systems must recognize the importance of environmental services. Providing strong governance and guidance on the use of environment compensation fees, such as Brazil’s “compensaçao ambiental,” ought to be a priority. Local solutions need to be discussed everywhere, along with international incentive systems.

Finally, when adequately-funded and accountable research starts to generate the right technology, sizeable financial resources will flow to restoration.

To recap: ecosystem restoration is critical for sustainable development and poverty alleviation; there are significant opportunities for putting these approaches into practice; and we have a solid understanding of the core principles that contribute to successful restoration efforts.

At the World Bank Group, we stand ready to support countries’ restoration efforts through our financing tools and partnership programs like the Program on Forests (PROFOR). Together, our efforts can have a transformative impact on improving the lives of the poorest and benefitting the environment.

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Last Updated : 01-11-2018

Sustainable landscape management for improved livelihoods in the Middle East and North Africa

Program Summary

This PROFOR activity aims to build the necessary evidence base and rationale for developing a regional and harmonized program on landscape restoration and sustainable management in the arid, semi-arid, and desert areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, and the Mashreq.

Challenge

In MENA and sub-Saharan African countries, there is a growing awareness of the important social, economic and environmental roles played by forests, rangelands, and oasis landscapes. All of these ecosystems face threats from agricultural expansion and increasing demand for food, fiber, fuel, and minerals, as well as misguided agricultural policies.

There is also growing evidence of significant negative externalities from landscape degradation - including the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, soil erosion, rural poverty, and migration. These issues are gaining political attention at the global, regional, and national levels, but while several initiatives have been launched to combat landscape degradation and strengthen resilience to climate change, more transformative investment is needed.

Approach

This activity will first review existing literature on the extent, impact, and economic costs of land degradation and desertification over the last couple of decades in MENA and Sub-Saharan African countries.

Subsequently, the team will assess progress made by national and regional restoration programs, and identify the primary barriers to furthering that progress using PROFOR’s PRIME framework. Other land restoration programs will be evaluated for lessons learned and applicability to the targeted regions, including experiences from China (e.g. the Green Wall Initiative) and the United States (e.g. actions taken to combat the Dust Bowl phenomenon).

Based on this analysis, this activity will explore how the World Bank can best leverage its convening power to bring together (and finance) restoration initiatives. An economic feasibility study will be carried out, looking at the potential for a regional program on landscape restoration and sustainable management.

Results

A draft report reviewing existing literature on the extent of land degradation and desertification over the last couple of decades in the MENA and the neighbouring Sahelian and dryland countries in Africa was completed.

The analysis found that the MENA region experienced a 40 percent decrease in vegetation over the past two decades, with some countries experiencing a very significant decline.  Ecosystem service losses from land degradation are about four times the global average, about 5,600 USD per person or about 300,000 USD per sq km in MENA and agricultural yield losses account for approximately 0.95 percent of GDP in MENA. The drivers of degradation are mainly poor land management but also climatic conditions to which farmers must adapt. Using the PRIME framework as a base tool, the review will continue to identify constraints to better land management and identify best practices that can be replicated elsewhere.

A household survey for the Integrated-Landscape Management project in Tunisia is ongoing. It will act as a baseline ground-truthing effort to add evidence of what is working among beneficiaries and how this is affecting their livelihoods.  It may also help guide any adjustments to be made on targeting beneficiaries, and in particular the strengthening of value chains, and participation of women. These lessons will be distilled and shared in workshops and with policymakers from other MENA countries who are considering similar land restoration programs.

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Last Updated : 05-04-2019

New tool to deliver swifter, better data on forests-poverty linkages

Q: What's better than having accurate, detailed and widely representative data?

A: Data that is accurate, detailed, widely representative - and frequent.

In fact, frequent data allows us to create not just a snapshot of our world, but to tease out complex patterns developing over time, and to make predictions into the future. This kind of information has never been more important for forests, which are at the heart of many sustainable development efforts, from the Paris Climate Agreement to the Sustainable Development Goals.

We know that forest resources are crucial to some 1.3 billion people worldwide, and that forests store over a billion tons of carbon. But we also know that climate change, demographics, migration, economic trends, and many other factors have significant impacts on forests and the people who, directly or indirectly, rely on them.

Consequently, building an in-depth understanding of how poor communities depend on forest resources is critical to developing policies and programs that simultaneously enhance those benefits and conserve habitats. To go about this, the World Bank’s multi-donor Program on Forests (PROFOR) previously partnered with a number of organizations to produce a “Forestry Sourcebook,” a survey tool aimed at collecting detailed level data about how people use forest resources.

The one challenge of the sourcebook approach, however, is that its implementation relies on the rollout of national-level household surveys – a necessarily complex and costly undertaking that occurs every three years as part of the Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS). So in order to complement the information gathered through the sourcebook's forestry module, PROFOR is also funding the development of a quicker, cheaper tool: the Forest Survey of Wellbeing via Instant and Frequent Tracking (Forest-SWIFT). It combines statistical methods with in-person interviews to provide robust measures of forest dependence and poverty, and uses tablets or smart phones so that data can then be rapidly collated and analyzed.

“Compared to the LSMS, Forest-SWIFT can be carried out in less time in the field and at a fraction of the cost, since the questionnaire can be done in less than 30 minutes,” explained Emilie Perge, a World Bank Economist leading the project. “The ultimate outcome of the Forest-SWIFT is to inform how forest projects are implemented, how to target beneficiaries, and how to monitor outcomes.”

So far, the Forest-SWIFT methodology has been piloted in Turkey, where Perge worked with Senior Environmental Economist Craig Meisner to model poverty and forest reliance. Some 7 million people – 40 percent of the rural population - live in Turkey's forest villages, and while they depend heavily on forests for income, they also suffer from below-average poverty rates. 

“Forest villagers are declining in numbers due to large-scale urbanization in Turkey,” Meisner said. “We undertook a nationally representative survey of forest villages and found that forestry is a critical source of income for the poorest households, but is still a low-productivity activity. The results highlight the potential of forest cooperatives as a helpful tool for stemming migration, as well as the need to boost productivity and jobs in the forestry sector.”

Findings from the Turkey activity have been aggregated into a Forest Policy Note for Turkey's national forestry agency, and will be used to revise the country's new five-year forest strategy.

There are also plans to implement the Forest-SWIFT in Argentina, as part of an activity led by Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist Peter Jipp. The activity will focus on the Chaco Eco-region, where poverty and deforestation rates are among the highest in the country. With 1.5 million hectares of forested land being converted to agriculture between 2006 and 2011, communities are losing valuable ecosystem services and sources of income.

“Evidence from other countries suggests that the poor rely on forests for 25-35 percent of their income, but there are no such statistics for Argentina,” said Jipp. “This study will help fill that knowledge gap. Communities of indigenous and criollo origin will be a particular focus, as 70 percent of them live below the poverty line. The Forest-SWIFT will also support an impact evaluation of Argentina's Forest Fund, to assess how successful it was in preventing forest loss and land-use change.”

In addition, there is the possibility of applying the tool to forest and poverty data from Mozambique, and hopefully to other interested countries as well.

“There are so many cash and non-cash benefits that poor communities get from forests,” noted Werner Kornexl, Senior Environmental Specialist and PROFOR Manager. “This data can help us understand the real value of forests and improve policies to support poverty reduction efforts while also find new solutions for a more prosperous forest-based industry.”

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Last Updated : 05-31-2018

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