Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is not a new idea. The approach builds on a number of existing rural development, conservation, and natural resource management principles and approaches, bringing them together to restore the multiple functions of degraded or deforested landscapes. It emphasizes the importance of both the quality and the quantity of tree cover, and requires that the ecological integrity be enhanced whilst the tangible benefits accrue to the local people. Although FLR seeks to build on the past, it does not aim to return forest landscapes to their original pristine forest state. Rather it is a forward-looking approach that puts in place forest-based assets that are good for both people and biodiversity.

Forest Landscape Restoration shifts the emphasis from purely re-establishing tree cover on a particular site to getting the right activities in the right place so that forest landscapes have the necessary mix of forest goods and services to address the socioeconomic interests and secure biodiversity conservation. The objective is to promote and conserve multi-functionality across the entire landscape, including agricultural land and both plantations and natural forests. For this reason, a small protected area may not be viable in isolation, but if nearby plantations are rich in species or appropriate trees are planted in adjoining agricultural lands, the biodiversity of the area may survive.

Sustainable forest restoration activities can play a significant role in meeting national commitments in relation to a range of international agreements and decisions. If they are designed appropriately, forest restoration activities could contribute to the implementation of the UNFF’s Multi Year Programme of Work (MYPOW), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, and the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD).