Drawing restoration goals from the bottom-up: Assessing local interest in ecosystem services

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Gabriela Barragan Altamirano, Jeanine Rhemtulla

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Successfully achieving our urgent and ambitious global restoration goals will depend on how well communities embrace restoration programs at a local scale. Restoration initiatives are frequently implemented using top-down decision-making strategies where non-local organizations determine the goals and expected restoration outcomes on the ground, which can result in conflicting expectations among stakeholders. But empowering local communities in restoration planning can enhance the success of restoration initiatives over the long-term. This study aimed to assess local interest in enhancing ecosystem services associated with forest restoration in landscapes of varying degrees of degradation, as a means to promote inclusive, diverse and ethical restoration planning. We used an interdisciplinary mixed-methods approach to collect and assess both quantitative and qualitative data. We facilitated focus group interviews and community mapping activities using satellite imagery for 26groups of local community members in 14 rural districts in the Ecuadorian Andes and Amazon in 2019. Our results show that community members are more interested in enhancing regulating ecosystem services (45%) than cultural (30%) or provisioning (25%) services. Interest in ecosystem services depended on local need (e.g., landslide mitigation, water supply) and the degree of landscape degradation. Locals living in landscapes with higher degradation preferred a higher number and diversity of ecosystem services compared to locals in less degraded landscapes. Learning about the local needs, interests, and landscape conditions can help restoration practitioners to support the design of restoration initiatives that empower locals to guarantee the persistence of restored areas for the achievement of the restoration goals.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program