Executive Summary
Project Proposal
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Process and Schedule
Suggested structure of synthesis

Project Proposal
Schedule: May 2002 - March 2006
Funding source:
Official Development Assistance, Government of Japan


Intensive exploitation and related disturbances have depleted large areas of forests in the tropics in the last few decades and resulted in large and expanding areas of degraded forest ecosystems. There is now increasing concern over dwindling forest cover, forest products and environmental services. In the past two decades, numerous forest rehabilitation projects have been initiated over tropical Asia and Latin America in response to these concerns. China has a Grain for Green national program where small farmer families are provided grain and money to halt cultivation on steep lands. The Philippines has had reforestation efforts on Imperata grasslands funded by international aid agencies in various periods from the 1970s to the 1980s, and there has also been a deliberate move towards assisted natural regeneration (ANR) since 1995. In Nepal and India, rehabilitation efforts have been ongoing since the early 1980s involving community, social or joint forest management projects, and with the support of the state and international aid agencies and NGOs.

In Vietnam, there have been provincial-level rural mountain development projects supported by International Agencies with activities crosscutting degradation and rehabilitation. The government's program to regreen the barren hills in the early 1990s has now turned into the 5 million ha afforestation/reforestation program. In Indonesia, there is the recent government initiated "Five year forest and land rehabilitation program (RHL - 5 tahun) aimed at rehabilitation of 17 catchment areas. Substantial state funds have also become available since 2001 for reforestation at the provincial level.

Funding sources for these programs and projects range from national to international to private agencies. The projects have differed in scale, underlying objectives, key actors involved, approaches, and duration. They have also differed in their extent of consideration of socio-economic and institutional aspects essential for successful rehabilitation. For example, there may not be sufficient interaction between industry and local people to ensure there is a market for end products of rehabilitated forests. Projects range from government-driven watershed reforestation to community based forest management, private company plantations, integrated livelihood projects, and spontaneous private tree farming. Many new projects with substantial resource investments are in the offing throughout the region. Carbon credits for afforestation and reforestation projects under the Kyoto protocol may lead to further investments in the rehabilitation of degraded areas.

In the light of the increasing importance of the issue of degraded lands and their rehabilitation, it is critical to draw strategic lessons from past experiences and use them to plan and guide future efforts. Through this study, "Review of rehabilitation projects - Lessons from the past", CIFOR in collaboration with national partners will synthesize, review, derive, and disseminate lessons from past and ongoing rehabilitation projects and research within selected regions of Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, China, Peru and Brazil. There will first be an inventory and characterisation of rehabilitation initiatives and their changing profile over time in each of the selected regions. This will be followed by a more detailed review of selected case studies on the ground looking at productivity, environmental and livelihood impacts as well as longer term sustainability and adoption. The aim is to increase the chances of success of future rehabilitation projects by identifying the approaches that have contributed to longer-term sustainability under different scenarios with minimal negative impacts on different stakeholders. Also planned in this study are the identification of underlying institutional constraints to sustainable rehabilitation and the key outputs required to address them.

This research will be highly applicable to countries across the Tropics since the underlying concerns and motivations driving rehabilitation efforts are often similar. The experience gained during an older rehabilitation scheme on one side of the world may be highly relevant to a similar scheme starting up on the other side. This is a timely opportunity to feed into the key policy processes related to forestry in many of the study countries. Indonesia right now intends to revamp its rehabilitation program. China has a number of national reforestation programs and is looking for ways and incentives to ensure longer-term sustainability. Brazil has a couple of big government-sponsored programmes that would benefit very much from the insights learned by the study.

This project will use and build on existing information and reviews already out there on degraded lands and rehabilitation efforts, and related policies. Gilmour et al. in 2002 provided a broad overview and assessment of forest rehabilitation policies and practices in the Mainland Southeast Asian region. Recent ITTO guidelines provide key global principles and recommended actions for the restoration, management and rehabilitation of degraded landscapes. There have also been numerous reviews of particular projects or programs by donor or government agencies focusing on aspects such as survival and growth rates, and more recently impacts on livelihoods. This study will attempt to further these efforts by synthesizing field and research information on the range of rehabilitation approaches and their driving forces and impacts, in order to identify the most promising approaches across a diversity of political, institutional and socio-economic conditions. This study will also attempt to interlink with other important initiatives into forest rehabilitation such as those led by WWF International, IUCN, ITTO, ICRAF, FAO, AKECOP and AFP.

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