Image Unsplash - Silas Baisch

FERI marks a decade of forest ecosystem restoration

With the International Day of Forests (21 March) this year, the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI) will mark the 10th anniversary of its inception

Adopted at COP 12 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), FERI is an initiative of the Republic of Korea that is implemented by the CBD Secretariat. It was conceived as a framework for coordinated action on forest ecosystem conservation and restoration under the CBD. Ten years on, FERI has not lost one leaf of its relevance. 

Forests harbor about 80 per cent of terrestrial biodiversity. The Forest sector employs an estimated 33 million people. The sustainable use of forests is crucial to living in harmony with nature, but the planet is losing forests at an alarming rate: 10 million hectares annually due to deforestation and approximately 70 million hectares scorched by fires. Driven by unsustainable consumption and production, the loss of forest ecosystems is accelerated by and, in turn, exacerbates the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. 

Today FERI is part of the mosaic of global action in support of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). The initiative is also supporting the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, also known as the Biodiversity Plan. The premise is clear: the world’s masterplan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss cannot work without the restoration of the planet’s invaluable forest ecosystems. 

Here are three ways in which FERI is making forest ecosystem restoration part of the (Biodiversity) Plan:

  • Making direct contributions to forest-related targets 

FERI is deploying capacity building to help participating countries achieve swift progress in achieving Target 2 of the Biodiversity Plan, namely “restoring 30 per cent of all degraded ecosystems”, through accelerated action on ecosystem restoration. In articulating its interventions, the initiative nurtures an understanding of the pivotal role that Indigenous peoples and local communities play as custodians of forests and the biodiversity they host, and as holders of traditional knowledge. 

The ambition is to generate benefits that permeate the Biodiversity Plan as a whole, well beyond Target 2. The initiative offers opportunities to identify pathways to prosper with nature, invest and collaborate, and share benefits fairly in the context of the conservation and sustainable management of forests. 

  • Promoting restoration at scale 

Restoring forest ecosystems can take many forms, including returning trees to former forest land, planting native tree species, conserving wild plants and animals and protecting the forest ecosystem (encompassing trees, water, soil, fauna and flora). Lands cleared for farming are ideal sites for restoration action; in some cases, forest trees will re-grow naturally.

FERI delivers capacity building and facilitates peer-learning, including the exchange of best practices. It builds on lessons learned from 12 pilot projects implemented during a previous phase in Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya Lebanon, Madagascar, Mexico, Niger, Peru and Uruguay. These pilots have demonstrated that adequate forest restoration works in a variety of biophysical and socio-economic contexts, from tropical forests to drylands. By leveraging the demonstration effect, FERI continues to catalyze a global surge in forest ecosystem restoration.

  • Delivering a methodological toolkit to ground forest restoration in evidence

The effectiveness of forest restoration activities is measured by a combination of indicators and baselines. The rigorous harvesting of data and associated methodologies allow experts to evaluate progress and recommend corrective action, where required. FERI is building capacity in this field in full alignment with the monitoring framework that is being rolled out with the 23 targets of the Biodiversity Plan. 

Activities in this field also cover equipping countries with robust methodological tools to optimize forest restoration areas to achieve balanced biodiversity, carbon sequestration and cost efficiency outcomes. Considering that the implementation of the Biodiversity Plan requires a whole-of society endeavor, reliable assessments can incentivize investment and support the mobilization of financial resources blending public and private funds.

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More information:

Statement: International Day of Forests 2024

Forest Biodiversity

The Biodiversity Plan