By Clinton Muller & Dennis Garrity
The global agenda is turning its attention to
landscape restoration initiatives.
Visions have been set, such as the objective
of Land Degradation Neutrality championed through the UNCCD at Rio+20.
Targets have been defined, including the Bonn
Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of the
world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.
The new challenge now is how will these
landscape restoration initiatives be realized?
National governments have demonstrated
tremendous leadership in enacting sound policy to support landscape restoration
initiatives. Landcare Group in Nigeria distributing seedlings as part of a revegetation project Ethiopia for instance, has
committed to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land, more than one-sixth of the country’s total land area. Likewise, Guatemala is working towards restoring
1.2 million hectares of it’s 10.7 million hectare
land mass. Many NGO’s and other agencies
have also embarked on programs and activities to support these objectives.
While invariably the intent of achieving
these goals are well grounded, the processes in which to fully realize them
now, and into the future, are still being defined.
Landcare can bring a lot to the table to
contribute to the discussion.
Founded independently, yet simultaneously in
Australia and Germany in the mid 1980’s, Landcare is an approach based on the
notion of communities caring for their landscape. The model, based on the values of community
empowerment and collective action to develop and apply innovative solutions to
natural resource management challenges, has often been identified as
‘bottom-up’ rather than the conventional ‘top-down’ program design.
It is the focus on the bottom up mechanism that
places community at the forefront of landscape management and decision making
activities. This is not to suggest
community can achieve these outcomes in isolation. Lessons from the Landcare approach in
Australia, which has scaled to a national program with more than 4,000
community Landcare groups, demonstrates the importance of effective
partnerships. Strong partnerships exist
between voluntary community Landcare groups in Australia with various government
agencies, NGOs and the private sector, as well as research institutes.
Together, the Landcare community of Australia
has changed their rural and urban landscape in supporting the reversal of land
degradation. Through the collective
efforts of community Landcare groups, the Australian landscape has been
transformed, as witnessed by:
- the planting of millions of
trees, shrubs and grasses
- riparian protection works
- restored water quality through
streambank stabilization and stock exclusion from waterways
- improved ground cover, grazing
methods and soil management
- protection and regeneration of
remnant native vegetation for habitat; and
- stronger, adaptable and resilient
The success of Landcare is not just isolated
to Australia. Strong evidence exists in
the more than 30 countries globally who have embraced Landcare. Communities have reclaimed erosive hillsides
in Claveria, Philippines for agricultural production. Farmers in Kapchorwa, Uganda, have protected
the forested area of Mt Elgon and rehabilitated erosive hillslopes through re-vegetation
and the development of community by-laws to address free grazing. Degraded and erosive grasslands in Iceland
have been rehabilitated by farmers through the seeding of lyme grass. These actions have all been undertaken through
the Landcare approach.
Realization of initiatives to restore global
landscapes will require a coordinated response.
Establishing global, regional and national targets whilst facilitating
conducive policy environments is essential.
Equally so is the engagement of the community at the grassroots. Landcare provides a mechanism to realize
Ultimately the realization of the vision for
Landscape restoration will rest with the community, not just in the present
through the adoption of remediation works, but also the adoption of a Landcare
ethic to sustain landscape management into the future.
Source: This blog is based on Chapter 11: Landcare - a landscape approach at scale of the New book: Climate-smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice
Citation: Catacutan, D.,
Muller, C., Johnson, M., & Garrity, D. (2015). Landcare – a landscape approach
at scale. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de
Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes:
Multifunctionality in Practice, 151-161. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry