Transformative governance for linking forest and landscape restoration to human well-being in Latin America

Published in Ecosystems and People, 17:1, 523-538

Aguiar, Sebastián, Mastrangelo, Matias Enrique, Brancalion, Pedro H.S. & Meli, Paula

Publication year 2021
  • Laboratorio de Análisis Regional y Teledetección, IFEVA, Facultad de Agronomía, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cátedra de Dasonomía, Departamento de Producción Vegetal, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Grupo de Estudio de Agroecosistemas y Paisajes Rurales (GEAP), Unidad Integrada Balcarce (Inta &ndash Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata), CONICET, Balcarce, Argentina
  • Department of Forest Sciences, &ldquoLuiz de Queiroz&rdquo College of Agriculture, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
  • Departamento de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile
IAI Program
  • FONDECYT to PM [Project 11191021],
  • Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Grant Award Number SGPHW 090
  • CONICET which provided funding through a postdoctoral scholarship to SA and a researcher position to MEM.
IAI Project SGPHW-090
PDFTransformative governance for linking forest and landscape restoration to.pdf


Tree planting and reforestation are currently in the spotlight as strategies for solving global environmental degradation. Many ongoing large-scale initiatives have proposed restoring millions of hectares and planting a trillion trees to solve climate change and biodiversity loss. Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) is one of the approaches most frequently employed to support these initiatives. Currently, many FLR initiatives are implemented in developing countries through a top-down approach, not fully anchored to the social-ecological characteristics of landscapes (e.g. land use and tenure, values of local peoples, local livelihoods), and sometimes relegating human well-being to a secondary concern. Therefore, issues of social equity and legitimacy might hamper the effectiveness of FLR initiatives and projects regarding their environmental outcomes. In this perspective article, we present four challenges to better link FLR and human well-being in Latin America: (1) the high dependence of local communities and countries&rsquo economies on natural resources, (2) conflicts over land tenure and access, (3) divergence in perceptions and values, and (4) the fragility of public institutions and policies. After describing these interrelated challenges, we discuss how to tackle them by implementing instruments and approaches recently organized under the concept of transformative governance. Finding an equitable and legitimate balance between global interests and urgency and increasing local well-being is the main challenge of FLR in Latin America, for which transformative governance is critical.