11:15 - 12:00
Forests across the world stand at the crossroad. Climate change and land use change will shape their future. Agriculture is the main driver of deforestation, with differing regional trends: ranching in Amazonia, shifting cultivation in Africa and smallholder farming linked to industrial plantations in Asia. The wealth of data now available and the existence of real-time tracking capacities have enhanced widespread global awareness and concern for these issues. Multiple initiatives are happening worldwide. International bodies, governments, civil society and private actors have multiplied the pledges to stop deforestation and to restore forest landscapes. Yet despite global efforts, forest loss, fragmentation and land degradation continue unabated, reaching a critical point.
Why? Why are policies designed to halt deforestation and increase restoration of forest landscapes failing? I propose that a key reason for this ineffectiveness lies in a failure to recognise the agency of the stakeholders involved and the adaptive capacities of the systems we seek to steer. Landscapes do not happen. They are made. They are the result of the sum of individual actions and decisions made by all stakeholders, and the interactions between these and biophysical processes. Likewise, forest transitions are not ecological, but social and behavioural, a product of the way that humans manage ecosystems.
In this presentation, I will provide an overview of why current policies and initiatives to halt forest degradation and foster forest restoration fail, and suggest possible solution pathways to overcome key current barriers. I will defend that we need mental models and policies that better take into account local needs and aspiration, beliefs and constraints.