Forest ecosystems are under intense pressure from our rising population and its hunger for more land and resources. Globally, we are losing about 4.7 million hectares of tropical forest every year, often to make space for agricultural commodities (decadeonrestoration.org). Forest landscape restoration is a critical strategy for tackling this issue, including global food security, access to clean water, soil erosion, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and desertification.
Restoration is a process and set of practices to return vitality to the land. The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) emphasizes that restoration activities bring people together to identify, negotiate, and implement these practices. Restoration offers ecological, social, and economic benefits by improving the land with forests, trees, or vegetation.
According to The Nature Conservancy (TNC), reforestation is a powerful natural climate solutions pathway, with the potential to capture 8-10 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 (the equivalent of removing up to 2.16 billion cars from our roads). It means that we need to reforest 200-675 million hectares by 2030. Therefore, we need to mobilize large-scale reforestation by providing restoration investors, supporters, implementers, and evaluators with a streamlined “critical and continuous improvement performance indicators” approach for field evaluation and reporting on-field performance, called the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Field Verification Standard.
Preferred by Nature (previously known as NEPCon) has developed a Global Protocol for Performance Assessment of Ecosystem Restoration. The protocol is publicly available for use by all other organizations and individuals and has gone through an internal Preferred by Nature review and international confidential expert review to 45+ restoration scientists and practitioners. The reviews generally receive very positive responses indicating that the approach fills a critical gap for enhanced accountability in the restoration sector.
Organizations and individuals providing constructive reviews so far have included CIFOR, Climate Focus, Eden Projects, FLORES restoration scientist’s collaborative, FAO and its FLRM, FSC, HCVRN, IUCN, One Tree Planted, Rainforest Alliance, SER (global and Australasia teams), TNC, WeForest, WRI, WWF US, Xylem Investments, and a large number of experienced individual researchers at multiple universities (Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Netherlands, and USA).
The purpose of this project was to conduct field tests, seek stakeholder feedback, and update the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Standard from its current version 1.0 to a new version 2.0 incorporating field test results and stakeholder feedback. Field testing was conducted in 3 selected locations: Spain, Chile, and US to make a reality check of the standard requirements.
As part of the planned effort, Preferred by Nature will go through two rounds of public consultation, with technical improvements made each time based on comments provided, and organize a meeting in Washington, D.C.