Local Decision-Making | Planting Trees

Participatory Restoration Planning and Matching Community Organization with Restoration Units’ Size are Key Strategies to Achieve Restoration Success

Nestor Gregorio and John Herbohn. Implementing the National Greening Program in the Philippines: lessons learned. Current Conservation



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Since the early 1990s, several community-based reforestation projects were implemented in the Philippines, including a National Greening Programme that aims to rehabilitate 8.6 million hectares by 2028. These projects involved community members working on government lands on a 25 years’ land grant with the objective of restoring forest cover and sustainably managing resources. However, these projects failed to meet objectives involving poverty alleviation and sustainable management of forest, leading to abandonment of the projects after the end of the funding. As a consequence, the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in the Philippines started a project in Biliran Province in 2014 with the objective of finding and addressing the issues that were preventing reforestation projects long-term success.

The project design had a holistic view that included the complex interactions between the stake-holders during all the stages. Using this approach, the project identified several main blocks to project success, including the absence of livelihoods, poor seedling quality, lack of social preparation, land tenure uncertainty, and corruption. The strategies to overcome these factors were community trainings on capacity building, activities that promoted the use of innovative technologies, community organization and gender equality and identification of mother trees from the natural trees to improve the germplasm quality. Also, local policies were implemented to promote sharing the responsibilities and benefits among community members, while switching to an individual management of the areas based on farmer’s preferences and driven by the market.

These changes increased the participation of the community members, with monetary benefits as one of the main drivers of this success. The increased seedling survival and quality promoted the transformation of the seedling nursery to a profitable business. Also, individually owned plots were preferred by the farmers and switching to this format increased the interest of farmers to work on their land. This example shows the benefits of participatory restoration projects in which the causalities of failure are identified and addressed adequately. Also, this case highlights the importance of matching the size of community organization with the size of restoration projects.


The PARTNERS connection
This article is part of a special issue of Current Conservation magazine. Current Conservation is published by an informal alliance of organizations to promote interdisciplinary research in conservation and to foster communication among scientists, students, resource managers, educators and policy makers. The six articles in this issue were written by PARTNERS members and focus on different aspects of forest restoration in the tropics. Each article is illustrated with unique artwork, infographics and photographic images from contributors across the world.