Case Study – Mano River Union Watershed, West Africa
AbC – Abidjan Convention
AfDB – African Development Bank
AFR100 – African Landscape Restoration Initiative
BC – Bonn Challenge
BINGO – Big International Non-Governmental Organization
CBD – Convention on Biological Diversity
CEPF – Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
CIF – Climate Investment Fund
CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
FLR – Forest Landscape Restoration
FORM – Forest Resources Management Associates, incorporated Enterprise
GEF – Global Environment Facility of the World Bank
GIS – Geographic Information Systems
GIS – Geographic Information Systems
GPFLR – Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration
HCVF – High Conservation Value Forest
ICZM – Integrated Coastal Zone Management
IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature
IWRM – Mano River Ecosystem Conservation and International Water Resources Management
KLM – Knowledge Management and Learning
LMF – Landscape Management Framework
LR – Landscape Restoration
MRU – Mano River Union
NDC – Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement
NEPAD – New Partnership for Africa’s Development
NEWMAP – Nigeria Watershed Management Project
PPP – Public Private Partnership
REDD+ – Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the role of forest conservation, sustainable forest management and carbon stocks enhancements
ROAM – Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology
RS – Remote Sensing
SLCLC – Sierra Leone Coastal Landscape Complex
TOC – Theory of Change
UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
WA BiCC – West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program
WRI – World Resources Institute
This diagnostic report presents a Project Scenario. The diagnostic is one way of giving renewed vigor to any Landscape Restoration Program. By sharing the concepts, instances of learning and unlearning; and how to prepare for inevitable change, the diagnostic contributes to knowledge and learning about landscape restoration in a watershed composed of numerous river basins, and facing degradation. Such a Watershed is the Mano River Union area of West Africa. Below are some key messages from this diagnosis;
Landscape restoration is about working to “sustain ecological functions and improve livelihoods, at the scale of a landscape or ecosystem”. As a result, in any landscape program, the structure, architecture, functioning and status of “the Landscape” should be the priority scope for management actions.
In the Mano River Union, processes in the nine (9) transboundary river basins are the vital functions of the landscapes; their high conservation value forests, and fragile coastlines and mangrove are important priorities. Working on all biodiversity under threat and in need of protection; and with communities therein, in need of resilient livelihoods strategies, are the priorities of any LR agenda in the sub region.
Proving the LR concepts, unlearning some notions and adapting for change are important steps in innovation. For innovation that is beneficial to happen, practitioners of LR and ROAM across the region must continue to experiment, adapt and grow the concepts in a continuing, complex context of land use change and climate change.
For instances, specific cases in the benchmarks of the Mano River Union; e.g. more frequent, powerful flash-flooding in the Sahel; Information and Mangrove regeneration in the coastal landscapes; wildlife corridors and transboundary landscapes in terrestrial forests, are factors with ecological and livelihoods impacts. They will require new forms of analysis to produce new layers of information, with urgent and unprecedented implications for LR practice.
LR will benefit from, secure, long-term, sufficient, but incremental funding. Scale and a performance-based system are important requirements and provide opportunities for aggregation and motivation for participation by the private sector. For these reasons and more, public private partnerships are an appropriate mechanism for financing LR.
LR and ROAM applications are catching-up late in natural resources in the region. Therefore, two key next steps to consider are:
(i) To further the development and implementation of ROAM and Landscape restoration prototypes for three (3) benchmark ecosystems (x two replicates) backed by strong, coordinated capacity building and training for nationals and other participating experts.
(ii) Engaging with appropriate, strategic partners to conceive and apply appropriate tools, technologies (ROAM, Landscape Management Framework, GIS, Remote Sensing and Participatory Resource Mapping) to develop a livelihoods and landscape management information system. Such a system should comprise and serve as;
a. A repertoire for high-end ROAM and other map products; finished, costed restoration interventions, per hectare, for different benchmark sites; including links to the stories behind their outcomes pathways to appeal to potential investors and donors
b. A near-real time, information management system , on geo-referenced land use activities, threats to biodiversity; with capability for crowd-sourcing of information; and interacting with users.
Context of the analyses
The Mano river basin countries of west Africa comprise; Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. These four countries host most of West Africa’s remaining Upper Guinea forests, including fertile agricultural lands; some of them occurring in virgin forests; including numerous other natural resources. As a result of the region’s natural wealth and socio-cultural linkages with neighboring States, sister States countries like Burkina Faso (a non-MRU State) exports a considerable amount of human labour; notably southwards through the north western parts of Cote d’Ivoire, and into the richest west African forests of south eastern Liberia.
As a result of such connections, it is less meaningful to analyze human resource economics; land use, forest conversion to agriculture in the three Mano River Union States, without noting the strong influence of Burkina Faso. Therefore, land degradation and soil fertility loss in Burkina Faso, if coupled with sporadic insecurity, increasing population pressure and southwards migration tends to have a direct impact on the forest resources of the Mano River Union countries; more than cursory pundits can observe. Especially so because, as the Mano River countries struggle to recover from lost opportunities during many years of conflict, manual labour for agriculture is a resource Burkina Faso has a lot of.
Ghana another non-MRU State on the other hand, has historically been an influential country in west Africa; economically, politically and intellectually. Given recent instabilities in the four Mano River Union countries, Ghana became a magnet for regional investments, headquartering numerous international organizations. Significant lessons have also been learned in Ghana and are now being applied across the Mano River Union countries thanks to the former’s stability.
Therefore, this landscape restoration analyses and outlook, although focusing on the Mano River Basin countries, will include experiences from Burkina Faso as contribution to overall knowledge on perceptions of land degradation and restoration options for Drylands. Furthermore, it will draw deeply on Ghana’s experience, especially as Ghana was the West Africa regional “Guinea Pig” for the ROAM methodology. Ghana is also the first country with significant private sector involvement in landscape restoration.
This analyses and outlook is presented in four parts; (i) brief global, overview of landscape restoration; (ii) a brief presentation of the contexts of the Mano river countries; (iii) contextual introductions to, and definition of landscape restoration; and finally, (iv) an analysis of the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology applied across a “transect”; using (iv.1) a Drylands Experience (Burkina Faso); (iv.2) river basin forest ecosystems (three transboundary forest complexes), with the option of wildlife corridors; and (iv.3) coastal landscape complexes.
Landscape Restoration: an overview
In 2011, following meticulous and multidisciplinary analyses, four institutions came together to declare “A World of Opportunity” for global forest and landscape restoration. These institutions were, the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), the World Resources Institute (WRI), South Dakota State University (SDSU) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That declaration stated that; more than two billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes are likely to offer potential for restoration — a vast opportunity to reduce poverty, improve food security, reduce climate change, and conserve biodiversity (GPFLR, 2011).
In the same year (2011) the Bonn Challenge platform came into existence and set a target to restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2020. Later-on in 2014, the AFR100 or African Restoration Initiative platform was created in Paris and set a longer-term target to restore 350 million ha of degraded landscapes by 2030. Both platforms simultaneously contribute towards attaining numerous other existing international commitments with landscape restoration components, including; REDD+ and Nationally Determined Contributions (to the Paris Climate Agreement), under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This landscape restoration movement also promises action towards achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Target 15 on bringing at least 15 per cent of the world’s degraded ecosystems under restoration actions, by 2020; including meeting other international goals related to combating desertification and land degradation.
To provide thought leadership to the process, as well as a systematic framework for action, a handbook was developed by the leading organizations – the IUCN and the WRI, as a contribution to the GPFLR and the Bonn Challenge. This Handbook sets out the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) for conducting national or sub-national assessments of restoration potential (IUCN & WRI, 2014).
The Mano River Union context: the sub ecosystems, people and history
Since 2016 at least two major programs; the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change – WA BiCC (Supported by USAID), and the International Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project funded by GEF and executed by the IUCN, are engaged to support work on transboundary forests in the Mano River Basin. The four countries; Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire make up the Mano River Union (MRU) and are home to the last remnants of the unique Upper Guinea forests; nine river basin ecosystems, creating unique habitats for biodiversity.
The forest area and biodiversity are in decline as a result of small holder slash and burn agriculture, agro-industrial plantations, mining activities, including exploitation and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products (eros.usgs.gov, 2013; CEPF, 2015). The remaining Upper Guinean Forest ecosystem are today largely confined to four transboundary, High Biodiversity Value Forest (HBVF) complexes. These are (i) Sapo – Grebo -Taï and Cavally forest complex (ii) the Gola Rainforest complex of Sierra Leone and Liberia, (iii) The Ziama – Wolegizi -Wonegisi forest complex and (iv) the Mt. Nimba WHR-Diecke forest complex. These are the last remaining blocks of intact and semi-intact forest mosaics left in the entire Upper Guinean Forest ecosystem (CEPF, 2015). The remaining forest is highly fragmented, restricting habitats to isolated patches, and threatening the ecosystem’s unique species of flora and fauna. The four countries share extensive common borders with each other. These borders correspond to seven (07) out of nine (09) river basin ecosystems in the MRU (MRU, 2011).
• The River basins
The river basins of the Mano river basin are; (i) the great Scarcies – Kolenten (linking Sierra Leone and Guinea), (ii) Lofa (stretching into Liberia from the Guinean Highlands, (iii) the Mano, and (iv) Moa Makona (linking Sierra Leone and Liberia), (v) Little Scarcies (linking Sierra Leone to Guinea Conakry in the far west), (vi) Cavally (linking Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire), and (vii) Sassandra, being contiguous with the Cavally linking Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire. The remaining two river basins; (viii) Cestos and (ix) Saint John, have their entire upstream portions in the Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Conakry, respectively, with the bulk of their downstream, within the territory Liberia.
These river-basins are narrow-shaped and small-sized (22,000 km² and 320 km-long on average), and highly vulnerable to degradation (MRU, 2011). The key biodiversity hotspots are largely in their upstream catchments, whereas protected areas tend to concentrate downstream. Upstream furthermore, small holder agriculture land-use by resident populations constitute important drivers of landscape degradation and land cover change, often resulting to water quality and water quantity issues. Meanwhile, the downstream catchments report land use conflict issues, which may involve land use operations like mining, logging and agro-industrial plantations (MRU, 2011).
• Critical Biodiversity
At least three of the transboundary river basins habour High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF). On the Liberia – Cote d’Ivoire border, we have the Cavally – Tai – Grebo forests sitting on the Sassandra and Cavally river basins; on the Liberia – Guinea border, we have the Wologizi, Wonegizi and Ziama forests sitting on the Lofa river basin; and on the Liberia – Sierra Leone border we have the Gola Forest systems seating on the Moa, Mano and Lofa river basins. Some of the most threatened dry/wetland fauna species in the sub region include; the Pygmy Hippo, the Western Chimpanzee, the African forest Elephant, the Manatee, Sea Turtles and Dwarf crocodile; threatened flora include Pterocarpus, while threatened avian specie of note is the Africa grey parrot. The WA BiCC program is observing habitat loss and, degradation, especially water stress in drier parts, and land use/fragmentation in the high forests to be a major driver of species vulnerabilities. For these reasons, the long-term conservation interests of at least three (03) Big International Non-Governmental Organizations (BINGOs); Fauna and Flora International in the Wologizi, Wonegizi and Ziama; and Sapo: Royal Society for the Protection Birds, in the Gola Forests; and Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, in the Cavally – Tai – Grebo – Sapo forests, are tied to managing forest connectivity of these remaining transboundary river basin forests. Being a part of the architecture, health and characteristics of these forests, river basins, the biodiversity and other abiotic resources (e.g. water), are critical to the overall Mano River Ecosystem.
• Socio-economic drivers of land use change
With an annual population growth range of 2.2 – 2.6 % p.a., the combined population of the Mano River Union countries is estimated at 50 million (CIA Factbook, 2018). In the recent past, conflicts and health epidemics, have accelerated transboundary displacement of populations. These populations are mainly agrarian, although many are, artisanal miners, occupying upstream areas of watersheds. Strong agrarian pressures are also exerted through people migration, sometimes as far as from Burkina Faso , into Cote d’Ivoire and southwards into Liberia. The major land use activities across the river basins of the MRU countries include small-scale agriculture, small and large-scale mining (in Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leone), Timber extraction (in Liberia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire); extensive Tree-crop agriculture (All countries, including industrial plantations, in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire); with Cote d’Ivoire leading the world in Cocoa and Cashew. In addition to livestock grazing in the tree savannahs, natural and man-made bush fires are also major drivers of land use change in northern Cote d’Ivoire and parts of Guinea Conakry. These land uses individually and together, continue to exert significant impacts on wildlife habitats, landscapes connectivity and in some cases, compound the effects of climate change and negatively affects land productivity (Cote d’Ivoire ROAM, IUCN, 2016).
• Migration in the MRU and effect on land use change
The events of the recent past – such as armed conflicts and health epidemics, have influenced significant transboundary movements and displacement of populations. These have resulted in new farms, expanded settlements and many sedentary populations becoming destabilized, especially affecting the Sierra Leone Liberia; Liberia – Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire Liberia borders. Short term settlements also favoured short – medium cycle cropping, (slash and burn food crops, and other expedient land use practices) often closely associated with forest degradation. There is also a significant reported movement from Burkina Faso through Cote d’Ivoire and into the South Eastern forests of Liberia. Largely agrarian communities from Burkina Faso are already having significant impact on forest cover loss in parts of Cote d’Ivoire such as the Cavally – Tai river basins. Migrant workers from Burkina Faso are also active western Cote d’Ivoire such as in Soubre.
Developing better understanding of landscape degradation; its drivers, factors and consequences, is an important first step, in the landscape restoration processes – i.e., how to develop a holistic approach and strategies to mitigate, reduce and roll back degradation; and thereafter, manage and build overall resilience across sensitive habitats like river basin, watersheds and peripheries of HCVFs.
• Institutional differences in Forest Management approaches
Of the four MRU states, two (Sierra Leone and Liberia) have remnants of “Anglophone” heritage and the other two (Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Conakry), “Francophone. There can be noticeable differences in how forests and other natural resources are managed; and how partnerships between non-State and State authorities are governed within these two systems. Whereas the Francophone systems has strong underlying Jacobine traditions; tending to be very hierarchical, centralized, and based on; “all, natural forests belonging to the State” principle; the Anglophone system tends to be loosely Anglo-Saxon, more open, and apparently less hierarchical. With the changes in the forestry laws in Liberia, communities can manage up to 50,000 ha of forests. The discernible differences between the institutional arrangements makes for good lessons and does not make one system better than the other. The impact of these subtle differences can be seen during consultations, discussions and engagements on issues like co-Management and or say development of Wildlife corridors. Co-management and negotiating Wildlife corridors require enormous flexibilities, transparency and participation that tends to be more complex and difficult to achieve within a rigid than within a flexible system. However, once agreements are reached enforcement can be easier under the Francophone system.
Nevertheless, memorandums of Understanding on Transboundary cooperation, such as that between the Ministry of Forestry (Guinea) and the Forest Development Authority (Liberia) to manage the Transboundary forests; Ziama – Wologizi – Wonegizi represents important steps in formalizing Transboundary forest management. Long-term management approaches like landscape restoration, law enforcement, etc. can then be built and formalized on such processes; although long-term management would depend on collaborative management with all stakeholders.
Status quo for landscape restoration in the Mano River Union basin
Over the next five years, the MRU, her Technical and Financial partners will promote Landscape Restoration, rolled up into various environmental strategies; to regenerate and conserve terrestrial and other ecosystems, strengthen the institutions in-charge, and work to ensure economic and social development of local populations. This is according to the MRU recently approved 2020 – 2025 five-years strategic Plan. An important status quo which provides opportunities for landscape restoration in the river basins of the MRU is the degree to which restoration pledges have been made in the Union.
So far, a total of 9 million ha of degraded landscapes have been pledged by the MRU States to be brought under restoration. Given that only Cote d’Ivoire applied a national level Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology, the pledges can be considered as “proxy-representations” of the extent of perceived landscape degradation. The official Pledges by the MRU countries comprise; 5 million ha (Cote d’Ivoire), 2 million ha (Guinea Conakry), 1 million ha (Liberia) and 1 million ha in Sierra Leone. These proposals are typically sent in writing by relevant Ministries of these countries, to both the Bonn Challenge and or to the AFR100/NEPAD Secretariats.
Such mobilization for Landscape Restoration backed by a strategic plan is an excellent entry-point for the MRU Sates. Given the peculiarities of the river basins of the MRU as staging ground for landscape restoration we raise below a number theoretical and practical issues drawn from recent experiences with landscape restoration in the sub region and its environs. We hypothesis that irrespective of the conceptual robustness of a Technology or Approach, only through practice and rigorous learning can that technology or concept be made more effective as a practice.
Objectives of the analyses
The prime objective of these analyses is to help practitioners of landscape restoration in west Africa and the Mano River Union (MRU) transition from a traditional understanding of land use and natural resources management, to a dynamic one, of landscape restoration under complex, competing circumstances of conservation, production and livelihoods. Subsequently, it is expected that these analyses will help convince landscape managers in West Africa and the MRU to adopt landscape restoration, and its associated tools, not as a one-off methodology, but as a learning framework for landscape management effectiveness.
And so, we hypothesize that, “the learning process of Landscape Restoration, from theories to practice, always occur within a context of complexities. They comprise past, ongoing and planned restoration-type activities; and multiple land use projects implemented by numerous actors. They overlay various stakeholder interests, different time frames and impact diverse ecosystem goods and services. The learning process is thus facilitated by the presentation and analyses of existing knowledge, in a way that demonstrates; the proof of key concepts, a willingness to unlearn, and a readiness to manage expectations and outcomes in new contexts (with, Eugene Cole, KML Specialist, WA BiCC, 2019)”
A learning framework inspired by these considerations is outlined below;
Demonstrations of proof of concept: Appraisal of how and where the approach has been used is organized as follows;
a. Understanding Landscape restoration
b. ROAM: methodology, some outputs and outcomes
b. Burkina Faso
c. The MRU countries
Willingness to un-learn: Challenging some set notions; exploring alternative, complementary understanding and making rational adjustments to the approach:
a. ROAM: a methodology versus a framework;
b. The significance and dimensions of scale
c. Synergies between ongoing Project activities and landscape restoration, including providing answers to some questions like;
• What has happened, what’s going on and what are the synergies?
• What needs to be improved and how?
• When and how is a ROAM relevant, or not; why; and
• How can stakeholders be identified, engaged?
Managing expectations and change: Committing to manage the challenges, expectations and change which have been brought about by development and use of approaches; e.g.;
a. ROAM as framework for effective landscape management practice?
b. Dealing with Drylands – case of Burkina Faso
c. Supporting wildlife corridors and multiple use landscapes
d. Addressing the peculiarities of coastal landscape complexes
e. Financing options for landscape restoration, e.g. PPPs,
Conclusions: synthesis of knowledge, lessons and concrete next steps to take restoration opportunities and interventions to the required next level within the MRU.
Proving the concept: Appraisal of how and where ROAM has been used
Landscape restoration, ROAM overview and applications
• Landscape restoration
Future Terrains defines Landscape Restoration as the improvement of degraded land on a large scale that rebuilds ecological integrity and enhances people’s lives. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature – IUCN defines Forest landscape restoration (FLR) as an ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. The Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration – GPFLR co-launched in 2003 by the IUCN, defines Forest Landscape Restoration as a process that aims to regain ecological functionality and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes.
There is an emphasis on “forests” in the IUCN definition, whereas the GPFLR definition does not mention “forest” in the latter part. The Terrains definition focuses on Landscapes in general, not just forested ones. However, rebuilding ecological health and addressing livelihoods – two key elements in restoration are covered in all three definitions. Although REDD+ has required each participating country to define “forest”, a definition for restoration that goes beyond forest seems more appropriate for the MRU and surrounding countries.
• ROAM overview
For a full understanding of ROAM or Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology as conceived by the founding experts, to support landscape restoration, the reader is referred to the ROAM Manual (IUCN & WRI, 2014). Essentially, ROAM is a methodology that can be described in seven (08), consecutive steps, outlined below;
(i) Stakeholders analyses; these are generally all internal and external parties, actors and those affected by degradation or who stand to benefit from restoration. From communities, State Ministries to Technical and Financial partners interested in, supporting the restoration process or affected by the degradation process. These are the people whose knowledge needs to be used, interest served, and commitment secured, respectively.
(ii) Identifying priorities for restoration in the regions; the priorities refer to the full measurable extent; including perception of all conceivable dimensions of degradation (often in millions of Ha). Priorities can be mapped using resource persons with the best local knowledge (e.g., through participatory mapping), and best available technology and data (e.g. from Satellite imagery, aerial photos, etc.). Priorities are often expressed in restoration pledges.
(iii) Identifying opportunities for restoration in the regions; The opportunities on the other hand, refer to what can, be restored given the extent and dimensions of the degradation; available resources, competing interests on the degraded resources; including other constraints of feasibility and or relevance. Uncertain tenure, very high cost versus uncertain benefits; possibility for undesirable outcomes like conflicts etc., can all combine to render addressing a priority impractical and not feasible. As such it does not present an “opportunity” for restoration. Restoration opportunity is therefore, what can be achieved; “within the limits of feasibility”; costs, relevance, etc.
(iv) Identifying the most relevant and feasible restoration options across the regions; this refers to the range of restoration investments or actions that are both biophysically, economically and socially possible given the opportunities identified. For a given piece of watershed, both a monoculture Teak Plantation and or a mixed fruit tree-crops system may be options for restoration. What is eventually selected after considering costs, appropriateness (local acceptability, policy, etc.) or even markets, etc., becomes the intervention option.
(v) Costs and benefits analyses of restoration options; it is essential for the options to be costed both in financial, social (gender) and environmental cost terms; from identification of degradation drivers, to recommendation/choice of restoration options and interventions. A chosen intervention may be prejudicial to a local social group, just as it may lead to the disappearance of indigenous species and therefore, no longer a viable option.
(vi) Analyzing ecosystems (carbon) benefits of restoration; given its origins (partly a product of accumulated knowledge from the outset of REDD+ science 2008 – 2011), it is expected that landscape restoration will contribute towards enhancing carbon stocks under the countries NDC. Links to other processes like the Aichi/CBD Art. 15, etc. are additional ecosystems benefits of landscape restoration expected to come out of a ROAM process.
(vii) Analyzing finance and investment opportunities and constraints; this is an essential element of the landscape restoration process and can often be considered as a powerful determinant of opportunity – therefore, depending on the objective, is likely to be an important consideration of a ROAM exercise. With the growing interest by the Private Sector in Environmental Management this is a potential growth and opportunity area for the region. Restoration is a long-term investment. For this reason, we are increasingly seeing interest from Financial Institutions and from Private Capital through Public Private Partnerships.
(viii) Identifying policy and institutional bottlenecks and or enablers for restoration; these often goes beyond policies, although actions like pledges are important enablers of restoration. Important bottlenecks can include contested areas where either tenure is unclear or where prospection for minerals or wood products may be planned or ongoing. Generally, a national Pledge tends to provide excellent policy and institutional coverage for both national and sub national ROAM exercises.
The prime purpose of a ROAM is to prepare the ground for the best possible landscape restoration outcomes for nature and for people. However, establishing clear objectives before-hand is important to the process. Nevertheless, the roll-out of a restoration processes; sub national (not considering the entire country) or national, are rarely identical from country to country. They are often linked to some short term, medium- and or long-term outcomes and or deliverables.
• Some ROAM application in west and central Africa
Across central and west Africa (including within the MRU), ROAM has been used, or proposed to be used, to define restoration priorities, either on a national scale, such as in Ghana, Rwanda, CAR, Cameroon, and Cote d’Ivoire; or on a sub-national level, such as Burkina Faso, Burundi, DRC, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry and Liberia. Table 1 below is a non-exhaustive, overview of some ROAM implementations across west and central Africa.
Looking through the cases in Table 1, a few short-term goals of a ROAM have included, conferring to Governments the confidence to make a quantitative restoration pledge either to the AFR100 or the Bonn Challenge, in the hope of mobilizing technical and financial partners thereafter.
Our focus is on six countries, four of them, as the MRU. The other two; Ghana and Burkina Faso are included for specific reasons. Firstly, Ghana’s ROAM is a pioneer exercise, she shares a boundary with the MRU (Cote d’Ivoire), and lessons learned have had implications for the other countries. Secondly, Burkina Faso also shares a boundary with the MRU; is a Drylands context and demonstrates how learning at scale can be achieved through partnerships. There is also significant migration of labour from Burkina Faso, in to the MRU. For these reasons of proximity and possible impact on land use, Ghana and Burkina Faso are included in this analysis. Finally, the “fitness for purpose and synergies” of the ongoing GEF-MRU-IUCN ROAM on Transboundary landscapes of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone will also be reviewed. WA BiCC/TetraTech is directly involved through her support for the MRU and indirectly through grants provided to 03 Big International Non-Governmental Organizations working across the Transboundary landscapes. The significance of their work will be further discussed under synergies between ongoing Project interventions and landscape restoration.
1.1. Country cases: ROAM in Ghana, Burkina Faso and MRU trans boundaries
In these cases which follow below; from Ghana, Burkina Faso and the MRU countries, the WA BiCC/TetraTech project has been directly involved. The cases present different experiences covering national level ROAM with sub national applications, and Public Private Partnership involvement. They also demonstrate some foundations of a ROAM in Drylands and finally, issues to consider at the Transboundary river basin level.
GHANA (Ghana ROAM Report)
• After a ROAM and a Pledge: capitalization by the private sector in Ghana
Although her restoration pledge came in 2015, Ghana was one of the three “Guinea Pigs” of the ROAM methodology (the others being Rwanda and Mexico). She has to-date the only major Public Private Partnership example of Landscape Restoration in West Africa. The Ghana example of private sector investment in restoration demonstrates that, although knowledge of sub national restoration priorities generated through a ROAM are helpful as information, private sector investors can have specific needs that are more easily met by through association to central Government.
Ghana was used to put together the Road Test Edition of the ROAM Manual (IUCN & WRI, 2014). Although traditionally useful in getting countries to make Pledges, Ghana’s pledge came in 2015 although the ROAM was completed in 2011. The Ghana ROAM nevertheless teaches several important lessons.
Firstly, the Ghana ROAM is a good illustration of different success factors at the national and at the subnational levels. The national level Ghana ROAM (Ghana ROAM Report, Unpublished) identified 14 million ha of degraded landscapes as presenting good “opportunities” for restoration. 11 million ha of these were recommended for mosaic type, while 3 million, for wide-scale restoration. Partly as a result of the Ghana ROAM (2011), two major restoration interventions have been announced, with one well underway.
In March of 2017, the African Development Bank (AfDB,) and Climate Fund of the Forest Investment Program (CIF FIP), signed a US $24-million loan agreement with Form Ghana Ltd. This program for the Restoration of Degraded Forest Reserves through Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Plantations is the first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for landscape restoration in Ghana and in West Africa. The project will be backed by a US $10-million concessional loan from the FIP and supplemented by US $14 million in co-financing from the AfDB (AfDB, 2017). The project will establish 11,700 Ha of Teak (90%) and Indigenous species (10%) in degraded Forest Reserves.
It is worthy of note that although degraded parts of protected forests and other State forests are important components in landscape restoration, their restoration assessments don’t often require much in-depth analyses. This is largely because, their boundaries are often well known, largely uncontested, and the restoration options are invariably widescale.
Despite the lack of “ROAM charisma” of Forest Reserves/State forests, Private Sector Investors (like FORM Ghana) prefer over community-managed areas as opportunity to establish a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Degraded State Forests have four (4) key advantages: (i) the land tenure and boundaries are clear, largely uncontested, and State support is assured, with very minimal bottlenecks; (ii) the degradation dimension (loss of plant/tree biomass) is uncomplicated and easy to reverse; and thus (iii) the restoration option – reforestation is simple and straight-forward (90% Teak and 10% indigenous species) rendering silviculture practices and financial analyses efficient: and (iv) the arrangement is long term, enough for break- even and for risk management to be effective and low, respectively.
On the other hand, the restoration opportunities identified during the Ghana ROAM (2011) outside Forest Reserves are unlikely to be as straight-forward. For instance, in addition to the 11, 700 Ha of Forest Reserves currently under restoration, about 14,000 ha of degraded forest land has been acquired in Akumadan and Berekum, North of Kumasi, through a 50-year renewable land lease (Figure 2). Furthermore, a tripartite Commercial Benefit Sharing Agreements (BSA) between the Government of Ghana (GoGh), the local communities and FORM Ghana, has been worked out. The details on this phase remains sketchy. However, looking at the Ghana ROAM Maps for the Brong Ahafo and the Ashanti Regions, the opportunities for restoration in the Akumadan and Berekum regions can be identified. It is not yet known if the 14,000-ha identified by FORM for this Tripartite commercial BSA corresponds exactly to the restoration opportunities.
Nevertheless, this represents one concrete example where results of a national ROAM (at local level) is a subject of potential restoration investment by a major Private Sector entity. It would be interesting to monitor this case as closely as possible.
• After a Pledge: Foundations of a sub national ROAM in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a State in the Sahel and has pledged to restore 5 million hectares of degraded landscapes. The country is an important part of the Great Green Wall Initiative for Sub Saharan Africa, with note-worthy examples of farmer-assisted natural regeneration (Zai). She is a major source area for agriculture migrants driving land use change and degradation in the Cote d’Ivoire and increasingly, in Liberia. Analyses of degradation and restoration options in Burkina Faso demonstrates strong micro-level knowledge of both the problems of degradation, and restoration solutions, by a cross-section of stakeholders at the Commune Level. National and international level stakeholders also exist in the country with both interest and resources to support landscape restoration.
In 2018 Burkina Faso pledged to restore 5 million hectares of degraded landscapes through the AFR100 and the Bonn Challenge platforms. In 2019, through collaboration between the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project and SERVIR WA, a sub national ROAM process began in Burkina Faso. A sister project to the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project, SERVIR WA is a joint development initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). SERVIR WA works in partnership with leading regional organizations world-wide to help developing countries use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies for managing climate risks and land use. SERVIR WA is mandated to work in partnership with different institutions to address land use issues, among other responsibilities, including in Burkina Faso.
In June of 2019 a ROAM training workshop was organized in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In addition to Project Trainers and the US Agencies (NASA, SERVIR and USAID), several Burkinabe Stakeholders; notably; the Ministry of Environment, CNDD , ONDD , ISESTEL , BUNASOLS and six Communes namely; Communes de; Barsalogho, Bobo-Dioulasso, Dano, Leo, Ouarkoye and Yamba participated in the training. This sub national ROAM introductory session covered basic definitions, and participatory mapping of degradation priorities in six communes.
The WA BiCC/TetraTech Project and SERVIR WA, both USAID funded projects implemented by TetraTech ARD are hoping to build on this experience in 2020 by combining the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s ROAM know-how with SERVIR WA’s mapping capabilities.
Participatory, mental maps of “degraded” zones were developed by commune representatives during the training workshop and later incorporated into a GIS at the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project. Due to security issues in Burkina Faso, field work in the rural areas was not possible. As will be discussed later, under “Dealing with Drylands, Burkina Faso”; the commune participants did not only demonstrate detailed spatial knowledge of their communes, including different dimensions of “degradation”; they were also explicit about what the drivers, options for restoration; and who the major stakeholders are. The selection of the communes was deliberately done for purposes of geographic representation across the country; ensuring coverage of a range of degradation issues across different land use categories
Figures 4a to 4f are results of GIS-enhanced participatory maps developed by Commune representatives. They are a demonstration of the level of precision which can be achieved through community/mental mapping, based entirely on local, spatial knowledge. It also shows that, such fine-level knowledge can be consistent across the territory and not localized in any one part of the country. More will be shared about this mapping experience in Burkina Faso later-on in this analysis.
TRANSBOUNDARY ROAMS (Mano River Union countries)
• A fresh consideration: ROAM for strong sustainability in trans boundaries
“The Mano River Union States; Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry, share common boundaries with each other. Some of these transboundary areas are home to the remaining blocks of the diverse Upper Guinea Forests of West Africa. We hypothesize that, decades of transboundary land use dynamics, driven by security issues, isolated communities, cultural, social and economic exchanges between the countries; have connived to create ideal conditions for opportunistic land uses; many of which have resulted to significant ecological degradation, and negatively impacting livelihoods of communities”
Many years of armed conflicts, health epidemics, migration, settlements and new displacements, have helped shape and re-shaped land use across these transboundary landscapes. The MRU-GEF-IUCN IWMP co-funded by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project, developed a broad-based ROAM agenda that is being implemented across these landscapes. These landscapes are also sitting on river basin ecosystems. The High Conservation Value, Transboundary forests context, selected for the ROAM exercises, comprise of the following Transboundary areas and river basins; the Gola (Sierra Leone/Liberia border); Wonegizi-Ziama (Liberia/Guinea Conakry); Mount Nimba (Liberia/Guinea/Cote); and Tai-Grebo-Sapo (Cote d’Ivoire/Liberia) (see Figure 1)
The overarching objective of ROAM within the IWMP’s mandate is to strengthen the management of transboundary natural resources for sustained ecological benefits and improved livelihoods for communities adjacent to forests – basically to achieve strong sustainability where appropriate. The consideration being that, optimal spatial management measures are needed at transboundary areas. Landscape restoration is eventually, expected to play a transformative role in the livelihoods of the communities living in the forest area covered by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project; and will enable them to benefit from the ecosystem without damaging it (MRU, 2018).
Figures 5a to 5d1 & 5d2, depicts the scope and complexities of the Landscape characteristics of these Transboundary areas, as well as the inherent management challenges
Figure 5a: Mount Nimba, showing the Mount Nimba strict nature reserve (UNESCO site)
Firstly, Figure 5a is the Nimba Mountains and the Mount Nimba strict nature reserve. Although Mount Bintumani 6,381 feet (1945 m asl) is the highest peak across the MRU countries, at 5,748 feet asl (or 1,748 m asl), Mount Nimba is the highest peak in the region between the Gola forests and the Tai – Grebo complex. The implications are that land and or forest degradation in or around the Nimba reserve (a watershed) would negatively impact downstream areas as a result of connectivity enhanced by the hydrology and slope. Therefore, Nimba’s contributions to Liberia’s restoration pledge must give highest priority to steep slopes connected to the hydrological systems.
Secondly, Figure 5b above emphasizes the considerations of landscape connectivity between aspects of; hydrology, livelihoods interventions and HCVF. It depicts the density of the hydrology, and association with HCVF where biomonitoring and conservation actions are concentrated; and the catchment (red boxes) of where the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s livelihoods activities are concentrated.
The red rectangle to the left is the “range of HCVF” from the Gola complex through the Foya forests to the Wonegizi – Wologizi – Ziama transboundary forests. This is “a corridor-in-making” considered thus because, the 5 km (arbitrary) buffers around the forest blocks represents the scope of the ongoing ROAM exercise being undertaken by the MRU (Figure 5c below is a close-up of this range of HCVFs).
A successful restoration outcome, or; “sustained ecological benefits and improved livelihoods for communities”, will result in a “continuum” of forested areas under restoration (including their hydrological connections further afield) from the Sierra Leone part (through the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project /RSPB work in Gola), all the way to Guinea Conakry (through the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project /FFI work in the Wonegizi-Wologizi-Ziama). The WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s support goes way beyond maintaining ecological benefits in the HCVF, to implementing a wide range of livelihoods activities inside and outside this 5 km virtual buffer zone.
The expected restoration outcomes of these activities will be further discussed in this analysis. Finally, in such a multiple land use context, there is a high likelihood that, restoration opportunities will be of the mosaic category.
Figure 5d1 above depicts two scenarios;
• Tai – Grebo which presents opportunity for a “continuum” – or an ecological corridor based
on successfully “sustained ecological benefits and improved livelihoods for communities” occurring in the overlapping 5 km virtual buffers under a ROAM; and
• Sapo – Grebo, where a “dis continuum” is the reality, due to the lack of proximity and complexities between the HCVF, “unresolved” by the 5 km virtual buffer zones. Unresolved
because, it is the intention of some Technical and Financial partners to manage a corridor between Sapo and Grebo. Figure 5d2 is a rendering of such an effort through collaboration between the Liberian Forest Development Authority (FDA), the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) supported by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project and other partners.
Whereas, due to proximity between Grebo (Liberia) and Tai (Cote d’Ivoire) a corridor between the two would be strengthened by a ROAM, this is less likely (though not impossible) between Sapo and Grebo.
ROAM is built on local knowledge and the best available scientific information. From Figure 5d2(b) it is obvious there is no lack of information and that, the major land use challenge between Sapo and Grebo, may not necessarily be degradation; but overlapping, competing, even conflicting land uses. It can thus be said that, the Sapo – Grebo “dis-continuum” does not present the best conditions for a ROAM.
Degradation does not appear to be an overriding requirement between Grebo and Tai, (at least not based on any prior study) however, given that both countries have pledged to the Bonn Challenge and AFR100, and there are no obvious conflicting issues between them, a ROAM can further help fine-tune understanding of any opportunities for restoration which may exist between the two HCVF. This is more a case of using ROAM in a pre-emptive manner, to achieve strong sustainability.
Overview and conceptual instances of unlearning
ROAM is simultaneously, a new notion in resources management, and composed of old or previously existing components. It was put together as a methodology between 2011 and 2014. Although being currently tested around the world it has been so far, tied to landscape restoration. Given that association, the GPFLR, the Bonn Challenge and more recently, the AFR100 are important stakeholders. The methodology is underwritten by two major international organizations; the IUCN and WRI who authored and published the Road Test Edition of ROAM in 2014. As progress is achieved with ROAM, new knowledge is gained, and simultaneously some un-learning is experienced. As experts are trained and they begin to use ROAM more widely in different contexts, new circumstances are encountered that invariably questions the existing knowledge and some un-learning goes on.
One example of where some unlearning is occurring, even required, is in the definitions of landscape Restoration as discussed earlier. Whereas “forest” is more emphasized in forest-rich countries “landscape” tends to be so, in less forested areas, such as the Sahel. So, experts planning to work across west Africa for instance, are advised to be ready to unlearn Forest-centered ways of thinking and to embrace and emphasize Landscape aspects. This has consequences for the boundaries of the discipline as we will see further in this analysis.
Another instance is regarding what comes first: the restoration pledge or a national ROAM? In Cote d’Ivoire, a national ROAM prompted a pledge of 5 million hectares. Meanwhile in Burundi (Central Africa) a National pledge of 2 million helped mobilize World Bank funds for a sub national ROAM. Although debatable, restoration of degraded forest reserves in Ghana by FORM Ghana, does not appear to be directly linked to either Ghana’s pledge in 2015 or ROAM completed in 2011. The entire MRU sub region has pledged a total of 9 million hectares of degraded lands (5 of those from Cote d’Ivoire) to be restored through, both the Bonn Challenge and AFR100. Despite this, the most serious ongoing ROAM efforts, are the GEF/IUCN – supported transboundary efforts making only cursory references to the national pledges. Even here, it’s not yet clear what proportion of the 9 million hectares will be covered.
Unlearning in practice 1: ROAM as Framework for ongoing activities
If viewed beyond an instrument to execute the Bonn Challenge and AFR100, a ROAM is more than a methodology. Although its discipline remains landscape management, the objective is ultimately to help restore degraded/degrading portions of the landscapes. The process of getting there may involve one or more of; a high-level Political commitment; biodiversity conservation, habitat restoration, combatting fire; developing tree-based systems or many more, but all requiring a super-structure or framework around which to grow interventions.
Figure 3 below is an infographic summarizes the more limited relationship between a restoration pledge which can take considerable time, energy and resources; and a ROAM; compared to the more extensive, and complex process of achieving Landscape Restoration. Note that, whereas the ROAM can be the one-off action that kicks-off the process of landscape restoration, it is an important first step along the restoration process, during which many more disciples intervene. Nevertheless, the restoration process is effectively, an unravelling of a ROAM activity.
The ROAM is also a set of “expectations”, known before-hand, but which interact together over time, to deliver a restored landscape and improved livelihoods of communities. ROAM can therefore, be considered as a “model”, “a conceptual framework” or simply, “a framework”. This non-conventional perspective of a ROAM, suggesting that a ROAM can be used as “a set of rules, in a sequence”, to help guide the organization of information”, requires some amount of un-learning. It is the quintessential characteristic of a ROAM qualifying it as a “framework”; and one that is valuable in a context of past and ongoing activities aiming to deliver outcomes which are similar or identical to a ROAM. In such a scenario knowledge of a ROAM provides a clear framework of how existing activities can be arranged to solve ecological degradation and to deliver restoration outcomes in the specific contexts.
On the other hand, such a framework renders what may be missing in the sequence more evident; much easier to pin-point; just as, the actions needed to fill the identified knowledge/action gaps. The scenario just described, is precisely what’s going on in eight (08) transboundary river basins, where the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project is intervening in West Africa (Table 3). If we include interventions in the three (03) coastal landscape complexes (Table 3) and biological monitoring interventions in the ZWW and TGKS HCVFs, over a score of the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project interventions are ongoing across the transboundary river basins of the MRU and Ghana.
Table 3 is a mapping of the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s activities that seek to “sustain ecological benefits and improved livelihoods for communities” across these landscapes. By linking their potential Impact Pathways (IP) to how their outcomes can be measured (OM) their intuitive relationship with landscape restoration becomes more evident.
Table 3: Relationship between the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project Interventions and Restoration across 7 river basins, 2 High Biodiversity Value Forest Ecosystems and 3 Coastal Landscape Complexes
Unlearning in practice 2: Dealing with Stakeholders
Where stakeholders are already engaged in sustaining ecological functions and improving livelihoods, as is the case where a Project is already intervening in the landscapes (Table 3), it is more effective to use ROAM as a framework to strengthen outcomes, rather as a repetitive methodology to re-recommend outputs already under way.
The Project-supported actions/interventions in Table 3 are being implemented by different stakeholders, the same that are brought together during the early stages of a ROAM. Depending on how long such stakeholders may have been engaged with each other; with natural resources policies and problems; or with technical and financial partners in the landscape, so too are the different steps in the ROAM sequence likely to be useful in helping them organize their interventions for greater landscape management effectiveness.
For instance, in sub national ROAMs as are currently being implemented under the GEF-MRU-IUCN project, only a targeted range of stakeholders may need to be engaged for the actual ROAM consultations. Furthermore, a degraded or degrading part of the transboundary river basin ecosystem may well already be under some form of restoration. It would be a waste of resources; or even likely to create local resentment or conflict to awaken expectations by re-doing a ROAM/Stakeholder analyses ; or analyses of degradation drivers that may already be known. Does this mean a ROAM assessment is not necessary? No, but it means, there would be no need to repeat a Stakeholder Analyses as this would just increase the cost without adding any value. In fact, repetition may put-off some local stakeholders.
Nevertheless, in compiling the ROAM report existing stakeholder characteristics and interests would still need to be considered, including those engaged in restoration activities, but perhaps not directly consulted. If these stakeholders will be using the results of the ROAM later-on, to deepen the impacts of their activities they remain directly concerned, and actors in the landscape/ecosystem.
Unlearning in practice 3: The ‘restoration opportunities”
In ROAM theory the “opportunity” for restoration can be presented as a straight-forward quantity that emerges as the process advances, and as the “best bet area” for final investments/interventions. The practice of restoration is however, teaching us that, “restoration opportunity”, though the desirable quantity is becoming increasingly theoretical, even “transient”, and for very good reasons.
ROAM shares some similarities with land use planning and participatory local development planning. All three deal with scale and spatial planning in significant ways, while identifying investment priorities. A uniqueness with ROAM is the concept of “opportunities” for restoration.
In the case of Ghana for instance, 14 million hectares was identified as representing “Opportunities” for restoration. The first surprise was FORM Ghana’s preference for State Forests; a category of degraded forest that was almost left out of the ROAM exercise because options were pretty much well-known beforehand, and “widescale”. Landscape restoration is ongoing in different parts of Ghana, such as under the Great Green Wall Initiative for Sub Saharan Africa (GGWISSA) and others probably smaller scale like on farmers’ fields. However, so far, the FORM Ghana widescale restoration of forest reserves constitutes only 0.39% of the 3 million ha identified as opportunity under this category; so, why so little; and what’s going on with the rest?
Similarly, the commercial Benefit Sharing Agreements (BSA) between the Government of Ghana (GoGH), and the local communities pertain to 14,000 ha of a 11 million opportunity for mosaic restoration. This is 0.127% of the total assessed opportunity. This high profile, but extremely modest restoration efforts are certainly not the only ones happening. However, given what ‘a restoration opportunity” intends to convey, it is legitimate to re-assess why the “opportunity” earmarked remains so little .
In summary therefore, the ‘opportunity’ is at the heart of a restoration assessment and can be a moving target. Often smaller than the priority, it can be strongly influenced by social, economic, financial, market, political; even attitudinal factors. In an uncertain world of resource scarcity, competing interests, tastes and changing priorities, it may be more meaningful to view restoration opportunity as also a time-bound and non-static quantity, though a sought-after, and desirable quantity.
Unlearning in practice 4: Harmonizing understanding of landscape Restoration can broaden practice
As ROAM gains popularity through demand by various stakeholders across west Africa, dimensions of landscape degradation have in consequence, emerged or are been articulated for different ecological contexts. So, although the definition of forests emerged through the REDD+ process as a unifying, legalistic concept it did not blunt the intuitive understanding that people have of how forests differ from country to country. So, as emphasis on “forests” as a central feature in landscapes wanes, Landscape Restoration is increasingly understood as being all-inclusive in dealing with different types of ecosystems services degradation at the operational level. The robustness of the ROAM is thus further tested in consequence.
Restoration decisions are National Policy Statements; and landcover in west African countries are a mixture of vegetation types, much more than the narrowly defined notion of “forests”. The priorities for restoration are also often far removed from what are often referred-to as “forested areas”. Increasingly therefore, the ROAM, with its distinct steps or phases is emerging as an effective framework and entry-point for the “re-constitution of much more than land cover”; but of all three major functions of ecosystems; provisioning, service and regulatory functions; which can be lost or degraded through natural and or Man-induced actions.
It is therefore quite important that, in using ROAM, practitioners are aware that clients are expecting much more from restoration than just planting trees.
Unlearning in practice 5: The significance and dimensions of scale in Landscapes
The requirement for scale is explicit in the landscape restoration concept, because “landscapes” are understood to be “huge expanses of land”. However, “ecological functionality and services to human wellbeing” do not often require very large expanses of land. Nevertheless, there is tacit agreement that, for an activity or intervention to be legitimately considered “landscape restoration” it must necessarily respond to a dimension of scale. This is so because, consideration of scale is both important and deliberate. Firstly, in the way scale helps differentiate ecological functionalities in space (e.g. upstream/downstream; and secondly, in the way scale sets ‘landscape restoration” apart from other sustainable land uses or spatial planning processes which can be more limited in scope; e.g., village or local development plans.
Given the importance of scale, we can ponder the legitimacy of the following questions:
a) Would on-going restoration-type activities within the MRU, such as individually owned Agroforestry tree crop fields, Mangrove regeneration and replanting plots, etc.; which address important issues such as; localized wave protection, biomass energy and other livelihoods needs, qualify as de facto restoration activities?
b) Should a spatially limited restoration intervention scale, disqualify an activity from being legitimately considered and or monitored as a “restoration” activity?
Arguably, respective answers to the questions should be Yes to (a) and No to (b) under certain conditions. However, the two cases outlined below present contexts where relatively small-scale activities should be able to qualify as landscape restoration interventions in the conceptual sense:
c) Where evidence exist that, areas coming under restoration are being monitored and or are a part of the accounting for a national restoration commitment, possibly backed by a Pledge.
All four MRU countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire), acknowledging the scale of degradation across their territories have made formal pledges to restore up to 9 million hectares of degraded landscapes. All types of restoration activities begin small then attain larger extents and scales. Even then, ecological functions previously degraded or lost, may take many years to become noticeable, and can often happen far away (downstream) from the site of activity (interventions). Therefore, when an activity is being monitored, as part of a bigger whole (e.g., as part of national accounting, supporting a Pledge), and or is evaluated (performance), to show its contribution to wider benefits (at landscape scale); such as reducing pressure on a degraded protected area, or facilitating connectivity between two protected areas, then such an activity should be considered as a “landscape restoration activity”; for it is more about what the activities seek to achieve at that scale, rather than the individual activities themselves.
d) When the spatial disposition of restoration activities (interventions) under implementation in a landscape (such as following a restoration opportunities assessment methodology) reflects the geo-spatial characteristics of degradation.
Scale as considered under landscape restoration also refers to the disposition, interconnectedness, ecological and spatial relationships between areas where ecosystem products and services are to be restored; versus areas under restoration activities or interventions in the landscape. Therefore, restoring a relatively small 2,000 Ha sacred forest, which connects two protected areas; sitting on a watershed; supplying fresh water to a town; and located upstream to fish spawning grounds in a coastal zone, is relevant to the surrounding landscapes, thanks to the products and services that its restoration helps deliver; or facilitates recovery or regeneration of. For such reasons, geo-spatial location of restoration interventions may be more critical to a landscape than the total area (ha) of the restoration activity.
Landscape restoration and change
Landscape restoration principles and practices are raising expectations as effective ways and entry-points for sustainable management of landscapes across the MRU and West Africa. The specific experiences of the Project show expectations from restoration and its assessment tool – ROAM, rising; in the drylands (Burkina Faso); across transboundary forest landscapes and river basins; as a decision-making tool for wildlife corridors; a tool to assess opportunities for restoration in coastal landscape complexes, and a mechanism that aligns well with Public Private Partnerships as a mechanism for resources mobilization. As we learn from these different contexts, our knowledge of their specificities will help us better manage the expectations that stakeholders may have. We share a few notable experiences below.
Dealing with Drylands – Burkina Faso
In a context of extreme weather events occurring under a possible changing climate, the notion of “opportunity for restoration” – a central facet of landscape restoration, becomes ever more germane. In drylands, Landscape degradation increases the likelihood of weather phenomenon becoming more unpredictable and more destructive. One example is the increased frequency and ferocity of flashfloods metamorphosed from “ordinary” floods. As information systems improve, so too should predicting biophysical pre-conditions and location of possible flashfloods; and opportunities for early landscape restoration action, so that the curve of flood characteristics is bent away from the likelihood of flash floods, and back towards normal flooding, and or no flooding.
A central tenet of ROAM is “integrating high-quality local knowledge and the best available science”. It is through this combination and overlaying of information; of knowledge, that the ROAM process can best lead us towards best-bet and, most viable opportunities for restoration or for “sustaining ecological benefits and improving livelihoods for communities”. Our experiences in Burkina Faso enables us to make the following observations:
Landscape degradation is very significantly associated with Soil fertility issues
Communities demonstrate consistent and exceptionally precise knowledge of locations and distribution of degraded landscapes.
Flash flooding emerged as a significant hazard to lives and livelihoods (including prone areas being subjected to higher disaster insurance premiums). As a result, the pre-conditions, enablers and aggravating conditions for flashfloods are important factors to be considered in a ROAM exercise.
Landscape degradation is identified in drylands as an aggravating factor of flooding. However, the characteristics and location of the degradation, determines whether a flood is likely to be an ordinary one, or a more destructive flashflood.
Therefore, given resource scarcity, opportunity for restoration should consider, amongst other factors, overall benefits of the interventions; such as cost benefits analyses of preventing flashfloods in the long term versus loss of short-term crop production, etc.
Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration – FMNR (Zai, etc.) is a significant restoration option in Burkina Faso, and in the African drylands. It is a standalone knowledge product that needs to be taken very seriously in landscape restoration programs.
The Transboundary landscapes management challenge
Unlike the transboundary river basins, national frontiers, per se, in the MRU and elsewhere, are not ecological entities, but political symbols with socio-economic significance. The contribution of the dynamics around national frontiers to learning about landscapes remains important. So, actions to restore ecological function around transboundary areas must recognize the interaction of political, socio-economic and ecological dimensions. Achieving this requires that relevant datasets be acquired in the completeness. This so because, some aspects of landscape restoration in transboundary areas will recognize existence of a political frontier; while other important ones may not.
de facto ecological entities to be considered in their completeness in transboundary areas include biodiversity continuums and hotspots (e.g. habitats or migratory routes for fauna), watersheds like Mount Nimba or any one of the 07 river basins in the MRU, where the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project is implementing activities.
Furthermore, given differences between how Francophone and Anglophone States manage Protected areas there is unlikely to be real harmonization across frontiers anytime soon. Resource management tactics such as protection and or livelihoods strategies used as a restoration intervention, must therefore, respond and adapt to both political practicalities, and to eco-scientific logic.
For instance, it is necessary to map the policy landscape of national frontier zones, as a distinct layer of information, with the physical frontier considered only as an ‘object’ of information; and not mix it up with ecological entities.
A ROAM in an international frontier area, is likely to raise expectations well beyond what is necessary for landscape restoration. Keeping the potential for social, cultural or political conflicts low, is key. Ecological aspects of national frontiers must be the emphasis. Even where such frontiers are water bodies, as is often the case (e.g. Liberia with Cote d’Ivoire, or with Sierra Leone) the river basin, watershed or landscape perspective must trump the political geography.
In the specific case of the Gola – Foya – Wonegizi – Wologizi – Ziama, a successful ROAM will help actions to sustain ecological benefits, strengthen the connectivity in the transboundary river basin forests, and improve livelihoods from Sierra Leone, through Liberia into Guinea (Figure 5c). A similar situation presents itself in the Nimba Mountains (Figure 5a) but this time, between Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea Conakry; and between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire (Figure 5d1) for the Grebo and Tai, impacting ecological benefits and livelihoods in the Cavally and Sassandra river basins.
Currently, high-level collaboration, including in some cases, Memorandums of Understanding, exists between the Forestry and Environment Services of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Cote d’Ivoire. The ongoing ROAM exercises funded by the GEF is being implemented under the aegis of the GEF/IUCN/MRU. Unfortunately, the “distinct States’ prerogative appeared to have prevailed in teaming arrangements, as separate country ROAM teams have been constituted. These teams only work as far as their national frontiers, with the subsequent country teams doing same on the other side of the frontier. From an ecological perspective; river basins, biodiversity or watershed, such an approach is likely to miss the “big picture” – or the landscape perspective, which is a central element in a ROAM.
It can be hypothesized that, by submitting to the “distinct State” prerogative; where political limits take precedence over ecological continuity (landscape, eco-region, river basin or watershed perspective), the “transboundary” argument is somewhat defeated. Ideally, under the auspices of the MRU, multi-country, multi-disciplinary teams should have been constituted to perform the mapping and associated landscape analyses.
However, all hope is not lost. Provided good quality, participatory mapping is performed on either side of national frontiers; to be strengthened by appropriate use of remotely sensed data and Geographic Information Systems, the Transboundary dimension of the spatial analyses can still be redeemed.
Furthermore, transboundary spatial analyses even in socially and politically connected entities can be sensitive, and complicated. Broad-based consultations and preparations, likely to be time-consuming and costly are required. Therefore, using desktop approaches to correct missing landscape perspectives is more reasonable than repeating the ROAM exercises even where adjacent transboundary maps are unavailable. Finally, given that a “restoration opportunity itself is at best a “moving target” there is occasion in the future to perform new analyses to fill any gaps observed in the current work.
ROAM supporting wildlife corridors in multiple use landscapes
Wildlife corridors can be migratory routes for fauna species or ecological connections for flora gene transmissions, such as via pollinators. Promoting functional diversity and interconnectivity are to landscape or ecosystem management, as species richness and habitat protection are to protected area conservation. Landscape management then seeks to connect habitats, enabling functional diversity to play its ecosystem role of ensuring diverse responses to stressors and shocks, thereby strengthening resilience, sustaining life, livelihoods and human-ecosystem adaptation. So, to the extent that a ROAM can assist landscape managers determine where and how to address degradation of functional diversity, so too can a ROAM support concepts like wildlife corridors in multiple use landscapes.
As a framework for action which provides options and choices, the ultimate purpose of a ROAM is identifying ‘best bet” locations for sustaining ecological function and improving livelihoods. As a result, while a ROAM can support the functioning of wildlife corridors, it is far-fetched to expect it to deliver wildlife corridors by itself.
For instance, the envisaged “wildlife corridors” across the MRU are multiple use landscapes that include habitats in HCVFs, and a mosaic of land uses comprising of community forests, forest concessions, mining concessions, agroforestry mosaics, protected areas, agro-industrial plantations, etc.
Considering Figure 5c; with minimal management constraints across 5 km overlapping peripheral zones, the HCVF continuum (a, b, c, d, e) from Gola in Sierra Leone via Liberia, to Ziama in Guinea Conakry, already presents opportunity for a viable transboundary wildlife corridor. On the other hand, the HCVFs in Figure 5d1 (f, g, h), do not depict an equivalent opportunity for an automatic transboundary wildlife corridor. As a result of this greater difficulty here, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, and the Liberian Forest Development Authority, with Project resources, are engaged in the efforts depicted in Figures 5d2 a and b. This effort shows a complex landscape comprising of Timber Concessions, Conservation areas, possibly mining and Agroforestry mosaics between the Sapo National Park, the Grebo (on the Liberian side), and Tai National Park in Cote d’Ivoire.
Given these existing land uses it is plausible that “a Conservation zone” (CFMA Conservation, Figure 5d2 b) appears to have a good potential to “connect” Sapo and Grebo. With the “heavy-lifting” almost completed through land use planning, there is a minimal advocacy case that a ROAM can make for connecting the two blocks of CFMA Conservation, and complete a transboundary wildlife corridor from Sapo, to Grebo and across to Tai National Park in the Cote d’Ivoire.
The bigger point being made here is that, the appearance of land use conflict does not present excellent opportunities for a ROAM. But as the conflict diminishes and the ultimate vocations for the land are determined, the value of ROAM as a tool to help sustain ecological function and improve livelihoods, so a proposed corridor can better serve its purpose to connect the ecosystem, and support human lives, becomes more likely and viable.
Restoration considerations for coastal landscape complexes
“Restoration of coastal landscape complexes is a newer phenomenon to the ROAM process. However, the same general principle of ‘best-bet’ conditions for sustaining ecological function and improving human wellbeing, apply. Coastal complexes are exposed to wave actions and sea level fluctuations so they would be susceptible to climate change effects on maritime dynamics. Furthermore, given the harsh ecological conditions of salinity; relatively lower floral diversity compared to some terrestrial ecosystems, human subsistence can be precarious. These natural, human and climate change induced factors, can induce some specific knowledge requirements, and land use practices, for successful restoration in coastal landscape complexes”
Recall that, assessing ‘best-bet’ conditions for sustaining ecological function and improving human wellbeing, are at the heart of landscape restoration. We use below, some lessons from the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s work in the Fresco landscape, Cote d’Ivoire, and from the Sierra Leone coastal Landscape complex, (CEISEN, 2018), to illustrate viewpoints for landscape restoration practice. Our knowledge base also draws on reviews of comparable works (Machin & Lewis, 2013). Against these backdrops, we discuss three sets of circumstances, to share perspectives for optimum landscape restoration awareness and practice in coastal landscape complexes. The first set is the scale and the ecosystem/landscape significance of restoration. The second, is the physico-chemical context; coastline dynamics and water quality, in relation to restoration practice; and the third pertains to coastal livelihoods and their relationship to restoration awareness.
• Scale, ecosystem or landscape significance of restoration.
Scale illustrates how functional diversity can interact to build resilience in terrestrial ecosystems. In coastal landscapes, scale demonstrates the contribution that targeted landscape restoration (e.g., inland upstream) can make towards enhancing water quality (salinity) and sedimentation (development and positioning of mudflats) – two factors with known impacts on natural and human-induced regeneration of Mangroves.
Figure 6 above is a rendering of the Fresco coastal landscape, Cote d’Ivoire. The cartographic interpretation of forest degradation is based on almost 2 decades old data on the Cote d’Ivoire . It depicts human induced degradation of forest reserves, and the likelihood that hydrological actions (river flow), soil erosion, transportation and sedimentation from upstream, will impact the Fresco lagoon downstream. As a result of such a spatial relationship the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s coastal resilience project in the Cote d’Ivoire, very wisely considers formally integrating, management of the Lagoon and both the Okoromodou and Port Gauthier forest reserves, as crucial to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Fresco area. Landscape restoration therefore, has a predetermined entry-point here – upland. Any ROAM or assessment exercise for restoration must take these upstream – downstream considerations to be very important in determining opportunities for restoration.
On the other hand, the conception of the Sherbro Marine protected area in Sierra Leone as depicted below is different. It did not previously, in an explicit way, portray strong upstream/downstream or inland/coastal spatial relationships between the lagoon and upstream areas, probably facing degradation. Current work by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project however, is mapping Chieftaincies, inland in order to better develop a broader landscape perspective. This does not mean by either not visualizing such a relationship; or by working to establish one, a pre-determined outcome is envisaged. The purpose of current work is anticipatory and based on the precautionary assumption that, should such a relationship, integrated management will be facilitated.
So, new land use zones are being identified and mapped inland by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project, e.g. mines, although these are not yet (officially) part of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) plan (such as the perspective of the Fresco Landscape). It is important that these connections and their implications for natural or human-induced restoration of mangroves are established. One way to achieve this later, is to envisage incorporating such considerations into the official Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the Sherbro Marine Protected Area. Given that this site is being proposed for a RAMSAR site, upstream areas (the Chieftaincy domains) could be designated under specific management regimes to support such a proposition.
Dynamics of coastal complexes, water quality and relationship with restoration opportunity
In purely terrestrial contexts, restoration opportunities can be uncertain, even elusive due to varying factors like national policies, stakeholder priorities, demand for new products/commodities, changing markets and fluctuating costs. So, restoration questions can include what, where and even if to invest for optimum landscape impacts, for people and for nature. However, whereas the consequences of making sub optimal choices for restoration in most terrestrial landscape are less dire, sub optimal choices or lack of awareness/information in coastal areas can be catastrophic.
For instance, in terms of physical factors; wave action can uproot propagules, even debris in water can uproot propagules. The changing positions of mud flats affects distribution and redistribution of sediments and consequently the danger posed to planted propagules that may be submerged and killed. The elevation of the shelf or bank where planting is intended; and likelihood that it may be submerged for extended periods is also a factor determining if propagules will survive or not. Therefore, secondary data or local information from participatory analyses which provides answers to these questions and issues are critical to restoration assessments; and to the extent that such information can be mapped will also strengthen he knowledge base.
The gradient of salinity of water, and the salinity tolerance thresholds of the mangrove Species are also important considerations. More salt-tolerant mangrove species would tend to be planted where the water is more saline. In general, water toxicity can be influenced by inland activities, such as agriculture, mining or other activities.
In terms of physical disintegration, different coastlines have demonstrated different levels of fragility. As a result of changing tidal levels and retreating coastlines, determination and mapping of opportunities for restoration in coastal landscapes must systematically piece together available information over time, including historical information, for each local context. So, unlike for terrestrial contexts where opportunity maps for restoration can remain fairly stable and valid for extended periods after they were developed, the same cannot be said for coastal areas.
Restoration for improved community livelihoods in coastal complexes.
Besides helping to sustain ecological functionality by supporting natural or human induced regeneration of mangroves, restoration approaches in coastal complexes must also be responsive to livelihoods. Providing support requires understanding of the nature of livelihoods strategies; opportunities and constraints. the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s work highlights a number of key elements, comprising; a requirement for information, especially climate information; technical silviculture skills for nursery development and plant propagation; how to cope with relatively low floral diversity with potential to negatively impact diversification of livelihoods options; the overly focused livelihoods on what the sea provides; and relationship between the over-dependence on the sea, and mangrove degradation (e.g. need for biomass energy for smoking sea products).
A coastal landscape best practices review (CEISIN, 2018) identified climate information and its impact on livelihoods to be amongst the top most important needs by people. The more real-time the information, the more relevant it would be to livelihoods. This implies that, a climate information system could be made spatially explicit by integrating it with a Land Use information system, with possibility for getting participation (feedback and even reports) by communities. As a product of a landscape analyses process, such a product can also be used as a monitoring system.
As mentioned under water quality, salinity is a major constraint to both mangrove regeneration and or to silvicultural activities. Nursery activities are investments with financial implications for communities. The pathway from germination of propagules to planting out is especially precarious in coastal areas as young plants must be protected from saline water, as well as from domestic and wild fauna.
Finally, coastal livelihoods are overly dependent on the sea. With inadequate alternative forms of energy, such as electrical power for refrigeration, smoking is the most cost-effective method for preserving many sea products for later, and for the market. The ability of mature mangroves to survive salinity makes them the overwhelmingly dominant flora in the context and therefore the principal source of wood biomass to smoke sea products – the main source of livelihoods. These direct relationships may have created susceptibilities; however, many of these coastal communities have subsisted on these dynamics for decades, even centuries. It thus appears that threats to coastal ecosystems, and a need for restoration strategies emanates more from a need to better understand/communicate with, the context; and better adjust to its dynamics, with the goal of better managing change. One way would be, monitoring new “energy inflows” (all that comes in through activities by man; upstream eutrophication, sedimentation, plastics, population growth, information, etc.) and “energy outflows” (what’s taken out, such as wood, wildlife, migration, etc.)
Financing Landscape Restoration; case study
The role of PPP-type financing
Although for the most part, Landscape restoration generates environmental public goods, the immediate benefits can be both private and public. The scale of investments, long timeframe and public dimensions of the benefits make landscape restoration a good candidate for Public, Private, Partnership arrangements. Outstanding challenges however, pertain to how to ensure the right incentives are in place for private entities, and performance metrics, explicit enough, to serve as basis for long-term engagements.
There is no one widely accepted definition of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). The PPP Knowledge Lab defines a PPP as “a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance”. Historically, PPPs are long-term contracts where the private sector designs, builds, finances and operates an infrastructure project .
PPP is nevertheless, an attractive notion, rapidly gaining in popularity, and one that is particularly relevant to landscape restoration. An increasing number of countries are enshrining a definition of PPPs in their laws, each tailoring the definition to their institutional and legal particularities.
Our analysis will not seek to align or limit PPPs to the letter of the Law in any one country. We are aware our constituency have their own understandings of PPPs. So, our intention here is to enable appraisal of different partnership arrangements encountered in practice, against a gradient of factors drawn from PPP orthodoxy. We use Project’s experience and environment, as well as notions of landscape restoration, to illustrate how partnerships between public, private and community entities; and even with markets, can help deliver restoration for people and the planet. In fact, we argue that, because of the shared, complex ecosystems benefits and challenges of landscape restoration, PPP-type arrangements are the most ideal mechanism for mobilizing required material and human resources. Below, we analyze some PPP-type relationships, where Project has either shown interest or been involved; and which holds potentials to support landscape restoration.
Private sector development of State Forests in Ghana.
• Government of Ghana – FORM Ghana partnership: The project to establish 11,700 Ha of Teak
(90%) and indigenous species (10%) in degraded Forest Reserves in Ghana, is the first major PPP-type arrangement for landscape restoration intervention in Ghana and in West Africa. This was established in March of 2017; 6 years after the ROAM and 2 years after Ghana pledged to restore 2 million hectares of degraded landscapes. The project commenced with US $14 million in co-financing from the African Development Bank, and a $10-million concessional loan from the Climate Fund of the Forest Investment Program (FIP). This direct reforestation project is focused on previously degraded State forests with minimal risks of conflicts with local people.
There is however, keen interest regarding how FORM will manage the 14,000 ha of degraded forest land, acquired in community areas around Akumadan and Berekum, North of Kumasi, in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. Reforestation, even with minimal diversity is a welcome intervention. Monitoring data regarding the ecosystem significance and geo-locations of the restoration of the forest reserves remains scarce, and some action is needed there.
Furthermore, as a PPP- inspired project, the community lease of 50 years, long enough, given the nature of the crop, is a strength. Important lessons of governance will subsequently be learned from the envisaged tripartite Commercial Benefit Sharing Agreements (CBSA) set-up between the Government of Ghana (GoGh), the local communities and FORM Ghana, with respect to long-term use of the 14,000 ha. However, for the relationship to move more positively along the gradient of “ideal” PPPs FORM Ghana must be seen to significantly invest and perform, outside and beyond its regular business remit. For the moment, it is argued that more can be done to the program’s PPP credentials by moving beyond the “business as usual” approach to reforestation (despite the 10% indigenous trees quota).
Pro bono technical assistance:
• CASE STUDY 1: The Pyxera / IBM – AbC partnership: In 2017, Pyxera, an enterprise catalyst, NGO
based in Accra, Ghana helped facilitate a partnership between the US company – IBM Inc., and the Resource Center of the Abidjan Convention (AbC) – a Inter-governmental entity and partner of the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project.
A well-functioning Abidjan Convention delivers environmental public goods or global benefits such as coastal and marine biodiversity conservation, restoration of degraded mangroves, and improved coastal livelihoods. In this instance, IBM provided “pro bono” technical expertise and materials to the AbC. The main reason which can be advanced for this partnership, is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Public Relations (PR); and the choice of AbC as the beneficiary, was purely opportunistic, based on the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project’s networking skills. This renders the partnership somewhat dependent on solicitation and less sustainable. Furthermore, even a well performing AbC has no obvious or direct interdependence with IBM Inc. For instance, if IBM Inc. were a private Shipping Company, a private Maritime Logistics Company, or Fishing Company, then Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) – which is an investment priority of the AbC, can then be directly linked to quantifiable benefits to a private company; and quid pro quo with the AbC will be mutually beneficial. And thereafter, only a long-term mutually beneficial relationship; even based on some form of “engagement” would strengthen such a PPP-type relationship.
However, a strength in this type of PPP-type relationship is that IBM’s “pro bono” services were outside or additional to its normal course of doing business.
• CASE STUDY 2: Pyxera/3M – Project 1; conceived in 2019 to go into fruition in 2020, the
subject matter here is a PPP – type relationship, co-facilitated by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project and Pyxera, between 3M – a US Conglomerate, (working on Industry, worker safety, health care, and consumer goods); and Project 1 (a the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project grantee), and not-for-profit handcraft association, based in Ghana. GM works in partnership with State-Supported Management Entities, the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) in the Lower Volta River basin ecosystem, south eastern Ghana. The role of the CREMAs in the coalition is facilitated by the Nature Conservation Research Council (NCRC) – a nonprofit organization.
The proposition in this PPP-type relationship is that, 3M experts on company Sabbatical, will commit paid-time towards providing pro bono technical assistance to help GM develop its upstream supply chain of environmentally-friendly raw materials, by (i) developing new products, (ii) new partnerships and (iii) via appropriate messaging. The GM business model is unique, simple and successful; and based on appealing to an inner, sense of responsibility in consumers, by using the full story of the product development; human and environmental benefits, to market the products.
An important group of beneficiaries in the value chain of the current GM “fibers for Change” p
roject, are riparian communities living in the degraded forest areas along the lower Volta Basin ecosystem, near Akuse, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The main raw material in this chain is the invasive water Hyacinth plant in the Volta river. Direct benefits of a successful GM in this venture would include improved livelihoods of riparian communities, recovery of ecological functions of the Volta river and better management and restoration of degraded landscapes.
Here too, there is absence of a direct relationship between 3M’s technical assistance and its business model; enough to build a long-term relationship between them and GM. The ideal scenario for sustainability, would be to seek a private company whose business model is more directly linked, either through their value chain or within the landscape, to that of GM.
CASE STUDY 3: PPP-type Catalysis for Small Projects:
From the outset, though picking up considerably in recent times, Project are catalyzing partnerships and or association between nonprofit and for-profit micro-enterprises and small businesses. Such is also being encouraged between different nonprofits, but with complementary areas of focus; supporting them to jointly engage in economically profitable activities with beneficial ecosystem impacts. Three of such organizations can be considered under a PROJECT Scenario; Project 1, Project 2 and Project 3 are described in Table 3 much earlier in this report. By analyzing the impact pathways of their activities and deliverables, an intuitive relationship with restoration is thus established.
However, additional, important lessons are expected from these PPP-type initiatives with potential to strengthen ecosystem services, including through reduced degradation. However, right away, some of their most important weaknesses and opportunities include the following;
Time-frames: the longer the time-frames the better the chance that a PPP-type initiative will build incentives for the private sector. Therefore, longer term projects and initiatives would tend to be more attractive to the private sector, especially as environmental benefits invariably take a long time to materialize and be evaluated. Longevity also gives private sector partners the lee-way to offset start-up investment costs and manage risks.
Size of the Investment: The bigger the commitment, say by the public sector, the more likely it is for a forward-looking private sector entity to engage. One way to circumvent the problem of size is to encourage aggregation of small entities (such as Project’s micro businesses and enterprises) with similar goals to coalesce according to some appropriate model. Such a strategy has not yet been tried in the landscape and may require creativity, outside the comfort zones of many donors. To facilitate this however, requires making the agglomeration and ecosystems case; by first properly situating investments across a landscape and being more explicit about what ecosystem, services are being addressed. It should then be feasible, through spatial analyses and ground truthing to establish how connectivity in the landscape and the micro-business will support to raison d’être of the landscape investments. It will nevertheless, require time for such a system to be put in place and tested.
Finally, PPP-type investments that generate environmental public goods do not characteristically exhibit the linkages between high initial capital investment requirements and strong demonstrable performance commitments of traditional PPPs. Building green infrastructure through various forms of landscape restoration; afforestation, reforestation, natural regeneration, etc. is a slower process which can be successfully initiated piece-meal at relatively low-cost. They may however, not be individually attractive to the private sector unless incentives such as aggregation in space is done, and other steps can be taken.
Other Financing models
Two other forms of financing landscape restoration have been encountered and or are under implementation within the MRU. These are (i) the Grants; e.g. the GEF grant to the MRU with IUCN as executing agency; the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project grants to Big International NGOs (BINGOs) working across the MRU landscapes and (ii) more localized Pay-for-work financing in the Sierra Leone Coastal landscape Complex.
A range of restoration-type interventions supported by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project across river basin ecosystems and High Biodiversity Value Forest are described in Table 3. These interventions are supported through grants to BINGOs provided by the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project. An attempt has also been made in Table 3 to describe the Geo-location (spatial disposition) of these activities and thereby, deduce a part of their landscape or ecosystem contribution through connectivity. However, more concerted work needs to be carried-out to understand and domesticated the phenomena of landscape connectivity and impacts; including an evaluation of the scope of interventions/activities required to achieve a desired impact.
The Pay-for-work model was tried-out in the degraded mangrove areas of the Sierra Leone Coastal Landscape Complex. The purpose of the Pay-for-work in the SLCLC was not to finance restoration per se; although payments served as incentives for local participation. It was intended to facilitate first stage establishment of mangroves to facilitate progressive colonization and natural regeneration.
Nevertheless, through the Pay-for-work scheme, some important lessons were learned. The first is the extremely high cost of not properly targeting mangrove restoration – through a robust opportunities assessment; and ending up with heavy losses and or destruction. The second is the dire need for sound silviculture and nursery management skills and practices in the high-risk coastal landscapes, where water salinity can wipe-out an entire nursery of plants if badly managed. Thirdly, there is a need to develop a robust quid pro quo incentive system, for community involvement in overall Integrated Coastal Zone Management, including mangrove cultivation and restoration. And once such a system is decided upon and appropriate, additional knowledge and understanding about operability should be acquired – and then to go forward decisively to implement a holistic mangrove restoration programme.
Restoration opportunities as framework for effective landscape management
One characteristic of an “effective” practice is measurability. In a landscape, it would enhance the chance that a performance value can be managed (Stiglitz et al. 2010). Furthermore, conservation and development performance metrics do not assess landscape practices (Sayer et al., 2016) let alone their effectiveness. One reason is because, Conservation and Development, are two desirables; but often incompatible features in a landscape, between which some balance or compromise needs to be achieved in order to allow for landscape statuses assessments. Good at throwing up individual measures of effectiveness, these two desirables are weak on status measures of the entire landscape. So, is there a role for a landscape restoration opportunities framework for assessing effectiveness?
No universally accepted definition exists for “effective practice”. Wikipedia focuses on performance and defines effective practice as – a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means. The JISC (2009) defines effective practice as, employing a range of pedagogic skills to bring about the best possible learning for the widest variety of learners. Finally, the Brightspace Community (2018) proposes a consensus definition that; “Effective Practices are methods or techniques that have proven themselves in one or more scenarios to be effective at accomplishing a desired outcome.”
So, in other to address the issue of balance and compromise and improve appraisal of the status of the entire landscape, not just one or two discrete measures, Eco-Agriculture Partners and Cornell University (Buck et al., 2006) proposed the Landscape Measures Framework (LMF). It distinguishes four broad goals of landscape approaches comprising; Conservation, Production, Livelihoods, and Institutions.
But these goals are not intuitively measurable. So, one way to enhance their measurability, so the concept can more effectively serve landscape management would be; to identify and link them to proven proxies in an actual, tested and compatible methodology or framework. Here is where “restoration opportunities” or the ROAM can come in. Below is an effort to align the LMF (Buck, 2006) and the Tools of the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (IUCN & WRI, 2014).
Box 1, Table 4 and Figure 8 are used together and hopefully self-explicit. The mapping of two peer-reviewed concepts in Table 4 is unscientific, so open to further interpretations by the reader. However. Figure 8 is a Theory of Change and numbers – corresponding to ROAM tools have be inserted to further strengthen understanding. The TOC can be easily converted to a logical framework of activities, assumptions and outputs.
Conclusions & next steps for restoration opportunities in the MRU Watershed
Landscape restoration provides practitioners in the Mano River Union (MRU) and West Africa, with a robust tool, with which to manage complex landscapes, effectively. By creatively applying peer-reviewed tools for landscape restoration such as the ROAM and the LMF, landscape managers can effectively coordinate and evaluate outcomes across four key aspects of landscapes; conservation, livelihoods, institutions and production.
Population is growing in the Mano River Union area; and in the recent past, socio-economic, security and health emergencies have influenced migrations, resettlement and land use change, some of which continue to this day. Given these dynamics, a solid grip is required on the ecology; its architecture, functioning, and the status of frontier forests and ecosystems of the region. Such a grip is required to roll-back past damage where opportunities present themselves; and subsequently, their negative socio-economic and ecological impacts. A close eye must be kept on land use change occurring on the nine (9) transboundary river basins and their high conservation value forests. By working with communities in need of resilient livelihoods strategies, similar attention should be paid to the fragile coastlines, mangrove forests and biodiversity under threat.
For all its apparent complexity, landscape restoration is about “sustaining ecological functions and improving livelihoods at scale”. By analyzing past and ongoing applications in different countries, including in the MRU, its accompanying tool, the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology or ROAM is proving to be an effective tool for the praxis; Action – Monitoring – Evaluation – Learning – Knowledge, and more action.
In this diagnostic report, a wide-range of issues have been subjected to critical analyses, targeting; concepts, and a need to un-learn as we prepare for change. Among the key issues subjected to analyses here we include; policy processes, restoration assessments, landscape and livelihoods activities. Many of these activities have been achieved through the WA BiCC/TetraTech Project partnerships; own aspirations, plans and investments.
The results of the analyses show that; the restoration opportunities concept, largely proven, is well underway in different parts of west Africa. In this analysis, we demonstrated how associated notions can also be adapted; complementary understanding explored, and entertained; while, rational adjustments to approaches are being considered. However, these products of innovation can only be beneficial, once practitioners across the region continue to master and grow in the concept which is now largely proven in the region.
For instance, over seven countries in west Africa have pledged to the Bonn Challenge with the MRU countries alone pledging to restore 9 million hectares of degraded landscapes. The results of the Ghana ROAM, one of the first (completed in 2011) have endured and are directly contributing to the high-profiled public – private partnership to restore close to 26,000 hectares of degraded lands in Ghana. Transboundary ROAM is underway in at least four landscapes; and Burkina Faso is undertaking a sub national ROAM at Commune level.
Beyond this proof of concept, there is opportunity also for “unlearning” in our understanding of restoration and assessing opportunities. Unlearning here does not signify that prior notions were incorrect – not at all! It means dimensions of understanding are getting broader, requiring us to loosen our grip on some prior-held notions, even agendas. For instance, in West Africa where the transition from Sahel to high forest is starker, “landscape restoration” tends to have more appeal than “forest landscape restoration”.
As unlearning evolves, ROAM is finding effectiveness not just as a “methodology”, but as a “framework” for providing structure, direction and measurability to ongoing land use and livelihoods processes.
Furthermore, in contexts where actors have longstanding working relationships with people and ecosystems under degradation, innovations such as using prior knowledge from secondary sources, in handling stakeholder analyses (a ROAM requirement), are coming handy, thus avoiding beneficiary or client fatigue. Similarly, the elusiveness of the central, restoration notion of “opportunity” is opening-up a learning window on landscape management. It is for instance, helping us understand why the concept of “trade-off” is losing significance in landscape management. Trade-offs can presuppose a zero-sum game based on a quid pro quo – with no room for innovation. In a corrective way “opportunity” for restoration helps us open up the notion of “trade-offs” to accept different scenarios or “new opportunities” for achieving harmony in a landscape.
Rationalizing “unlearning” is like defending innovation, and the controversy that, if a concept is broadened it will become diluted and lost is not true in all cases. Such may happen if the concept lacks defining core principles. Three defining core principles of “restoration” are opportunity, scale and that, it is a nature-based solution. All three together help distinguish landscape restoration from other disciplines and exhibit their usefulness in all circumstances where dimensions of degradation are well defined.
So, as demand for the concept and practice grows; there is need to harmonize understanding such as; dimensions of degradation; inclusive of degradation of seascapes and waterscape (e.g., water hyacinth in lakes; heavy metals, debris and plastics in coastal waters and lagoons, etc.); in a similar way as soil, land and forest degradation are covered under landscape and forest degradation; and ageing tree-crop systems, as degraded agroforestry mosaics, etc.
Like opportunity before it, Scale is particularly important, because it is at scale that functional diversity is best expressed; or that, ecological connectivity is enhanced by strengthening wildlife corridors.
And to illustrate some of the diagnostics, this analysis posits that, beyond the concept and unlearning we must also prepare for change.
The four instances of likely change in practice with availability of new knowledge are drawn from our experience with ROAM in drylands (ex: Burkina Faso), dealing with Transboundary landscapes (ex: MRU), supporting options for ecological corridors in multiple use landscapes, and priorities for restoration in coastal landscapes (ex: Sierra Leone and Fresco).
Our findings show that, amongst other considerations, the drylands and coastal landscapes are particularly susceptible to climate change effects. For instances, cases of landscape degradation have made flash-flooding more frequent and powerful in certain locations that meet a certain threshold of degradation. The burden is now on us, information holders to use that new knowledge in restoration assessment. On the other hand, the dynamics of tides, coastlines, water currents, movements of mudflats and the relationships with sedimentation, inland land use and mangrove survival, all combine to create new short-term/medium- and long-term data layers. Applying understanding of these dynamics to restoration opportunities or lack thereof, in coastal complexes is now urgent. And under a changing climate and land use, unless near real-time information systems are implemented, the uncertainty and risk of more catastrophic occurrences are likely to grow, not diminish.
The other two cases of change involving transboundary restoration, and opportunities for ecological corridors, fall within the remit of landscape management effectiveness (refer to LMF). However, the transboundary case raises a serious question about landscape restoration as a nature-based solution, and thus should transcend political boundary consideration. Meanwhile the ecological corridor example raises two questions; landscape management effectiveness and “best use of a methodology”. The case of a corridor is one which may benefit first from State-sanctioned land use planning, and then an assessment, afterwards, not before.
Landscape Restoration cannot advance and be consolidated without appropriate funding. However, there are differences between available funding and appropriate funding. While the former tends to be more available, there is need that, given the ecosystems, livelihoods and climate significance of restoration, more appropriate funding mechanisms be identified and developed. Restoration will benefit from, secure, long-term, sufficient, but incremental funding. Scale and a performance-based system are requirements, as they provide opportunities for aggregation and motivation for participation by the private sector. Some performance-based systems already exist in Projects / west Africa scene; with some, experimenting resource mobilization tactics based on marketing of their performance. These are all excellent circumstances that bode well for private – public – partnerships as funding or a resource mobilization strategy. However, for this to be meaningful it must be tied to specific landscape features being sustainably managed. It must also be linked to the business model of the partners, or at the very least, the bases for the partnership must be connected or linked to the natural resources under consideration in the landscape.
Finally, this diagnostic proposes a Theory of Change (TOC) for landscape restoration. In a context of competing demands on land use, and a departure from the limiting notion of ‘trade-offs’ a TOC that obliges structured learning, such as by linking it to a proven concept like ROAM is feasible and ready for testing within the MRU and across the wider west Africa.
Next Steps for restoration opportunities in the MRU
Recommended next steps for ROAM and landscape restoration in the Manor River Union and in parts of west Africa should involve Projects or like programs working with strategic partners spanning the 3 benchmark ecosystems of West Africa; Savannah, Forests and Coastal Areas.
These sub ecosystems comprise; Sudano-Sahel tree savannah; inland forests and Maritime zones, initially covering seven countries; Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The goal will be to complete ongoing tasks and mandates, by rendering interventions more methodical and coordinated, with stronger learning and scaling-up value. Th e next steps should essentially involve at least two main pillars:
1. Further deepen development and implementation comprehensive ROAM /landscape restoration prototypes for the three (3) benchmark ecosystems (x two replicates) backed by strong, coordinated capacity building and training for nationals and other participating experts.
2. Engaging with appropriate, strategic partners to conceive and apply appropriate tools, technologies (ROAM, LMF, GIS, RS and PRM) to develop a livelihoods and landscape management information system. Such a system should comprise and serve as;
• A repertoire for high-end ROAM and other map products; finished, costed restoration interventions, per hectare, for different benchmark sites; including links to the stories behind their outcomes pathways to appeal to potential investors and donors
• A near-real time, information management system , on geo-referenced land use activities, threats to biodiversity ; with capability for crowd-sourcing of information; and interacting with users.
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