Policy Dialogue on Forest Landscape Restoration and Gender Equality

30 Nov 2017, Safari Park Hotel



The current understanding of Forest Landscape Restoration moves beyond the ecosystem-based approach of previous years and defines restoration as “a planned process to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes”. Gender equality and women’s rights are critical for addressing these dual objectives.

This workshop will bring together a wide range of stakeholders working on both FLR and the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights to learn about gender responsive forest restoration. The workshop will generate dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of addressing gender equality in FLR, and to identify contextual and empirically grounded approaches to advancing gender-responsive FLR in East African countries.


Restoration offers multiple co-benefits and an opportunity to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation activities in the forestry sector. The IUCN estimates that there are currently over two billion hectares worldwide with restoration potential. Unlocking this potential rests critically on the contributions and cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders; with particular emphasis on those who rely on these landscapes for their livelihoods—and whose rights and wellbeing must be safeguarded and promoted for restoration to be sustainable.

And while forest restoration is by no means a new idea, it has received unprecedented global attention in recent years. For instance, the Bonn Challenge was launched in 2011 as an international effort to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020. 44 countries and organizations have made restoration pledges so far, which together amount to a combined 150.03 million hectares. Commitments made by African countries under AFR100 and the Bonn Challenge currently amount to 75.3m ha, of which 5.1m in Kenya by 2030, 15m by 2020 in Ethiopia, 2.5m in Uganda, 2m ha in Rwanda and 2m ha in Burundi.

The focus in East Africa is on forestland, cropland, rangeland (Kenya), afforestation, reforestation and community-based forest management (Ethiopia and Uganda), commercial tree-planting on private land (Uganda), increasing forest cover and expanding agroforestry (Rwanda) and reforestation and agroforestry on slopes (Burundi). Although Tanzania is currently in the process of formulating its commitment to AFR100, its INDC indicates actions including strengthening of sustainable forest management and tree-planting programs, the protection of natural forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Why is gender responsive FLR integral?

Past restoration initiatives that were gender blind and/or excluded women served to exacerbate gender inequalities. Women’s access to land and resources were further restricted; women’s voice and agency undermined; and their work burden heightened (Sarin 1995, Agarwal 2001, Nightingale 2002, Sijapati Basnett 2008). There is a need for restoration initiatives to support growing efforts globally to enhance women’s rights to land, rather than ignoring or reversing the progresses made so far.

Furthermore, embedding gender considerations into forest landscape restoration activities offers considerable opportunities for leveraging synergies between restoration commitments, climate change action (through the NDCs) and global commitments to sustainable development as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Long-term action research carried out by CIFOR in collaboration with local communities in Uganda demonstrates that gender considerations need to be meaningfully integrated throughout restoration assessment, planning and implementation processes; entry points for action and reform must be identified in collaboration with local stakeholders; and opportunities to strategically support women’s and men‘s participation must be seized (Mwangi et al. 2016). Similar principles form the core of IUCN’s recently launched and piloted ‘Gender-responsive Restoration Guidelines’, which lay out a number of steps for ensuring gender considerations are meaningfully integrated in restoration assessments (IUCN 2017).

The day:

This workshop brings together stakeholders ranging from policy makers and practitioners to civil society and the research community working on restoration as well as gender equality and women’s rights to present research findings, best practices as well as promote dialogue, reflections and learning on the following:

  • What are the cornerstones of gender responsive approaches to forest landscape restoration?
  • To what extent and how have current forest landscape restoration efforts in East Africa integrated gender issues? What are lessons learned from these experiences in terms of challenges, opportunities, good practices, and options for scaling up?
  • What gains/benefits does a gender-responsive approach bring to FLR? What are some possible trade-offs between restoration and gender equality?
  • How can synergies between SDG5 and global and national restoration efforts be generated and enhanced?
  • What types of support and resources are needed to enhance attention to gender among various actors designing and implementing restoration? To what extent are these resources available or how can they be generated?
  • Who are the key actors that should be involved (e.g. women’s machineries) and what roles should they play in ensuring gender is firmly embedded in the restoration agenda? How can collaboration be promoted?

Further reading: