In March 2016, IUCN and the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies launched an online course on the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) to enhance the capacity of restoration practitioners across the world. Within a year, the course reached 125 individuals in 30 countries. These are their stories.
ROAM is a framework for building a forest landscape restoration (FLR) programme from the ground-up and has been proven effective in assessing and laying the groundwork for FLR work with practical steps for diverse stakeholders to restore landscapes at any scale. It was developed by IUCN and the World Resources Institute (WRI) and is currently being applied in over 26 countries. Recognising the need to train practitioners in applying ROAM, IUCN and ELTI designed an interactive six-week course on the methodology and translated it into English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. The course has reached a diverse assemblage of government and non-government practitioners and is helping them scale up restoration programmes, engage with stakeholders more effectively and share knowledge among one another.
Alphonse Polisi, the Director for Environment and Climate Change in Burundi’s Office for Protection of the Environment (OBPE) recognised that stakeholder involvement was key to the success of restoration but he needed more tools at his disposal to effectively bring together the needs of diverse groups within a landscape. He decided to join the IUCN-ELTI course to address this. As he delved deeper into the FLR approach, he spotted the need for multiple organisations and programmes to coordinate and built a central database of national environmental programmes. Elie Hakizumwami, IUCN’s Forest Landscape Restoration Policy Specialist for Central and West Africa saw a similar need. “Drive through Burundi and you will see isolated community restoration initiatives supported by a number of organisations. “Greater coordination between implementing organisations would multiply their impact,” he said. He credits the IUCN-ELTI ROAM training with refining his stakeholder engagement skills and is working with his colleagues to support a National FLR Taskforce and National FLR Program for Burundi that will coordinate, monitor and report on FLR initiatives at national and international levels.
In Antioquia, Colombia the benefits of FLR were unique – it had the potential to contribute to the recovery of internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their lands after decades of conflict. IUCN invited David Echeverri López, Biologist with the Forests and Biodiversity Group of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of the Negro and Nare Rivers (CORNARE) and Talía Waldrón, Adjunct Researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute to join the IUCN-ELTI course. Six weeks later, both David and Talia felt equipped to support their government in applying FLR with David saying, “For us it is a source of pride and inspiration to be recognized for nurturing sustainable development in this time of new peace.”
One of the key benefits of participating in the IUCN-ELTI course was the potential to network with practitioners working in similar situations and geographies. Martín Reyes Acevedo, a Research Associate for the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and Sara Yalle Paredes from Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Service and Authority (SERFOR) reaped the benefit of this dialogue between peers. Today, the duo share information to support Peru’s restoration efforts.
In the Philippines and Myanmar, the training helped Michelle Ojeda, Forester for the Philippines’ Forest Management Bureau and Ohn Lwin, a consultant for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Myanmar, and 32-year veteran of Myanmar’s Forest Department introduce their colleagues to the landscape approach and embed it into national restoration programmes. After the course, Lwin expressed his interest in conducting similar trainings for his peers saying, “The course offered something for every profession, background, and level of government. This was very impressive. I’m used to trainings oriented around a single operation, outcome, or role. Someday soon, I would like to lead a training like that, specifically for people in Myanmar.”
For more experiences from the IUCN-ELTI course, check out our new impact storybook – Leaders in Action: Achieving forest landscape restoration through online learning