Gender matters in Forest Landscape Restoration: A framework for design and evaluation


by PIM

While Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is by no means a new idea, it has received unprecedented global attention in recent years. In 2011, the international community launched the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million ha of deforested and degraded lands by 2020 and 350 million ha by 2030. The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) aims to bring 100 million ha of degraded forest landscapes in Africa under restoration by 2030.

FLR is commonly understood as “a planned process that aims to regain ecological integrity and enhance wellbeing in deforested and degraded landscapes” (Dudley et al. 2005). Unlocking the potential of FLR to achieve both social and environmental outcomes rests critically on the support, contributions and cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders at all levels. In particular, it relies on those who depend on the landscapes under consideration for their livelihoods — and whose rights and wellbeing must be safeguarded and promoted for restoration to be sustainable. FLR is, and will be, implemented in countries and contexts with weak systems of governance, histories of land tenure conflicts and structural discrimination against women and indigenous communities. Consequently, it is essential to ensure FLR initiatives do not perpetuate historical injustices and/or exclude and marginalize indigenous and local communities (Sarmiento Barletti and Larson 2017).

Numerous studies have found that encouraging and incentivizing women’s participation can enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of forest management (e.g. Agarwal 2010; Coleman and Mwangi 2013; Leisher et al. 2016). Yet, despite potential synergies between restoration and gender equality outcomes, gender remains poorly addressed in restoration research and practice (Clewell and Aronson 2013; Broeckhoeven and Cliquet 2015).

A new CIFOR brief by Sijapati Basnett et al. provides a framework and set of recommendations for enhancing gender equality and women’s rights in and through FLR initiatives. It presents key considerations for gender-responsive FLR, drawing on lessons from the wider gender and natural resource management literature, ongoing and past restoration, and relevant initiatives to alter local land uses for global conservation and development goals.

Key messages

  • The essence of gender-responsive Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is ensuring that women and men at all levels have equal voice and influence in strategic decisions related to FLR, and that this contributes to substantive equality in outcomes for women and men.
  •  ‘Free and Prior Informed Consent’, ‘fair’ and ‘just’ compensation, and impartial and effective grievance mechanisms for all those affected are critical to safeguarding the rights of local and indigenous women and men.
  • Decisions about target areas for restoration, choice of stakeholders for FLR governance and how to include them, restoration approaches, priority species and how to monitor progress should be made following gender-inclusive participatory processes to capitalize on the knowledge and experiences of both women and men.
  • Mechanisms and measures at various scales are required to equitably distribute benefits and costs associated with restoration for both women and men in participating communities.


Sijapati Basnett, B.; Elias, M.; Ihalainen, M.; Paez Valencia, A.M. 2017. Gender matters in Forest Landscape Restoration: A framework for design and evaluation. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia.

This research was funded by UK aid through their Knowledge for Forestry Program, and it was conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Programs on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) with financial support from the CGIAR Funders.

Images: CIFOR