IUCN and the International Model Forest Network （IMFN） presented the 'Forest Restoration and Livelihood Improvement' session at the Asia Pacific Forestry Week on November 11th, 2011.
“Better Water, Better Forests, Better Lives” represents the goals of IUCN's Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy. Wang Xiaoping, from the Beijing Forestry Society (BFS), elaborated on IUCN and BFS's collaboration on the Miyun Reservoir in Beijing and Hebei province. Miyun Reservoir is the biggest watershed in Northern China and supplies up to 80% of drinking water for Beijing's 17 million residents. From water shortages and pollution to declining forest biodiversity to the widening gap between urban and rural incomes, the Miyun Reservoir faces several challenges.
IUCN is addressing these challenges through forest landscape restoration, community development, and water conservation measures. Beijing forest cover has increased tremendously from 1.3% in 1949 to 36.7% in 2010. Both organizations have used to forest inventories, biodiversity surveys, several types of multimedia, and multi-stakeholder dialogues to accomplish their goals. Water management success in the Miyun Reservoir could be applied to hundreds of watersheds throughout China.
The Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy stretches far beyond China. Matthew Markopoulos of IUCN Asia gave presented “Multi-stakeholder Approach to Negoigating Landscape Trade-offs at Doi Mae Salong, Thailand.” In Doi Mae Salong, in northern Thailand, IUCN is restoring the landscape and helping to alleviate the severe poverty of people living in the area. The landscape of Doi Mae Salong has been degraded over the last few decades, originally through poppy cultivation, then extensive agriculture.
Forest exploitation led to floods and landslides which in turn led to the further destruction of the landscapes and thousands of homes. With the collaboration of The Royal Thai Armed Forces, intensive reforestation and watershed management projects have been implemented. IUCN Thailand represents the interests of all parties that have a stake in the region’s natural resources, from local people to international investors, and makes sure they take part in the decision-making process. IUCN staff emphasized the importance of local leaders accurately portraying the interests of their people and said that clear communication was vital to the project’s success.
C.G. Kushalappa of International Model Forests Network (IMFN) presented on Model Landscapes and Forest Landscapes Restoration. He defined a model landscape as a clearly defined geographical area with significant forest cover that incorporates a diversity of forest uses and values and represents social, environmental, cultural, and economic values. Mr. Kushalappa uses Karnataka, India as an example of an Asian model forest. Karnataka has the largest wood districts in India that produces 38% of India's coffee. The IMFN has ardently worked for the restoration of this area's sacred groves.
Steen Christensen of Mangroves for the Future (MFF), discussed coastal forest ecosystem restoration in Thailand. Mangrove Benefits range from food and fiber to regulatory roles in flooding and erosion, sentiment trapping, carbon sequestration, and climate moderation. Mangroves are essential in disaster prevention. MFF's initiative has worked to protect mangroves throughout Thailand while reducing poverty in coastal areas.
These coastal communities are highly dependent on the mangroves for their livelihoods. Coastal ecosystems are being better managed and local communities are helped in the transition to cultivation of products that do not degrade the mangroves. For example, MFF helped former fisherman cultivate Aloe Vera plants which produced a higher and more sustainable income. Integrated mangrove fish farming has been instituted in India. MFF has also given small grants to local communities in Sri Lanka. One of the main sentiments echoed throughout all of the presentations was the importance of improving the living conditions of the local people.
For more information, please contact IUCN China Senior Forest Programme Officer Ms. LIU Xueyan: firstname.lastname@example.org