How rights-based forest restoration can empower communities, recover biodiversity, and tackle the climate crisis
Forest restoration is gaining traction around the world as a key strategy to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. However, with growing pressure to set aside “space for nature” in global targets and international policies, there is a strong risk that the rights of communities living closest to forested areas will yet again be compromised.
Fern’s new report ‘Restoring More Than Forests’ explores current restoration practice and makes recommendations for policy mechanisms to support rights-based approaches. Using Ghana as a case study, it finds that the lack of an agreed definition for restoration means that companies and organisations often fail to ensure good outcomes for climate change mitigation, ecosystems and human rights. The report also uncovers holistic projects that create good outcomes for biodiversity, carbon capture, climate resilience, and people.
In many parts of the world, communities have been sustainably stewarding forest resources for centuries. The report recommends putting people at the centre of restoration by recognising that humans are a part of forest ecosystems. To do this, it suggests a focus on rights-based forest restoration which involves communities at every stage of design and delivery through participatory governance. It calls on international policy, financial mechanisms and national forest strategies to differentiate between different types of restoration projects and adopt the provided rights-based forest restoration definition so that small scale initiatives can be scaled and replicated.