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MSc thesis subject: Comparative analysis of forest and landscape restoration initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean

Large areas worldwide have been deforested or degraded with a resulting loss of fertile soils, biodiversity and carbon stock. Deforestation and land degradation threaten the livelihoods, well-being, and resilience of millions of people around the world.

Restoration of degraded land
The renewed awareness of the land degradation problem is heartening and restoration of degraded lands is included as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 15). This is giving new impetus to efforts to reverse the trend by addressing the causes of degradation and taking action to restore ecosystems and landscapes where they have already been compromised. Restoration of degraded lands is also part of multilateral environmental agreements from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC REDD+), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

More specifically, focusing on restoring forests are the New York Declaration of Forests (aiming to restore 350m hectares by 2030) and the Bonn Challenge (aiming to restore 150m hectares by 2020). Regional efforts include the 20x20 initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the aim to restore 20m hectares by 2020 and the AFR100 initiative with the goal to restore 100m hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa by 2030.
The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration estimated that over two billion hectares of degraded land - an area the size of South America - have the potential for restoration.

Forest and Landscape Restoration in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

As part of the Comparative Research Project on Landscape Restoration for Emissions Reductions, a collaboration between Wageningen University & Research and The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), a database of planned, ongoing and finished forest and landscape restoration projects in LAC countries was prepared. The projects have been mapped in a GIS. More information about this project can be read in this storymap: http://arcg.is/11jO8P; and the database is accessible here: http://lucid.wur.nl/datasets/forest-and-landscape-restoration.

Next to the projects database and map, also an online survey was prepared to gather more specific information from the projects about their progress and monitoring activities.

With the information from the database and upcoming survey results, many interesting analyses can be done. By overlaying the projects map on different maps of land degradation, deforestation, biomass, (carbon) emissions, etc., the potential environmental impact of these projects can be analysed. Where appropriate social data exist (e.g. poverty maps), the potential social impact can be assessed. Comparative analyses can be done for the various types of initiatives. But it is also possible to perform an analysis for a specific country or ecoregion. Within this MSc thesis, you are free to choose your own research direction in this theme.
The overarching goal of the analysis is to understand how projects are likely to have longer-term impacts and to assess to which degree the projects are addressing the underlying drivers of land degradation.

Objectives

  • To perform a comparative analysis of forest and landscape restoration initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of:

    • Potential environmental impact and/or
    • Potential social impact

Literature

  • IUCN, 2016. Restoration of forest ecosystems and landscapes as contribution to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Gland, Switzerland.
  • Stanturf, J., Mansourian, S., Kleine, M., eds, 2017. Implementing Forest and Landscape Restoration, A Practitioner’s Guide. International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Special Programme for Development of Capacities (IUFRO-SPDC). Vienna, Austria.
  • Robin L. Chazdon et al., 2016. Carbon sequestration potential of second-growth forest regeneration in the Latin American tropics. Sci. Adv. 2 : e1501639.

Websites

Theme(s): Sensing & measuring, Modelling & visualisation, Integrated Land Monitoring