Center for International Forestry Research

African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ceyx pictus) in the Forest Reserve of Yoko, Kisangani, DRC (Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR)

CIFOR informs new guidelines on how to protect forests and biodiversity

CIFOR has produced a new set of ‘best practice guidelines’ to be used to inform policy makers on how to balance competing pressures on  land while protecting forests and biodiversity. The new guidelines were taken into consideration by UN research.

Understanding the different functions of landscapes is vital to ensure that countries have more resilience and are able to better adapt to climatic changes, such as food insecurity.

Terry Sunderland
CIFOR Principal Scientist

‘Landscapes’ are a new way of considering land management based on social, economic and environmental services. Proponents hope that moving away from thinking of land in segregated terms could end the ongoing debate that forests have to be sacrificed for the sake of development. It could also help stakeholders decide how to maximise the potential of their land to secure sustainable food and energy supplies, while maintaining the ecosystem services that trees and forests provide. This approach is focused on poverty alleviation and livelihoods rather than conservation or biological considerations.

The landscape-level approach to sustainability is a set of 10 guiding principles that outline ways to better integrate research into the agricultural, forestry, energy, and fishery sectors. The guidelines were submitted for consideration to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2012. The CBD has officially “taken note” of the guidelines – a testament to their relevance for multifunctional landscape management.

“These guidelines could set a standard for policy makers,  NGOs, and practitioners working in conservation and development in over 100 countries across the world on how to develop and improve land use planning policies,” said TerrySunderland, CIFOR Principal Scientist and lead researcher of the principles.

The landscape approach provides an alternative way of looking at many factors that affect landscapes, including restoration, payments for environmental services schemes, interventions aiming at reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+), water  management across watersheds and appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change.

“Countries would need to  trengthen relationships with national and international stakeholders, improve communication between sectors and invest in more  integrated approaches to multifunctional landscape management in order to make the most of the approach,” Sunderland said.