by Douglas McGuire, Christophe Besacier, and Cesar Sabogal

More than 2 billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes have potential for Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR). Deforestation and landscape degradation are worldwide problems. Continued landscape degradation poses serious obstacles to eliminating poverty and hunger, maintaining biodiversity, and to the ability of farmers and local communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Land degradation increases competition for scarce natural resources, threatening livelihoods, well-being, food, water and energy security and the resilience capacity of socio-ecological systems.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) established the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism (FLR Mechanism) during the 22nd Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) in June 2014 to support fulfilling the needs of both people and the environment in a sustainable manner. The objective of the FLR Mechanism is improved resilience, productivity and socio-economic value from restored forests and landscapes benefiting human well-being, local livelihoods and the environment. It aims to seek a balance between restoring ecosystem services (e.g. biodiversity, soil and water conservation) and productive functions of land for agriculture and related uses that provide food, energy and other products and services for sustainable livelihoods.

The FLR Mechanism aims to support countries in the planning and implementation of Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) as a contribution to achieving the Bonn Challenge – the restoration of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020 – and the CBD Aichi Biodiversity Targets related to ecosystem conservation and restoration.

The FLR Mechanism supports the preparation and the implementation of national FLR Action Plans in each selected country in accordance with national laws, regulations and policy framework as well as other relevant initiatives/programmes. To scale-up the FLR efforts within countries and from country to regional and global level, as well as to ensure sustainability of FLR efforts, the FLR Mechanism operates to promote networking and support partnerships on FLR, striving for increased intersectoral collaboration.

The FLR Mechanism also explores investment opportunities and greater involvement of the private sector to develop appropriate value chains linked to forest and landscape restoration opportunities. In order to achieve successful restoration efforts and outcomes, the FLR Mechanism works in full collaboration with the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), other key partners and participating countries and contributes to national and international commitments and processes, especially those related to multilateral environmental agreements such as UNCCD, UNCBD, and UNFCCC. The Mechanism aims to scale-up, monitor and report on FLR activities to a level needed to meet the Bonn Challenge and Aichi Biodiversity targets, particularly Aichi Biodiversity Target 15. Toward this goal, the Mechanism coordinates and facilitates the development and implementation of projects, programmes and related activities in FAO member countries, in full collaboration with other key actors.

At the country level, the FLR Mechanism is currently coordinating the implementation of national work plans for the period 2015-2018 in several countries such as: Cambodia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda and Uganda. It is also contributing to the preparation of project proposals to support large-scale restoration initiatives with different donors/partners in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Niger, Pakistan and Sao Tome and Principe. New project proposals, involving new countries, will be prepared in 2016/2017.

At the regional level, the FLR Mechanism is involved in several regional dynamics such as the Initiative 20×20 in Latin America led by WRI, the African Restoration Initiative 100 (AFR 100) led by NEPAD, a regional strategy and action plan on Forest and Landscape Restoration in the Asia-Pacific region led by the FAO regional office in Bangkok and the implementation of regional restoration efforts in cooperation with the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions-Silva Mediterranea led by FAO.

For more information on the FLR Mechanism please visit the website:

Photo credit: ©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri / FAO

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