Landscape restoration needs to be bottom up and based on a realistic understanding of what communities want. And that includes women, young people and marginalised groups. Maybe we have all been saying this for a long time. But are we doing it? We have big (and very good) global ambitions – to plant billions of trees, to restore millions of hectares. But that can translate into top-down large-scale schemes owned and driven by government, corporates or external agencies. Yes there is a need for expertise and support for local community organisations, but the risk is that large agencies take ownership. Long ago we talked about the dangers of ‘dependency syndrome’. Now we see it happening. The solution? Community-based organisations that are close to the people they represent; that develop realistic programmes that meet local needs; that progressively gain the capacity to lead; that have opportunities to network and represent their communities; that represent women and youth as well as men; and that very often will be managed by women. How to identify and support such CBOs? This is not easy or simple and it takes time… We have been working to support tree planting, forest restoration, agroforestry and improved livelihoods with community groups since the foundation of our predecessor ‘Watu wa Miti’ and the ‘dance of the trees’ in Kenya almost a hundred years ago, and are still learning from our founder Richard St Barbe Baker. In Kenya and Cameroon we and our partners are building large scale landscape restoration projects based on the efforts of numerous community groups, local CBOs and local NGOs. Women groups in Kenya are showing us the way forward to restore degraded forests and enhance agroforestry. In Cameroon our partners are building a local consortium including youth, women, pastoralists and farmers, local CBOs and traditional rulers, to take a participatory approach to restoring the degraded Mount Bamboutos landscape So – ‘nothing new here’ – but large scale landscape restoration programmes will only be successful and sustainable when local community groups are at the heart of the entire process.
In the months preceding the GLF, participating organizations and individuals will connect, share, learn and act around five themes:
View the action-packed calendar of GLF online and in-person gatherings, as well as those of our partners.
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