Forest landscape restoration is not just about planting trees. People are at the heart of restoring degraded and deforested land. This episode of the WRI podcast dives into the Global Restoration Initiative's new publication, Mapping Social Landscapes, which places people at the center of analyzing a landscape. The guide applies social network analysis to restoration: mapping how the people who live, work, and depend on a landscape interact with each other, get information, and access resources.
Why do we map physical landscapes? A map is crucial to quickly understand the soil, vegetation, geography, and land-use opportunities of a given area. It notes the river systems, migratory pathways, and ecological systems that traverse the landscape. These types of biophysical maps are essential, helping practitioners identify how best to restore.
In a similar way, a map of the "social landscape" is key to strategic planning. It identifies how people are connected by flows of resources like information, finance, or seedlings. It can also show how members of a community share priorities and values – and how they may differ – helping to shape partnerships or funding proposals.
This podcast episode gives an overview of the Mapping Social Landscapes guide and presents case studies from Lake Toba in Indonesia and the Sidhi district in India. The episode features WRI experts Kathleen Buckingham, Research Manager for the Global Restoration Initiative; Sabin Ray, Research Analyst for the Global Restoration Initiative; Satrio Wicaksono, Forest and Landscape Restoration Manager at WRI Indonesia; and Ruchika Singh, Associate Director of the Sustainable Landscapes and Restoration program at WRI India.
Lake Toba, in the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is the largest volcanic lake in the world. But this iconic lake suffers from severe water pollution. Wicaksono explains how mapping the social landscape improved collaboration in the region to address the growing threat to water quality.
Meanwhile, India's Sidhi district is highly vulnerable to climate change and struggles with poor human development. Based on these factors, as well as other biophysical aspects, such as the level of land degradation, Sidhi is ideal for landscape restoration. Singh shows how analyzing the social landscape revealed unexpected results that changed how the team works with local communities.
Download the Mapping Social Landscapes guide here.
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