These were the words of Rafael Chaves of the Secretariat for the Environment of the State of Sâo Paulo, Brazil recently at a special event organised by WeForest and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) with the support of PARTNERS in Nairobi, Kenya during 31st August – 1st Sept 2018.
The event brought together a diverse range of international stakeholders to initiate a dialogue on the need for quality standards for Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) in Africa. Representatives from inter-governmental organisations such as the African Union, The World Bank and the African Organisation for Standardisation; research organisations (e.g. CIFOR and WRI); and NGO’s such as WWF, Rainforest Alliance, Biodiversity International and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) took part in the discussions.
While stakeholders agreed on the need to ensure that FLR targets focus on the quality of practices and outcomes as well as the quantity of land restored, there were differences in opinion on how to move forward in developing the operational tools to ensure efforts on the ground are aligned with the conceptual understanding of FLR.
What’s in a name?
WeForest and others have been calling for the development of FLR quality standards to improve practices and long-term outcomes of FLR. However, discussions highlighted that, for some stakeholders, the use of the word ‘standard’ conjures up an image of over-regulation.
“WeForest supports voluntary FLR standards that bridge the gap between concept and practice and are co-developed through participatory processes by the relevant stakeholders. Meanwhile, we welcome FLoRES’s decision to develop a quality framework for FLR, a move in the right direction” said Victoria Gutierrez (WeForest Chief Science Officer) in response to these concerns.
Rafael Chaves, who attended the dialogue in Nairobi to share his expertise and experiences from the 1st dialogue on FLR quality standards (held in Sao Paulo State, Brazil during 2017) described some key features of a FLR quality framework “Such a framework shall be flexible enough to allow adaptation to the diversity of conditions existent around the globe, but also consistent enough to be sure that we speak a common language and act in the same direction” WeForest will work as part of the FLoRES Taskforce to push forward with developing this FLR quality framework ahead of the next international dialogue in the Philippines in 2019.