Forest Transitions in the Andes: Workshop of the Natural Assets Knowledge-Action Network

Forest transitions in the Andes. Image: Mariano Mantel via Flickr
The Natural Assets Knowledge-Action Network will hold its first regional workshop in Latin America in November on “Forest transition in the Andes. Pathways to optimize the balance between Natural Assets and the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Update: Read here two articles about the workshop in La Gaceta, the largest newspaper in Northern Argentina: 

1) Medio ambiente: buscan un diálogo entre la acción y el conocimiento.

2) Ciencia y compromiso político, la receta para salvar los bosques tucumanos

Future Earth, through the Natural Assets Knowledge-Action Network, is funding a workshop to analyze the spatial relationships between Natural Assets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of forest expansion in montane systems of Latin America. The meeting, organized in the province of Tucumán, Argentina, by the Regional Ecology Institute, will bring together local land scientists and stakeholders, such as government and NGOs, with international leaders in Natural Assets and ecosystem services quantification. The aim of the workshop is to analyze how the achievement of the SDGs may be fostered by the forest transition and to identify ways of maximizing beneficial synergies.

The workshop is organized as part of the Natural Assets Knowledge-Action Network, with several of its Development Team members attending. Its outcomes will feed back into the networks second core activity on facilitating a global synthesis on understanding and tackling synergies and trade-offs between SDG 15 (life on land) and other SDGs relevant for sustainable development.

Forest transition, the reversal from deforestation to reforestation trends, is a widespread process in the Andean montane system of Latin America. Forest transition implies an increase of natural assets, since new forests provide increased ecosystem services to society. In addition, they may have different spatial effects such as the protection of local watersheds while at the same time contributing to global climate through carbon sequestration. Different mechanisms lead to divergent forest recovery pathways. Forest transition may occur spontaneously due to human out-migration and land use deintensification, or it may be fostered by active reforestation efforts with specific purposes, e.g. timber or coffee production. The ecosystem services provided by the forests generated through these mechanisms will differ widely, e.g. their capacity to hold biodiversity, to sequestrate carbon or to protect watersheds. The understanding of the provision of ecosystem services is important because, by different means, they are linked to the achievement of key Sustainable Development Goals, such as SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 6 (clean water), SDG 13 (climate action) or SDG 15 (life on land). 

Given the complexity of the mechanisms and scales involved in the interactions between forest transition, natural assets and the Sustainable Development Goals, it is necessary to analyze the problem from different disciplines and scales. At the same time, stakeholders and scientists need to jointly define a research agenda to inform intelligent and sustainable management strategies. The combination of the regional (the Andes) and local (Lules watershed in Tucuman province) study areas will allow workshop participants to have a comprehensive overview without neglecting realistic, concrete stewardship issues. In the workshop, participants will identify drivers of forest transition and analyze how forest dynamics and the associated ecosystem services influence the achievement of the above mentioned SDGs at continental and local scales. They will also identify situations in which synergies and trade-offs between different ecosystem services emerge, emphasizing the effect on sensible areas and projects, such as dams and urban areas. The combination of stakeholders and scientists will allow to generate a holistic synthesis of the main patterns and processes of forest dynamics that occurred in the Andes in the beginning of the 21st century. This synthesis will help to identify research issues and to propose management policies for the local Lules watershed. Reciprocally, the research in this representative and well-known watershed will be useful to inform management strategies throughout the Andes.

The workshop will be held on 28 to 30 November 2018 and is by invitation only. It is organized by the Regional Ecology Institute in Tucumán and will be conducted in Spanish.