Insight.Jun 11, 2024

Taking root: locally driven forest restoration

Resilient landscapes are made up of a fully functioning water cycle, ecosystem functions, and many types of natural habitats, such as wetlands or forests. When these work together as an integrated landscape, climate change mitigation and adaptation are at their highest.

Ellen Pokorny
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Ellen Boyer Pokorny
Communications Manager,
Lotta Samuelsson (Swedish Water House)
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Lotta Samuelson
Senior Program Manager,
Swedish Water House

Forest and tree cover play a vital role in this process, as they filter and store water, help maintain water in the soil, recharge groundwater, and sequester carbon. However, forest degradation and deforestation are occurring all over the world. As the globe begins to better understand climate change, restoration initiatives are beginning to take root.

Local knowledge and perspectives

While restoration, prevention of deforestation, and forest degradation begin to be better understood, knowledge gaps persist, making it difficult to ensure the appropriate measures are put into place that do not negatively affect the resilience of plants, biodiversity, and climate change resilience. Local perspectives and knowledge of specific locations and areas are needed to unlock best practices for forest restoration.

SIWI and partners, the Swedish Forest Agency and Eco-Innovation Foundation, began a capacity building training programme for forest landscape restoration, called the Locally Controlled Forest Restoration (LoCoFoRest) in 2021. This five-year programme, funded by Sida, aims to scale up restoration while improving ecosystem services. With a focus on local community involvement and prosperity, the LoCoFoRest programme runs from 2021 to 2025 in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republique of Congo, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Senegal, Thailand, Togo, and Vietnam. In the seven one-year course rounds, participants begin with a web course, followed by two weeks of intensive training in Sweden, and then work in their home countries with a change project to enhance sustainable and scalable forest landscape restoration.

Case studies in LoCoFoRest

Burkina Faso

Collage of 3 photos of the LoCoFoRest project in Burkina Faso: Left: person standing beside a young tree plant. Top right: close up of someone's hands holding a green, fresh lettuce. Bottom right: a person watering a line of crops with a watering can.
LoCoFoRest project in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, the programme is active in the Ouagadougou Green Belt. The now degraded grassland area was originally kept to provide a green recreational area in the city for the citizens. Participants in the programme from the Ministry of the Environment work to restore the area for biodiversity, improve livelihoods for local communities, and for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Ministry works with local communities to establish market gardening, plantation of 400 local tree and plant species, as well as solar powered water sources. More than 50 persons are operating the site (80% of which are women) in the pilot phase. The long-term objective is for these activities to scale up, and step by step regreen the Green belt of Ouagadougou.


Collage of 3 photos from the LoCoFoRest project in Nepal: top left: person crouching beside a bamboo plant. top right: person crouching in a squash field. bottom: large river bed
LoCoFoRest project in Nepal

The training program attracts many participants in Nepal, from the government, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. Helvetas, one of these organizations, supported the change programme through the development of a restoration project which encompasses 4 rural and urban municipalities. The programme incorporates more than 40 thousand local plants, which were planted with the aim of controlling erosion and supporting the community through economic development.

Restoring water-smart forests

In order to best mitigate and adapt to climate change, forests and landscapes need water-smart and locally inclusive tools and approaches to restoration. By including local knowledge and practices that incorporate water, restoration initiatives have a much higher chance of taking root and lasting.