Identify and prioritize geographical areas where restoration would contribute most significantly to achieving national level targets contributing to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (such as priority areas for the conservation of biodiversity, areas that provide essential ecosystem services, and areas that would enhance the integrity of protected areas and their integration into wider land- and seascapes).
Avoid unintentional damage to natural ecosystems
When planning and prioritizing areas for restoration, the most important biodiversity consideration is to avoid damage to ecosystems, whether unintentional or through conversion to another ecosystem type. This consideration is reflected in the Annex to the STAPER, but also in other policy frameworks relevant for restoration such as REDD+, the International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration, and Principles of Forest and Landscape Restoration.
This risk may occur when projects use afforestation, that is, the planting of trees in non-forest native ecosystems, such as grasslands, even if those non-forested ecosystems are in a degraded state. These often-overlooked native ecosystems typically contain significant biodiversity8. Global maps of restoration opportunities based largely on potential forest vegetation could inadvertently lead to the afforestation of biodiverse grasslands, savannas, and open canopy woodlands. Care should be exercised in utilizing coarse scale maps intended to provide a general idea of where restoration might be considered. Assessments of restoration opportunities should always be scaled-down appropriately to national or local level, drawing on expert knowledge. ROAM and other assessment frameworks (e.g., Chapter 8.2.2 of IPBES 20189) may be useful in this regard.
See the “Guidance for integrating biodiversity considerations” section in appendix I of Decision CBD COP XIII/5
Seven safeguards were adopted in Decision UNFCCC 1 / CP.16 with the aim of avoiding risks from REDD+ implementation. One safeguard states that in the execution of REDD+ activities (which may include the enhancement of carbon stocks through forest restoration), the conversion of natural forests should be avoided.
A key principle of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration states that FLR does not lead to the conversion or destruction of natural forests or other ecosystems; see Besseau, P., Graham, S. and Christophersen, T. (eds.). (2018) Restoring forests and landscapes: the key to a sustainable future. Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, Vienna, Austria.Â
Featured resources and tools
A wealth of resources is available to assist with identifying and prioritizing areas for restoration that will contribute to achieving national level biodiversity targets. In additional to ROAM, the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration report, and resources available from UNCCD (see A1), the following tools are available that can be used to identify and prioritize geographic areas for restoration.
The Ecoregions 2017 website provides maps of 846 global Bioregions, designating terrestrial ecoregions with more than half, less than half, and 20% or less remaining natural habitat. Although this is a global assessment, it can help to scope out which ecoregions present at the national scale have lost most of their coverage globally. In combination with locally relevant sources of data on drivers of degradation it could help determine with ecoregions should be prioritized for restoration.
The planning of restoration interventions and their location can also draw on assessments of areas of global importance for biodiversity such as IUCN Key Biodiversity Areas. Map data for Key Biodiversity Areas can be used in combination with other data for GIS analysis.
Planning of restoration interventions and their location can also draw on spatially explicit information on areas of importance for threatened certain species. The IUCN Red List provides regularly updated assessments of conservation status of many assessed species as well as geographic range maps for each of themsome of them. Range maps can be downloaded for further GIS analysis.
The Alliance for Zero Extinction provides an updated list of sites that must be effectively protected (and may require restoration) to ensure the survival of many of the world’s most threatened species. The location of each site is shown on a map and sites can be searched by country, taxonomic group, or area selected on the map interface. Data can be exported for GIS analysis as well as tabular information on the species at each site.
The UN-REDD Programme supports countries to apply the UNFCCC’s safeguards, and to conduct land-use planning for REDD+ to deliver multiple environmental and social benefits while reducing risk. REDD+ activities, as defined by the UNFCCC, includes the enhancement of forest carbon stocks, which may be implemented through restoration interventions. The Multiple Benefits webpage of the UN-REDD Programme contains a number of national and subnational scale spatial analyses of the potential for REDD+ implementation to deliver ‘multiple benefits’, which include the conservation of biodiversity. Several mapping tutorials and a GIS toolbox are also available on the resource hub.
The UN-REDD Programme supports countries to apply the UNFCCC’s safeguards, and to conduct land-use planning for REDD+ to deliver multiple environmental and social benefits while reducing risk. REDD+ activities, as defined by the UNFCCC, include the restoration of forests. The UN-REDD website also contains resources on stakeholder engagement, forest governance, tenure security and gender equality.