Forest Landscape Restoration: Who Decides? A Governance Approach to Forest Landscape Restoration

Oosten, C.J. van


Forest landscape restoration is currently gaining momentum as a means of jointly addressing climate change and future agricultural demands. Forest landscape restoration does not aim to ‘just’ restore forests, but to restore them from a broader perspective on the landscape as a whole, allowing simultaneous restoration of the ecological and productive functions of forests. There are many ways in which forested landscapes can be restored, depending on the biophysical characteristics of the landscapes, but also, and even more so on the interests of a landscape’s stakeholders, and the way in which they negotiate, and make landscape decisions. This complex process of decision making between stakeholders operating at various levels and scales is usually referred to as landscape governance. Landscape governance often does not tally with the political-administrative structures of states, because landscapes are usually not incorporated as a formal layer in the political and administrative structures of states. Instead, landscape governance is captured in a messy web of multi-actor networks, institutions and institutional arrangements, (in)formally constructed across levels and scales, more or less embedded in locally existing livelihood strategies and socially embedded institutional frames. Global initiatives on forest landscape restoration are therefore not to be institutionalized along structures of formal (de)centralized structures of states, but ‘bricoled’ though informal networks, multi-stakeholder coalitions, or public-private partnerships engaged in processes of landscape learning, where stakeholders learn to create and share institutional space. In this way, forest landscape restoration can become a catalyst for institutional change, transforming governance into a process of place-bound negotiation and decision making, to collectively make place.