The Global Guide

    Restoring Tropical Forests: A Practical Guide

With sponsorship from Britain's Darwin Initiative, FORRU-CMU has been working with Kate Hardwick from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and David Blakesley from Wildlife Landscapes, to compile a generic 'global guide' to restoring tropical forests. Combining the experience and techniques, developed by FORRU-CMU, with case studies from all tropical regions, this manual will provide a starting point for forest restoration projects on all three tropical continents, with editions in English, Spanish and French.

The project strengthens the longterm legacy of two previous Darwin projects (2002-05 and 2005-08), in which FORRU-CMU was a partner, by enabling the publication outputs of those projects, designed for Indochina (i.e. "How to Plant a Forest" and "Research for Restoration Tropical Forest Ecosystems"), to be enhanced for use throughout the tropics.

In recent years, interest in restoring tropical forest ecosystems, both for biodiversity recovery and for carbon storage has surged. Whilst the policy and socio-economic issues of forest restoration are being addressed, the same cannot be said of scientific and technical aspects. Kew and FORRU-CMU recognize that forest restoration practices should be based on the best science available. Some well-established aspects of restoration science can be immediately applied to improve implementation of tropical forest restoration around the world, whilst others will training practitioners in research methods, to develop the most appropriate techniques and species choices for each of the various tropical forest ecosystem types.

Many tropical forest restoration projects are being hurriedly put together in anticipation of various schemes to mitigate global warming. Such projects could also contribute significantly to biodiversity recovery, provided they are well designed, but at the moment there is very little consideration of biodiversity in tropical reforestation programs.

FORRU-CMU's work has generated two kinds of outputs i) techniques to restore seasonal tropical forest ecosystems in Thailand (presented in the Darwin-funded manual “How to Plant a Forest”) and ii) effective research protocols that could be used to develop effective restoration techniques for other tropical forest ecosystems (published in the Darwin-funded manual “Research for Restoring Tropical Forests”). Two previous Darwin projects funded the translation of these books into Thai, Khmer, Laotian and Chinese. The current project is adapting and expanding the material into a third volume, with case studies from throughout the tropics, to produce a global generic text that will make a major contribution to forest ecosystem restoration on all three tropical continents. We anticipate high demand for such a volume, from projects ranging from biodiversity recovery and watershed rehabilitation, to carbon offset and environmental education. The book should substantially improve existing forest restoration projects and provide impetus to start new one.

The guide will present three aspects of the restoration of tropical forest ecosystems for biodiversity recovery and environmental protection:-
  • general concepts of tropical forest dynamics and regeneration, relevant to effective restoration activities;
  • proven restoration techniques and case studies of their successful application on all three tropical continents;
  • research methods to refine such techniques and adapt them to local ecological and socio-economic conditions.
The new guide will enable Kew staff to disseminate effective restoration principles and practices to project partners around the world and thus raise the organization's direct involved in ecological restoration. It is primarily aimed at practitioners and researchers, to enable them to develop appropriate techniques to restore tropical forest ecosystems (and their associated high biodiversity) that are suited to local ecological and socio-economic conditions. It will also be useful for policy makers – to raise awareness of alternative ecologically based options that are available for the restoration of degraded tropical forest land.

Full details of this project are in the public domain on the Darwin Initiative website. The book is now in press. For contents and ordering information, please go to "Upcoming Events".