Getting It Right: Forest Landscape Restoration Investments for Ecological and Economic Gains, while Enhancing Food Production

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

COP23 Side Event

Climate action for zero hunger is the theme at the IUCN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP23) on November 14th. IUCN and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) take this opportunity to explore the relationship between forest landscape restoration (FLR) and food security at the IUCN pavilion. A recent web story tells us more about their findings.

On Tuesday, November 14,  the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture--will be discussed throughout COP23. At the IUCN pavilion, a session titled Getting it right: Forest landscape restoration investments for ecological and economic gains, while enhancing food production and productivity at global and local level will explore the potential benefits of FLR on food security with climate change and SDG2 implications. A recent web story co-authored by IFPRI and IUCN sets the stage for this event.

                   The agriculture-forest interface is the key to achieving global restoration goals
Deforestation and forest degradation are causing ecological and socioeconomic problems in every part of the world. It is well known that these impact the climate by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide?affecting the environment and communities globally. Degradation of land and soil also posesÿsubstantial challenges to meeting global food needs and generates additional significant risks to people, particularly in predominantly rural and poor countries heavily dependent on natural resources. It is estimated that the global cost of land degradation due to land-use change and to the use of land-degrading management practices is about US$300 billion annually. Moreover, if the current pace of land degradation continues over the next 20 years, it could reduce global food production by as much as 12 percent and increase the price of some commodities by as much as 30 percent.
A group of researchers at IFPRI and the IUCN set out to assess the potential benefits of a globally widespread adoption of forest landscape restoration. The results of thisÿrecent work on land degradationÿreveal that the full inclusion of crop production in the forest landscape restoration approach could produce large-scale, worldwide benefits for food security.
The positive impacts are multifaceted and significant in size: A reduction in the number of malnourished children ranging from 3 to 6 million; a reduced number of people at risk of hunger, estimated at 70 and 151 million; reduced pressure for expansion of cropland; increased soil fertility; and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. These benefits?not only to farmers but also to the broader population?strongly suggest that a forest landscape restoration approach that meaningfully integrates agriculture can facilitate the implementation of restoration plans on large amounts of land.
As impressive as these results are, the limits of the modeling employed indicate that these numbers may actually underestimate the full potential of a widespread adoption of restoration practices. Due to current modeling constraints, the representation of agroforestry, silvopastoral, and agrosilvopastoral systems at the global level is difficult and the role of these systems on a global scale remains unexplored. This is an important area for future work because research consistently indicates that the judicious use of agroforestry can provide an additional source of vitamins and micronutrients, among other positive effects on the nutritional qualities of farm output.
The results of this new work (which has not yet been peer-reviewed) not only confirm the findings of the many studies that have investigated the benefits of land and forest restoration in more localized settings they should also provide enough confidence to governments and policy makers to answer the many calls to invest in wide-scale restoration projects without jeopardizing their food security goals. Approaches that fully integrate agriculture in restoration projects, such as forest landscape restoration, can not only avoid trade-offs between restoration and food production, but also can provide a framework to build on the synergies of multifunctional landscapes with significant benefits to food security.

Slideshare Media from Presentation
The agriculture-forest interface is the key to achieving global restoration goals (Alex De Pinto)