Topic 2: Forest Restoration in Practice


Halting and reversing the expansion of degraded forests is a complex and challenging task that will be played out in a wide range of human cultures and environmental settings, and with varying political interest and financial inputs. There is a broad recognition of the huge areas of forest that have been degraded by human activities and agreement that restoration is required for direct conservation benefits and to help improve peoples’ livelihoods. However, the decision to restore degraded areas with forest involves allocation of scarce resources and prioritization of land-use. Resolving trade-offs in land-use among food production, conservation, and timber production presents a challenging task. In a well-designed landscape all of these aims can be achieved, but patterns of land-ownership require both top-down and bottom-up planning to achieve restoration aims. Although much forest has been cleared to grow food, much of this clearing has been unnecessary, providing opportunities for forest restoration and plantation development. The practice of forest restoration in different parts of the world is explored in the context of three common trade-offs: (1) forest restoration OR food security?, (2) timber production OR ecosystem services?, and (3) top-down planning OR bottom-up planning?

Video Lecture

Please view the following video lecture and videos for this topic.

2.2 Lecture: Forest Restoration

2.2 Video 1: Natural Forest Restoration – Tropical Forest

2.2 Video 2: Tropical Forest Restoration – Mahogony Plantation at Mounth Makaling

Topic 2 Reflection Questions

Please answer the following self-reflection questions. After formulating your answers, you may post them online at the Knowledge Café for this course as a way to share your ideas and glean knowledge from other students’ responses.

  1. Describe the three main approaches to forest restoration and the characteristics of each method.
  2. Restoring degraded forest usually involves establishing forests for production purposes or establishing forests for conservation and ecosystem services. Describe the characteristics of forests (type, area, location, management inputs) that address each of these aims, and comment on whether they are mutually exclusive or not.
  3. In most countries landholders will need incentives to participate in forest restoration. What form might these incentives take and who will provide them?

Supplementary Readings


Gustavson, J., Cderberg, C., van Otterdijk, R., & Meybeck, A. (2011). Global Food Losses and Food Waste: Extent, causes and prevention. Rome, Italy: FAO.

Lamb, D. (2011). Regreening the bare hills: Tropical forest restoration in the Asia-Pacific region. Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New York: Springer.

Articles in Journals

McShane, T.O., et al. (2011). Hard choices: Making trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Biological Conservation, 144, 966-972.

Schmitz, C., et al. (2014). Land-use change trajectories up to 2050: Insights from a global agro-economic model comparison. Agricultural Economics, 45, 1-16.

Kinzig, A.P., et al. (2011). Paying for Ecosystem Services—Promise and Peril. Science, 334, 603-604.