Forest News #4

In this issue, we go from urban trees to mountain forests, with a look on the impact of gender on restoration efforts and a e-course on REDD+. Also, don't forget to check the upcoming Latsis conference in Zürich, Switzerland, joining several international experts to discuss how to scale-up forest restoration.

Why cities should plant more trees: a short video on the contribution of urban trees address for public health, reducing air pollution and extreme heat, and about the strategies and challenges of tree planting. Published by VOX webzine with the article here (external link)

This month:

Urban trees:

  • Trees in cities were once considered mere “ornaments” but it is becoming clearer how many benefits they can bring: clean air, energy savings, improved mental health, livelier communities, reduced flood risk, an so on. Both this article published at The Guardian and the VOX video and article highlighted above provide a good overview with examples from around the world.
  • A good example of a changing attitude is the City of Trees project in England. The aim is to plant three million trees in Greater Manchester over the next 25 years – one for every man, woman and child living in the area. Interestingly, project promoters have observed that urban trees increase the amount of time shoppers spend in retail areas, which can help to transform impoverished neighbourhoods.
  • Looking at the impact on public health and how the return on investment of planting urban trees can be significant, the Nature Conservancy analised 245 cities around the world. Their Planting Healthy Air report, available as a full report or executive summary, is a must read.
  • In a similar line, researchers recently estimated how tree cover contributed to ecosystem services in 10 megacities (>10 million habitats) in 5 continents. As reported via Climate Science News, they found that planting 20 percent more trees would double the benefits of urban forests, like pollution removal, energy savings and carbon sequestration.
  • Megacities link two so-called “megatrends”: population growth and urbanisation. Given their size, the need for resources and the impact of environmental issues are greatly magnified. Beijing, with 21 million inhabitants and frequent reports of toxic smog storms locking the city down is a prime example of these issues. As an example of the impact of trees outside the city, we recommend watching the video “Trees for Water” from the IUCN, linking forest landscape restoration to the water supply of Beijing.

Gender impact in Restoration efforts

  • Experience shows that forest management is more successful if women’s participation is encouraged. Scientists and practitioners from East Africa met in Nairobi to discuss how to enhance gender equality in and through forest landscape restoration initiatives. A key point they identified was land and tree tenure. If women are not recognized as rights-holders, they provide labour for restoration initiatives but they do not benefit from them as much as men.
  • A gender-responsive approach is currently being used in many mangrove restoration projects worldwide. In Asia, for example, Mangroves for the Future, an initiative co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, promotes women’s participation and gender equality through sustainable livelihoods and financial leadership training that result in additional income opportunities.

Mountain forests

  • Andean forests contribute to rural and urban livelihoods in the region but they are increasingly threatened by demographic pressures. Therefore, restoration targets have been set in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Recently, CIFOR and the Andean Forest Program found that the Andean countries might use different approaches to restoration but they face common challenges, especially on how to integrate ecological restoration into government policies.
  • A recent study found that successful restoration efforts in the Peruvian Andes were characterized by the involvement of the local communities. Researchers recommend to strengthen community organizations and to promote environmental awareness.
  • In Asia, mountain forests also provide many services to local and downstream residents but their sociocultural, economic and ecological values are still poorly understood. A multi-institutional study compiled the most relevant tools and approaches to assess the ecosystem services, covering case studies in Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Iran and Nepal.

Events to note:

  • June 6&7, Zurich – Switzerland: Latsis Symposium 2018 – Scaling up forest restoration (link and registration)
    The Latsis Symposium 2018 brings together some of the world’s leading forest restoration scientists at ETH Zürich to address the ecological, economic, and societal challenges for scaling-up forest restoration. It is motivated by the challenge of delivering an effective global response to two major environmental threats, climate change and forest degradation.

Online Course Suggestion:

  • Our suggestion this month covers the REDD+ Academy e-Course, offered by the UN Climate Change e-learning platform. This course offers various components of REDD+, from the basics to setting reference levels, monitoring and stakeholder engagement. It contains 12 modules with each module taking about 2 hours to complete. The course is self-paced and has no registration fee. You’ll need to pass a quiz after each module to receive your certificate from UN-REDD and UNITAR.
  • More details about the course, platform and (free) registration here: