Increasingly, governments and policymakers in Asia are tasked with the challenge of balancing the needs of a diverse range of land users while ensuring the delivery of essential ecosystem services.

Ahead of COP26 in November 2021, Landscape Partnership Asia held a webinar on the opportunities of climate change adaptation and mitigation in drylands on 7 October 2021. The event brought together over 100 participants to learn from expert speakers about ways that decision-makers can capitalize on dryland restoration to support climate-change goals.

Boris Erg of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) emphasized the importance of drylands in Central Asia, specifically, focusing on their role as the world’s largest contiguous grazing area.

‘Maintaining the health of drylands helps to improve biodiversity as well as secure people’s cultural heritage,’ said Erg. ‘However, human activity on the land coupled with the effects of climate change have contributed to land degradation and limited the capacity of drylands to sequester carbon.’

To help reverse this trend, IUCN has created Global Standards for Nature-based Solutions, which have been applied to interventions in Central Asia in alignment with the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology.

Following Erg’s presentation, Ego Lemos of Permakultura Timor Lorosa’e (PERMATIL) discussed local strategies to restore drought-prone areas in Timor-Leste. He described the country’s environmental problems after independence, which included deforestation and loss of biodiversity. As a means to foster environmental awareness among communities in rural and urban areas, Lemos established PERMATIL in 2001.

‘PERMATIL has completed over 170 water-rehabilitation and conservation projects and taught more than 42,000 young people about permaculture with 254 school gardens,’ said Lemos.

PERMATIL has also published an open-access guidebook on tropical permaculture to help scale up restoration approaches in the region and beyond.

Observing more people seeking employment outside of the Asian drylands, Houria Djoudi of the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) conducted a study on human migration and restoration in Tajikistan. National and global policies on migration are often contradictory and the impact of remittances on restoration are not well understood.

‘We found that most migrants were male and nearly all households that received remittances expect to rely on this income in the next five years,’ she said. ‘These findings are significant for restoration as over 80 percent of respondents used remittances to purchase agricultural inputs alongside many investing in tree planting.’

She concluded her talk with suggestions for future research topics, such as the role of the diaspora in supporting restorative agriculture.

In the closing presentation, Veerachai Taninpat, advisor to Thailand’s Pollution Control Department, presented the role of greenhouse-gas emission offsets in the dryland ecosystems of Thailand. The global surface temperature has continued to hit a record high, with Asia’s temperature for June and August 2021 being the warmest in recorded history.

‘To mitigate the effects of global warming, greater action in reducing land-use emissions is needed,’ said Taninpat.

In addition to highlighting Thailand’s mitigation and adaptation priorities, he noted successful approaches to water and forest restoration that could be widely promoted through progressive policies. Such approaches improved food and income security and increased forest cover. Success hinged on multi-level collaboration between local people and the government.

The event was delivered in both English and Russian. Maaike Slotema of the Global EverGreening Alliance moderated the event and facilitated exchanges between participants and speakers.

The webinar was part of the Asian Drylands Knowledge Hub of the Landscape Partnership Asia, the largest initiative aiming to restore Asian drylands. The Partnership was founded by the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization, CIFOR-ICRAF, and Global EverGreening Alliance.

View the Webinar in English:

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