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Panel discussion

Thu, July 22, 12:00 hrs (UTC±00:00)

Ecological, Economic, and Social Dimensions of Tropical Restoration:

Lessons and Opportunities


Pedro Brancalion is Associate Professor at the Department of Forest Science, University of São Paulo, vice-coordinator of the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, and affiliated member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.  He published >170 peer-reviewed papers, received >8,200 citations. He coordinates large research and technology projects financed by research agencies, NGOs, and private companies. Overall, he is a generalist focused on developing cost-effective solutions to conserve and restore tropical forests, based on interdisciplinary research and co-production of knowledge with multiple stakeholders.


Dr Susan Chomba is the Director of Vital Landscapes at the World Resources Institute (WRI) leading the institution’s work on forests, food and people which includes forest landscape restoration, sustainable agriculture/food systems and thriving rural livelihoods in Africa. She is a social scientist with over 15 years of research and development experience in Africa. She previously led the Regreening Africa Programme at CIFOR-ICRAF, whose primary objective was to restore degraded lands in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Somalia in East Africa; Niger, Mali, Senegal and Ghana in West Africa. Susan has extensive experience in Africa having worked in more than 20 countries in East, West and Southern Africa. She was named one of Global Landscape Forum (GLF)’s 16 Women Restoring the Earth in 2021. In 2021, Susan was also appointed as UN high level global ambassador for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience. She is on the scientific advisory committee of the UN Food Systems Summit.  


Fangyuan Hua is a conservation ecologist at Peking University in China. Her research aims to aid the conservation and restoration of forest biodiversity, by studying how human alterations of forest ecosystems influence the ecology of wild species, and what opportunities exist to alleviate negative impacts and make biodiversity gains. Her work uses a combination of fieldwork and desktop analysis, on a variety of organisms including birds and arthropods. Prior to joining Peking University as an assistant professor in 2019, Fangyuan got her Ph.D. from the University of Florida, and conducted postdoctoral research at Princeton University and the University of Cambridge.


Robin Chazdon is part-time Research Professor with the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and Professor Emerita in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on tropical forest regeneration, forest and landscape restoration, drivers of land-use change, and ecosystem services provided by forests. She is the principal consultant of Forestoration International LLC, a consulting group established to support implementation of forest and landscape restoration. She recently served as the Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation and as Director of the Research Coordination Network PARTNERS (People and Reforestation in the Tropics). She is a Senior Fellow with the World Resources Institute Global Restoration Initiative and a Senior Research Associate with the International Institute for Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She serves on the advisory boards of, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, and the Nature-based Solutions Initiative. She is an active member of the FAO Task Force on Best Practices for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. She is the author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications.


Jaboury Ghazoul has held the Chair of Ecosystem Management at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, since 2005, and since 2018 has had a part-time position as the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Forest and Landscapes at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Jaboury also held the Prince Bernhard Chair of International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University (2015-2020). Jaboury has research interests in forest and landscape ecology, in both natural and human dominated landscapes. Much of his work focuses on pollination ecology, plant reproduction ecology, and forest restoration, landscape management, and agroforestry, and includes socio-ecological systems approaches to forest and landscape management. While most work is done in the tropics, particularly India and Southeast Asia, he has recently been working with both private of public sector organisations to develop, test, and implement land-based approaches for transitions to net-zero carbon in Scotland. He has published over 200 articles and four books, including two popular science books Forests: A Very Short Introduction (2015), and Ecology: A Very Short Introduction (2020). Jaboury was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biotropica from 2006 to 2013, and the President of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation from 2014 to 2016.


As we slowly emerge from local and global dislocations wrought by Covid, we need to renew our efforts once more in addressing global environmental issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, and habitat degradation. Traumatic as Covid has been, it will be as nothing as compared to the far longer lasting legacies of these environmental crises, the implications of which have yet to be fully understood, let alone realised. In tackling these crises, we quickly recognise that solutions are partial, outcomes incomplete, and uncertainties rife. Solutions are, nonetheless, available to us. 

Prominent among these is the concept and practice of Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR). FLR is variously interpreted and applied, but is essentially concerned with the recovery of ecological functions to benefit environmental and human wellbeing based on a landscape approach. The recent launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) has given FLR renewed impetus as “a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world” (United Nations, 2020). 

How will this vision be achieved? Or rather, how should this vision be achieved? FLR is typical of environmental initiatives in that it is, inclusively, an ecological, economic, social, and political issue (Ghazoul and Schweizer 2021). Implementation should be equitably negotiated across competing interests, while projected outcomes should take account of distributional justice concerns. Trade-offs and conflicts need to be considered and mediated. Communities must be an active part in the design and implementation process with access to viable and attractive livelihood opportunities, and benefits must be fairly distributed across all stakeholder groups. 

Monitoring systems are required to evaluate outcomes and ensure that the broad objectives of FLR are achieved, considering socioecological contexts. All of this needs to be enabled by appropriate policy frameworks and governance systems, and scaled up through substantive public and private financing. A diverse array of FLR projects are already underway across the globe, led by individuals, communities, companies, and governments (Aronson et al., 2017). If implemented well, these actions bring substantial and tangible benefits to people and nature within just a few years (Griscom et al., 2017; Chazdon and Brancalion, 2019; Ghazoul and Schweizer 2021).


This Panel Discussion will explore some of the opportunities and challenges of FLR by drawing on some of these case studies, reflecting the inter- and trans-disciplinary nature of FLR. We cannot cover all of the aspects in one session, but the discussion will provide food for thought on the urgent need to frame environmental challenges through a diversity of disciplinary and normative perspectives. The panelists will also present case studies to illustrate examples of FLR challenges, benefits, and outcomes. 

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