Livelihoods and Well-Being

Tropical Reforestation Should Complement and Enhance Local Livelihoods, Needs, and Cultures

Participatory planning with smallholders and communities is key for enhancing local livelihoods, lasting ecological outcomes, and support (buy-in) for restoration. Restoration should enhance the ability of local people to make a meaningful living. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to enhancing livelihoods. As such, engaging and working with local people to understand their  livelihood strategies and the potential role for restoration is essential for ensuring locally relevant outcomes. More research is needed to identify effective restoration strategies that enhance livelihoods in different contexts, and to understand the long-term impacts and outcomes of restoring forests on livelihoods.

We also need to think broadly about how restoration and livelihoods intersect. Benefits to livelihoods can be direct (e.g., payment for work), indirect/delayed through the sale of products, or indirect through the services that restoration provides to agriculture. The benefits that are most impactful will be those that meet the needs of local peoples. Tree and forest-based strategies that are already being used to enhance livelihoods can also make significant contributions to landscape level restoration, and can provide a good starting point for additional restoration efforts.