Global Forest Restoration and the Importance of Empowering Local Communities


The analysis examines the overlap between opportunities for tropical forest restoration, human populations, development and national policies for community forest ownership.

Forest restoration is a crucial element in strategies to mitigate climate change and conserve global biodiversity in the coming decades, and much of the focus is on formerly tree-covered lands in the tropics.

But recent forest restoration research rarely acknowledges the social dimensions or environmental justice implications of such projects. A new study finds that nearly 300 million people in the tropics live on lands suitable for forest restoration, and about a billion people live within 5 miles of such lands. Many of these people live in poverty.

Just and equitable implementation of restoration projects will require that communities be empowered to manage and use local forests, according to the authors of the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Community management of forest areas includes the rights to access the forests, withdraw forest resources, and manage lands for community benefit.

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