18 April 2024 • ACTUALITÉS

A major study to identify priority forest areas for restoration in Benin, Madagascar, Indonesia and Ecuador

We all have little time and limited resources to restore, repair and protect living things, and forests in particular. This means that we need to select priority areas for intervention, so as not to dilute our efforts and increase our chances of making a quality impact. But what are the criteria for selecting these areas? How can we rely on the many scientific studies conducted around the world?

Planète Urgence had already selected priority intervention countries in itsF.O.R.E.T strategy based on deforestation zones, biodiversity hotspots and human vulnerabilities, using UN data. However, the association also wished to have a more detailed reading of the situation on a country-by-country basis. It therefore called on Resilient Landscape, a branch of CIFOR-ICRAF dedicated to landscape investment projects, to help it collect and analyze all data for Ecuador, Benin, Madagascar and Indonesia to identify priority areas for restoration.

Resilient Landscapes has thus mobilized current public knowledge, as well as the tools and know-how resulting from 45 years of research by CIFOR-ICRAF, the world’s leading organization dedicated to terrestrial natural capital research.

Stéphane Perrier, Global Leader of Resilient Landscapes, points out that “project developers with a strong ambition for quality are science’s best allies in promoting evidence-based landscape investments. When action is based on knowledge, the resulting investments increase their impact and reduce their risks. At a time when funding for nature is in short supply and we can’t afford to invest badly, this is vitally important.”

For each country, the study highlighted :

    • A mapping of potential areas for conservation or restoration based on biophysical elements, including priority ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, protected areas, terrestrial forest and mangrove areas, as well as pressure on ecosystems and their state of degradation.
    • A presentation of the issues surrounding these areas with the key characteristics of the main ecosystems identified, and the main pressures and degradations suffered by these ecosystems.
    • The projects and local players identified, as well as the areas where the majority of conservation and restoration actions are concentrated to date.

The prioritization of actions provided by the government, as well as an analysis of security and accessibility issues in the areas.

  • The elements of prioritization of actions provided by the government, as well as an analysis of the security and accessibility issues of the areas.
  • Analyses on the importance of land tenure in the success of the country’s restoration and conservation projects.

Planète Urgence wanted these studies to be made public free of charge so that they could be used by local authorities, civil society organizations and funders wishing to participate in the UN decade for restoration, of which Planète Urgence is a player..

Priority restoration areas in Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries. This diversity is due to its geographical situation, which combines the Ecuadorian zone, the presence of the Andes and the influence of ocean currents on its coasts. Ecuador is divided into 4 well-defined natural geographic zones: the coast, the mountain range, Amazonia and the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador is world-renowned for its wealth of flora, which is still little known and often threatened. It is estimated that the country has more plant species per unit area than any other country in South America. Total forest cover is around 11.6 million hectares, including 11.5 million hectares of natural forest and 78,000 hectares of plantations (42% of the country’s total surface area).

Priority restoration areas in Benin

On a continental level, Benin lies in a structuring zone for the African rainforest, now divided into two areas: a Central African part and a West African part, separated by a large cut-off zone. This gap, which includes southern Benin, Togo and southeastern Ghana, is known as the Dahomey Gap. Benin’s natural landscapes are covered by grasslands, savannahs, shrublands and open tropical and subtropical forests. The country has 2,807 listed plant species, 552 species of fungi, 603 species of birds, 157 species of mammals (2/3 of which are small mammals), 103 species of reptiles, 221 species of freshwater fish, 136 species of marine and brackish fish and 51 species of amphibians (IUCN 2021). Tree cover is estimated at 4,561,000 ha.

Priority restoration areas in Madagascar

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, covering 587,000 km2. Tropical rainforests stretch along Madagascar’s east coast, covering 18.41% of the country’s surface area (CEPF 2014). A mosaic of grasslands and woodlands occupies the central part of the island and represents 41% of the land area (CEPF 2014). The dry forests of the west are another important Madagascan ecosystem. The southern tip is arid (300 – 600 mm rainfall per year) and home to the island’s only spiny forest. The island is sometimes referred to as the eighth continent, due to its size and the thirteen diverse ecoregions it hosts (in terrestrial, marine, wetland and freshwater categories).

Priority restoration areas in Indonesia

The Indonesian archipelago comprises some 17,000 islands, of which around 990 are permanently inhabited. Indonesia is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries (UNEP 2020). Indonesia has a very particular geological history that impacts its ecosystems. There are 7 major biogeographical regions in Indonesia (areas of distribution of animals and plants with similar or common characteristics), centered on the main islands and surrounding seas. Wallace’s line, Weber’s line and Lydekker’s line mark the boundary between the main biogeographical regions. Zoogeography follows these boundaries very closely – for example, there are no populations of orangutans, rhinoceroses or tigers east of Wallace’s line.

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