Measuring the impact of restoring degraded forests and landscapes from the local to the global level.
More than 40 countries have committed to bring over 160 million hectares of land into restoration by 2030, through incorporating and protecting trees and shrubs back in the landscape to improve livelihood and stop degradation of ecosystem services. Governments around the world recognize that restoring land revitalizes rural landscapes to provide food, fiber and energy, supports farmers, helps water, soil and biodiversity conservation, and mitigates climate change.
As countries move from commitments to implementation, we need to establish an effective system for measuring progress and revealing successes. This system must also measure where we began (i.e., establish a baseline) and the progress we have already made. WRI’s Global Restoration Initiative has been developing and testing methods to quantify baselines and measure progress towards restoration.
Why set a baseline and measure restoration?
To understand the success of practices to restore and protect the land
To inspire replication at scale by providing independent evidence of success to peers, investors, local and national governments, and international bodies
To understand what worked, and what did not, to better support adaptive management
How is WRI measuring progress in restoration?
Assist stakeholders to think through their goals and select the best indicators to measure progress: WRI and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) worked together to develop a new guide that focuses on identifying indicators relevant to the user’s restoration goals. The guide centers on three key questions: why restoration?, what is the intervention?, and what are the drivers of degradation? (See Graph Below). Countries we support include: Brazil, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nicaragua, and Rwanda.
Developing and implementing tools to measure tree cover restoration: Deforestation has already been measured and monitored accurately (e.g. Global Forest Watch). Restoration monitoring is more difficult since restored tree cover is often dispersed, the tree cover increase is often not visually obvious, and trees grow slowly. Therefore, new tools must be developed to measure restoration. WRI has already created a few:
In cooperation with the University of Maryland, Global Forest Watch and Resource Watch, Landsat satellite data is classified into annual tree height classes. With a 15 year data set, Landsat gives users an indication of their progress towards restoration goals.
At the landscape level two tools are under development:
Collect Earth is a software program developed by FAO that builds on Google Earth’s ability to generate sample plots that can be interpreted visually. WRI and partners organize Collect Earth Mapathon workshops where those familiar with the landscape interpret and classify the high-resolution satellite images. This results in datasets of tree cover that can be baselines for restoration and measure progress.
Google Earth Engine is used to classify satellite images of landscapes with differing tree cover density, using Sentinel 10 m and Landsat 30 m data. This system will work in cooperation with Collect Earth.
Collect Earth baselines have been developed for:
Cerrón Grande watershed: 150,000 ha
Tekeze basin: 8,000,000 ha
Meket district: 189,000 ha
Sodo district: 95,000 ha
Sidhi district, Madhya Pradesh: 378,444 ha
Gicumbi district: 82,900 ha
Gatsibo district: 157,800 ha
Training the trainers: WRI has organized training to equip local Collect Earth specialists with the skills to train others. These trainings allow country specialists to measure restoration progress on their own and to ensure that the restoration work will be sustainable over the long term. WRI has conducted training in Ethiopia and Nicaragua.
Supporting regional guidelines: WRI is helping to develop formal guidelines for measuring restoration’s impact with the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, the Africa-led AFR100, and the Latin America-led Initiative 20x20.
Momentum is building for restoration. The Bonn Challenge in 2011 initiated a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. Since then, regional initiatives have grown, such as AFR100 to restore 100 million hectares of land across Africa and Initiative 20x20 to restore 20 million hectares of land across Latin America and the Caribbean.