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.