Forests and Landscape Restoration Feature at UN Biodiversity Conference
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
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At the UN Biodiversity Conference, the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13) adopted a decision on mainstreaming biodiversity that includes a section on forestry.

The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) convened a special day on ‘Forest Landscapes and Ecosystem Restoration,’ which resulted in a joint Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Message on ‘Fostering Partnerships to Build Coherence and Support for Forest Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration'.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Mexican REDD+ Programme and the Latin American Conservation Council (LACC) signed and launched the Yucatán Peninsula Agreement on Sustainability for 2030, which aims to achieve zero deforestation by 2030 and restore two million hectares of degraded lands, among other goals.

18 December 2016: Forests played an integral role at the UN Biodiversity Conference, both in the intergovernmental negotiations, as well as during side events and other special events. The High-Level Segment (HLS) of the Conference, held from 2-3 December 2016, featured a roundtable on forests.

The HLS adopted the Cancun Declaration on ‘Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-Being,’ which contains guidance for mainstreaming conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in, inter alia, forestry. The guidance recommends: designing and promoting incentive packages for restoration, conservation and sustainable use of forest resources; promoting private sector participation in the development of production chains aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation while increasing the benefits of landholders and local communities; and promoting the implementation of the International Agreement on Forests.

The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13) adopted a decision on mainstreaming biodiversity, which includes a section on forestry. In the decision, the COP encourages Parties to, inter alia: consider biodiversity when implementing actions set out in Article 5 of the Paris Agreement (sinks and reservoirs); strengthen participation of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) as part of a strategy for, among others, forest protection; promote the adoption of sustainable forest management practices in the forest sector; and use, develop and enhance governance and collaborate to promote legally and sustainably sourced forest products, and to combat illegal logging and associated trade.

The COP also adopted a decision on forest biodiversity, which encourages Parties, when developing and implementing their forest policy, to consider: other land uses, including agriculture, green areas in urban spaces, livestock and tourism; climate change mitigation and adaptation; disaster risk reduction (DRR); and the impact of unsustainable forest use. The COP encourages Parties to consider the conservation and sustainable use of natural forests and native vegetation, and avoid the potential negative impacts of afforestation of non-forest biomes. [IISD RS Coverage of the UN Biodiversity Conference]

The CBD Secretariat released, in advance of COP 13, an ‘Updated assessment of progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5 [loss of natural habitats, including forests] and 15 [ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks],’ (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/INF/12), which provides an outlook on their advancement by 2020 and is part of the implementation of the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI). On halving the rate of loss of natural forests and reducing it to zero where possible (from Target 5), the report concludes that while some progress has been made under this component since 2011, mostly in Latin America, more efforts are required to reach this objective, particularly in Africa where forest loss has accelerated since 2011. On enhancing the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems (from Target 15), the report stresses the need for, inter alia: a better understanding of the value in aligning REDD+ or other ecosystem-based mitigation actions with biodiversity objectives. [Updated Assessment of Progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5 and 15]

The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) convened a special day on ‘Forest Landscapes and Ecosystem Restoration,’ which resulted in a joint Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Message on ‘Fostering Partnerships to Build Coherence and Support for Forest Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration.’

The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) convened a special day on ‘Forest Landscapes and Ecosystem Restoration,’ which provided an opportunity for countries and organizations to showcase planning and implementation measures and coordination efforts to reduce forest habitat loss, deforestation and forest degradation. The event was co-organized by the 14 members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), with support from Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, the Government of Mexico and others.

Panel sessions convened on: the global restoration movement, methodologies used and the way forward; country experiences with forest landscape restoration (FLR) with presentations from Ethiopia, Brazil, Finland, Guatemala, Mongolia and the Philippines; monitoring the impacts of restoration; and partnership support to advance national restoration plans and facilitate implementation measures.

The event resulted in a joint CPF Message on ‘Fostering Partnerships to Build Coherence and Support for Forest Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration,’ which renews the commitment of the 14 CPF agencies to the global restoration agenda through integrating policy advocacy, research, and technical and financial assistance in its 2017–2020 workplan to be anchored in the 2017–2030 UN Strategic Plan for Forests. [CPF Message] [Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology] [RCP Website for Forest Landscapes and Ecosystem Restoration Day] [IISD RS Coverage of the Event] [FERI Website]

In advance of the UN Biodiversity Conference, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released an information document through the CBD, titled ‘Restoration of forest ecosystems and landscapes as contribution to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,’ (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/INF/11), which provides examples from countries that are already implementing FLR activities through their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) or have pledged FLR action under other international commitments and initiatives.

IUCN’s forest team also hosted several related events, including an event on ‘Restoring Forest Ecosystems and Landscapes: examples of country leadership and progress to achieve the Aichi Targets,’ which showcased FLR interventions in Central America that have incorporated biodiversity considerations into programme design and are demonstrating results.

Another event, ‘Landscape Restoration: Bridging the gap between sustainable rural development and biodiversity targets at the sub-national scale,’ presented how FLR is being implemented in Mexico, outlined future steps for Mexico’s Landscape Restoration Strategy, and discussed how to achieve rural sustainable development through actions by all stakeholders at the landscape level. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced that the seventh GEF replenishment (GEF-7) will involve new strategies to support forest restoration where communities are the driving force. [IUCN Press Release on COP 13 Activities] [Restoring Forest Ecosystems and Landscapes: Examples of Country Leadership and Progress to Achieve the Aichi Targets] [IISD RS Coverage of Side Events]

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), BirdLife International and the CBD organized an event titled, ‘Borderless conservation in a borderless world and efforts of countries to conserve tropical forest biodiversity in transboundary areas.’ The event showcased conservation projects that utilize an ecoregional approach within an international framework to conserve forests and forest biodiversity in transboundary areas. It focused on outcomes and lessons learned from projects in the Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex (ETPFC) shared by Thailand, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and in the Greater Gola Landscape between Liberia and Sierra Leone. The event showed how international cooperation is essential for the sustainable management of transboundary forest areas and the protection of the biodiversity contained in them, while also helping local people maintain cultural links across borders. During the event, outcomes were presented from the ITTO-funded project, ‘Management of the ETPFC to promote cooperation for transboundary biodiversity conservation between Thailand, Cambodia and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Phase III).’ The project has strengthened protection of the transboundary area through joint monitoring, capacity building and research. The event also discussed the ITTO/CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity and its contribution to the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and forest-related Aichi Biodiversity Targets. [ITTO Press Release] [ITTO/CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity]

Another forest-related side event discussed community participation and biodiversity, highlighting conservation management efforts in Belize, Indonesia and Taiwan, including: conservation efforts of the Scarlet Macaw in the Chiquibul Forest in Belize; conservation, public policy and advocacy to address private sector exploration and restoration efforts through the Ecosystem Restoration Concession legislation in Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia, and creating a balance between conservation and community needs, through community conservation agreements; and livelihood activities, including training opportunities, to ensure that the Wan-Shian indigenous community in Taiwan can be self-sufficient, particularly the youth who are often hired as rangers to prevent illegal logging and poaching.

Another forest-related side event saw the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Mexican REDD+ Programme and the Latin American Conservation Council (LACC) sign and launch the Yucatán Peninsula Agreement on Sustainability for 2030, which, among other things, aims to: achieve zero deforestation by 2030; restore two million hectares of degraded lands; and promote Mayan biocultural landscapes on over five million hectares of land. [IISD RS Coverage of Side Events] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Launch]

Various publications related to forests were made available during the Conference. Bioversity International is developing an online decision-support tool, which aims to help those interested in planting trees to identify appropriate tree species and sources of planting material. The tool is elaborated on in a Bioversity International blog, as part of a CBD COP 13 Forest and Landscape Restoration blog series. The blog discusses how to ensure that native species and seed sources are site-adapted, which requires scientifically-based decision-making capacity that most restoration practitioners currently lack.

Other blog posts in the series address, inter alia: restoring productivity and biodiversity in tropical forests by mimicking natural disasters; and integrating tree seed considerations in restoration planning, and available research results, approaches and tools to support this process. The Bioversity International blog series helps explain why mainstreaming agricultural and tree biodiversity is critical in sustainable food and production systems to achieve the CBD’s Strategic Action Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. [COP 13 Blog Series] [Blog Post on Tool to Guide Species and Seed Selection for the Restoration of Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest in Colombia] [Beta Version of the Tool] [Blog Post on Restoring Productivity and Biodiversity in Tropical Forests by Mimicking Natural Disasters] [Blog Post on Integrating Tree Seed Considerations in Restoration Planning]

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) released a publication aimed at helping forestry officers develop gender-responsive actions so they can identify concrete actions to mainstream gender issues into forestry projects and programmes. Such actions could include: efforts to increase women’s participation in community forest management groups, small- and medium-scale enterprises, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and village administration; and measures to increase women’s participation in marketing non-wood forest products, including food and medicines, to help empower women in the forestry sector. [FAO Press Release] [How to Mainstream Gender in Forestry: A Practical Field Guide]


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