Forest landscape restoration - What generates failure and success?
Research Highlights: The global Forest Landscape Restoration ambitions could be impaired by projects that ignore key principles such as the engagement of local communities in decision making and implementation, equitable benefit sharing, and monitoring for adaptive management. This entails the danger of continued degradation, disappointed local stakeholders, and ultimately, project failure. Other projects face technical problems related to tree establishment and nursery production. Background and Objectives: There are high hopes for Forest and Landscape Restoration to regain ecosystem integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested and degraded areas. We highlight various problems and success factors experienced during project implementation on a global scale. Materials and Methods: We use data from a global online survey to identify common obstacles and success factors for the implementation of forest restoration. Results: While the majority of respondents reported successful projects, others indicate drastic problems and failed projects. Major obstacles to forest restoration experienced by survey respondents were a lack of local stakeholder involvement and a mismatch between goals of local communities and restoration managers, as well as environmental, anthropogenic, and technical barriers to tree regeneration. Conclusions: When local communities, their goals, and needs are disregarded in project planning and implementation, as reported from various cases in our survey and the limited available literature, there is a risk of project failure. Failed projects and disappointed stakeholders, as well as discouraged funders and policy-makers, could lessen the momentum of global forest restoration ambitions. Adhering to key principles of Forest and Landscape Restoration can promote much-needed community support, with the potential to overcome barriers to forest regeneration and enable communities for the protection, management, and monitoring of the restored forests beyond the limited project and funding periods. Research is needed to gain a better understanding of the perception of local communities towards restoration activities. Further studies on the implementation of forest restoration at the intersection of environmental factors, socioeconomic conditions, forest regeneration/silviculture, and nursery production are needed.