Four Key Opportunities for Regulating Markets and Leveraging Investments to Promote Forest and Landscape Restoration
Brancalion, P. H. D. Lamb, E. Ceccon, D. Boucher, J. Herbohn, B. Strassburg, D. P. Edwards. 2017. Using markets to leverage investment in forest and landscape restoration in the tropics. Forest Policy and Economics 8: 103-113.
While there are many social and environmental motivations to justify investments in forest landscape restoration (FLR), the profit-making potential of these investments remains unclear. Despite the enormous potential for restoration to produce timber and non-timber forest products, as well as ecosystem services, there is not yet a consolidated market structure to incorporate FLR products and services into the economy. Leveraging investments will be essential to promote FLR, an activity that relies on extensive transformation of profit-generating land use, such as agriculture. If FLR does not result in tangible financial benefits, land use change to secondary forest may be a hard sell to stakeholders.
Our international research team explored the market opportunities to transform FLR into a financially viable entrepreneur. We conducted a literature review and combined our findings with the practical experience of authors working with FLR across the global tropics to explore the potential of markets and their interaction with policies to leverage investment for FLR. We identified four key opportunities for regulating markets to promote FLR: economic mechanisms; technological, educational or infrastructural investment; legal and enforcement mechanisms; and market-led standards and certification schemes.
Although the overarching goal was to contribute to the creation of a favorable economic environment for investments in FLR, we identified critical roles for governments to achieve this goal. First, governments will need to establish appropriate policy frameworks and institutional arrangements to leverage investments when market signals are not strong enough to initiate changes in traditional land use or farming practices. Like other new business, FLR may require an initial push from governments to reduce the risks to private investors. Second, governments may have to regulate reforestation activities when market signals become strong enough to overwhelm other land-use activities, leading to a transformed and homogenized landscape.
The PARTNERS connection
This work was developed by a working group organized in the second PARTNERS meeting, that was in charge of addressing the critical issue of exploring the opportunities to unlocking private investments in FLR. All authors are PARTNER members and worked together in the workshop and for about a year after the workshop to consolidate this work. Altogether, the PARTNERS network directly enabled the research presented in this paper.