Going beyond just planting trees, the benefits of forest restoration include addressing climate change, conserving biodiversity, and protecting the world's water supplies. Discussed in the international workshop, “International Workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration and the Linkage to Climate Change,” is how Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) can tackle environmental issues facing China.
Almost 100 representatives from China and United Kingdom’s governmental departments, research institutions, and NGOs attended International Workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration and the Linkage in Climate Change on 28 to 29 September 2008, in Miyun County. The hosts were IUCN China Liaison Office, China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA), United Kingdom Forestry Commission, and Beijing Forestry Society. This workshop served as a part of the ongoing China-UK Sustainable Development Dialogue and Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration by offering a forum for both sides to share information on forest landscape restoration, watershed management, and the relationship between forests and climate change.
Specifically, the workshop performed the following roles:
- Strengthened the bilateral dialogue and facilitated international networking on FLR between China and United Kingdom
- Increased the participants’ understanding of FLR
- Explored what opportunities and challenges exist related to climate change for FLR work
- Presented, demonstrated and ‘tested’ the FLR approach in China
Delegates from SFA, and Beijing Municipal Parks and Forestry Bureau discussed policies and programs adopted in recent years in recognition of the importance of forests to countering natural disasters and climate change. Green for Grain project was established a result of the severe flooding of Changjiang in 1998. The project’s goal is to convert much of the farmland on steep slopes into forests and grasslands. This project subsidizes farmers of areas of upper Changjiang, and upper and middle Yellow River to plant trees on their farmland. Furthermore, Beijing introduced the carbon sequestration campaign, allowing the public to buy back the carbon they have emitted into the air.
Although China has made great strides in countering forest loss, the strategies themselves often need further revision. Regenerated forests in China, usually monoculture plantations tend to host a low biodiversity. Similar problems once plagued the forests in UK. Due to years of experience, the governmental organizations and NGOs in Britain have accrued tremendous amount of knowledge. A representative from UK Forestry Commission shared the organization’s conservation of Loch Katrine in Scotland. Another delegate discussed the conservation projects of The Woodland Trust.
While delegates from Chinese and UK governments and NGOs presented their projects, IUCN representatives set the workshop’s tone. Stewart Maginnis, the Head of IUCN's Forest Conservation Programme, began the workshop’s presentations by discussing the principles of Forest Landscape Management. He drew out the two key themes that would be reverberated throughout the meeting. A balance between the well-being of humans and that of the forest must be reached, and afforestation and establishing tree plantations should not be the absolute solutions to rehabilitating forests. In addition, Mr. Maginnis also praised China’s efforts towards forest landscape restoration.
“China is a key nation for forest landscape restoration efforts with a wealth of experience to share and opportunities on a scale rarely found elsewhere,” said Mr. Stewart Maginnis. “China has developed pioneering restoration programs such as Grain for Green, which provides incentives to convert agriculture land to forests on highly vulnerable steep slopes.”
In the afternoon, Mr. Maginnis gave his second presentation of the day on the role of forest landscape restoration in addressing climate change. Recently, Asia has exhibited an annual gain in tree, a phenomenon when much of the world decreases in tree cover, and this is due to China’s afforestation effort. Mr. Maginnis emphasized that forest problems should not be treated as that of forests, but that of land use.
Another important theme of the workshop was the heavy emphasis put upon partnership. Carole Saint-Laurent, the Coordinator of IUCN’s Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, presented on the relationship between partnership in FLR and climate change. Her presentation focused on creating a balanced message from the stakeholders. She also provided a step-by-step introduction on how to develop such a message.
Ms. Dong Ke of IUCN-China Liaison Office gave a presentation on Huayuan Village, the site of next day’s field trip, to the audience. Huayuan Village is a part of Miyun Watershed and is a pilot site that incorporates IUCN’s Livelihoods and Landscapes Initiative. Instead of strike adherence to no logging, certain conifer trees are strategically logged to accommodate other species’ growth and in turn, biodiversity.
Some of the delegated participated in hiking in Huayuan Village. In the afternoon, the delegates assembled for a final discussion on their observations and ideas.
Overall, the delegates to the workshop all agreed that China has made tremendous improvement in countering forest loss and climate change. Some, however, wanted to make the Chinese delegates be aware that a nuanced response to forest management is most effective in combating climate change and biodiversity conservation. The delegates wanted to stress that China is on the right path of forest restoration. As a speaker in an earlier discussion points out, the most important step is to “put down trees first and worry about the structure later.”
For more information on the LLS, please visit IUCN-China's LLS Website, or contact:
Dong Ke, Senior Forest Programme Officer
Li Jia, Forest Management Officer
For more information on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) and Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), please contact:
Carole Saint-Laurent, Coordinator of IUCN’s Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration