Our bottom line: Start with people and design systemic solutions that are durable from economic, social, and natural perspectives. The systemic solutions need to have elements that can be adapted as the climate continues to change. Ultimately, to maximize impacts, government policy must incentivize and reinforce decision making at the local level.
Reordered Rules with Sacco/Hardwick et al. Explanation1
1. Put local people at the heart of tree-planting projects
Studies show that getting local communities on board is key to the success of tree-planting projects. It is often local people who have most to gain from looking after the forest in the future.
Nature For Justice’s Rationale for the Order of the Rules
2. Protect existing forests first
Keeping forests in their original state is always preferable; undamaged old forests soak up carbon better and are more resilient to fire, storm and droughts. “Whenever there’s a choice, we stress that halting deforestation and protecting remaining forests must be a priority,” said Prof Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at RGB Kew.
3. Make it pay
The sustainability of tree re-planting rests on a source of income for all stakeholders, including the poorest.
4. Plan ahead
Plan how to source seeds or trees, working with local people.
Learn by doing
Combine scientific knowledge with local knowledge. Ideally, small-scale trials should take place before planting large numbers of trees.
5. Maximize biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals
Reforestation should be about several goals, including guarding against climate change, improving conservation and providing economic and cultural benefits.
We think of this within the context of increasing ALL elements of the natural capital stack: biodiversity, carbon, water, and other ecosystem services.
6. Use natural forest regrowth wherever possible
Letting trees grow back naturally can be cheaper and more efficient than planting trees.
Natural regeneration is more effective, leads to a more diverse and well-balanced ecosystem, and is cheaper per unit area.
7. Select the right tree species that can maximise biodiversity
Where tree planting is needed, picking the right trees is crucial. Scientists advise a mixture of tree species naturally found in the local area, including some rare species and trees of economic importance, but avoiding trees that might become invasive.
8. Select the right area for reforestation
Plant trees in areas that were historically forested but have become degraded, rather than using other natural habitats such as grasslands or wetlands.
9. Make sure the trees are resilient to adapt to a changing climate
Use tree seeds that are suitable for the local climate and how that might change in the future.
10. Protect gains through government policy
Don’t neglect the importance of advocating for policies that facilitate all of the above. Start local but broader impacts need a reinforcing policy framework.
Nature For Justice’s role is to act as the bridge between communities and those with resources, capabilities, technologies, and interest in promoting durable solutions that promote justice and equity. Scientific knowledge and expertise must cross the bridge. We can make that happen.
1 “Ten golden rules for reforestation to optimize carbon sequestration, biodiversity recovery and livelihood benefits” Global Change Biology January 25,2021 (Link)