Capacity Building for Forest Landscape Restoration Implementation in Malawi and Sri Lanka


The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is implementing a two-year project aiming to address the current shortage of trained forest landscape restoration practitioners in Malawi and Sri Lanka. As in-country partners for the implementation of the project the Centre for Applied Systems Analysis (CASA) in Malawi and the Forest Department (FD) in Sri Lanka – both IUFRO member organisations – have been selected. This project is funded by the Audemars-Watkins Foundation. Additionally, financial contributions are provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Global Environment Facility, as well as in-kind contributions by CASA in Malawi and the Forest Department in Sri Lanka.


Objectives

  • To scale-up forest landscape restoration (FLR) in Malawi and Sri Lanka through developing a critical mass of well-trained forest landscape restoration practitioners familiar with the ecological, social, economic and political dimensions of restoring large tracts of land in their respective countries.

The main tasks of forest landscape restoration practitioners is to assist local communities and stakeholders in their consultations, joint planning and implementation of restoration activities across different land uses.


Expected Outcome

Besides trained FLR practitioners, the project will also result in actually restored landscapes as a tangible outcome from the practical FLR training programme.

The trained core group of forest landscape restoration professionals will subsequently be equipped with enhanced skills to provide long-term support and guidance to stakeholders in implementing forest landscape restoration projects. A significant multiplier effect is expected as trained trainers can then pursue local level capacity building throughout Malawi and Sri Lanka, and in the region.



Landscapes in Malawi and Sri Lanka

Malawi and Sri Lanka are comparatively small countries by their land mass and considered highly populated. Land degradation has taken place in both countries for many years resulting in widespread soil erosion and loss of significant amounts of productive top soil per hectare each year. Impacts of climate change are evident already with an expected increase in negative consequences over the next decades. In addition, ‘natural’ disasters such as landslides are causing damage to human lives and rural infrastructure, loss of soil productivity, reduced biodiversity and decline in local food supply. In Sri Lanka, in many areas human-wildlife conflicts occur because of growing populations and shrinking wildlife habitat.

With over 80% of their population living in rural areas forests and woodlands are very important to the livelihoods of the people through the provision of medicines, food, wood- and non-wood forest products - by protecting the soil, harbouring pollinators, regulating water flows and helping mitigate disasters such as landslides and flooding.


Commitments of the Governments of Malawi and Sri Lanka

Aware of the need to urgently increase efforts towards restoring forest landscapes, the Governments of Malawi and Sri Lanka have made commitments under the Bonn Challenge Global Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative to place  4.5 million hectares of degraded land in Malawi and 0.2 million hectares in Sri Lanka under active restoration by 2030.

The challenge for the local forest services and others remains how best to achieve these huge targets  of restored areas  so as to enhance benefits  to  poor rural populations, while improving biodiversity and improving resilience to climate change impacts. To date tree planting by the forest departments in Malawi and Sri Lank have focused on work with individual farm-families on a small-scale and with a few species only. Consequently, progress in scaling up of restoring land in both countries has been below expectations  There is a considerable lack of human capacity, and limited knowledge and experience in planning, implementation and monitoring of practical restoration work on the ground.

The project - through hands-on practical work with forest departments and local communities - will create trained FLR professionals, in order to speed up restoration progress throughout Malawi and Sri Lanka.


The landscape that will serve as training ground including site for demonstrating forest landscape restoration activities is Dzonzi Landscape, located in Ntcheu District in Central Region of Malawi.


Partners

CASA, a locally registered, independent and non-partisan knowledge centre will implement the project activities in partnership with the Forestry Department at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR). CASA was created in 2017 to advance evidence-based knowledge and innovativeness in a rapidly changing environment. CASA has at hand, a wide range of expertise in all specializations related to managing trees and forests and to restoring landscapes in order to enhance environmental and social benefits. This is done through promoting research excellence and piloting new technologies and innovations in sustainable land use and livelihood in order to support their scalability.

The Sri Lanka Forest Department (FD) in partnership with the Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP), which is funded by the World Bank, will implement the project in Sri Lanka.Forest Department and the Wild Life Conservation Department (DWLD) are the main two government Departments responsible of managing the natural forests in Sri Lanka. The total extent of the natural forests in Sri Lanka is approximately 1.9 million hectares. In addition, FD owns and manages over 50,000 hectares of forest plantations, where teak, eucalypts and mahoganies are the main tree species used.


Background

Forest loss and degradation worldwide signify that protecting forests is no longer sufficient. We also need to restore forests if we want them to continue to provide us with goods and services such as timber, clean water, soil stabilization, species diversity etc. Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is promoted around the globe as a way of returning trees to the landscape so that they meet both the needs of people and biodiversity. Past restoration or reforestation efforts practiced in many countries has tended to focus on a few tree species, that provide limited benefits (e.g. just timber or just soil stabilization) whereas FLR seeks to restore forests in landscapes and achieve a wider range of benefits. Forest service staff and others engaged in restoration around the world often face significant capacity gaps, particularly in FLR which requires diverse skills, such as technical aspects of tree planting, but also negotiating skills to work with local communities, and analytical skills to determine the most effective ways of restoring the health and productivity of soils, improving and maintaining floral and faunal diversity or developing green supply chains and markets.

This project addresses the current shortage of trained forest landscape restoration practitioners in Malawi and Sri Lanka who will be needed in increasing numbers, in order to guide implementation of large-scale forest landscape restoration activities. Forest landscape restoration practitioners play an important role in assisting local communities and other stakeholders in discussing, jointly deciding and implementing activities that lead to improved environmental management of the landscape. The practitioners are able to translate FLR principles into meaningful local programmes and thus help stakeholders to progress faster towards restoring degraded landscapes.

 

The Practitioners:

Staff of governmental Forest Services and Departments of Environment as well as from local NGOs.
These professionals are highly motivated to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of their rural communities, natural environment, and wildlife. Through this project the professionals will be empowered to develop their competences in restoring landscapes and coordinate the various social processes associated with it; such as influencing relevant policies, respecting traditional community institutions, establishing acceptable negotiation platforms between stakeholders etc.
 

The Training Programme:

It will be implemented as hands-on mentoring activities on-site in Malawi and Sri Lanka with local stakeholders who have expressed desire to work on improving their landscape through active restoration. This provides real-world examples of the processes, opportunities and achievements that are feasible under local socio-economic conditions in both countries.
 

The Outcome:

Besides trained FLR practitioners, the project will also result in actually restored landscapes as a tangible outcome from the practical FLR training programme.

The trained core group of forest landscape restoration professionals will subsequently be armed with enhanced skills to provide long-term support and guidance to stakeholders in implementing forest landscape restoration projects. A significant multiplier effect is expected as trained trainers can then pursue local level capacity building throughout Malawi and Sri Lanka, and in the region.