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Forest Restoration Strategies for Modified Landscapes


Panama along with much of the Neotropics has suffered high levels of deforestation and forest degradation in the last century. In addition, the vital provision and regulation of ecosystem services by forests have also been diminished, threatening human livelihoods and economic stability. However, more recently the value of tropical forests has been recognized and knowledge of their management and restoration has been gained from increases in scientific research. Due to recent environmental legislation and the increase of reforestation activities in Panama, deforestation rates in Panama have slowed. One recently announced reforestation effort called “Panama’s Alliance for 1-Million,” is a public-private partnership between Panama’s Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente), Panama’s Association for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON), the Panama Association for Reforestation (ANARAP), and the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture (CCIAP), which aims to reforest one million hectares over 20 years as well as strengthen Panama’s forest sector and meet the goals of Panama’s National Forestry strategy.

Despite this new wave of information and efforts, forest restoration knowledge has not effectively been transmitted to various bodies of decision makers and many restoration projects have been misguided. Failures in forest restoration are costly and result in loss of public confidence for these efforts. In order to help guide informed decision making about the management, use and restoration of tropical forests the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) has been facilitating conferences and training courses since 2007 in order to provide different stakeholders with the knowledge and tools on how to conserve and restore forests and biodiversity in the tropical regions of Latin America and Asia.

In order to transmit the most advanced methods of forest restoration, ELTI delivers field-based training courses at their Focal Training Site, established within STRI’s Agua Salud Project area, located in the Panama Canal Watershed. ELTI’s training site conveys ecological principles and innovative applied-ecological restoration research through its interpretative trail network and demonstration sites. In addition, the course will highlight Agua Salud research, which seeks to understand and quantify the ecological, social and economic services provided by tropical forests in the Panama Canal Watershed undergoing different types of land use and the effects of climate change. This research site, while being a controlled experiment, illustrates the challenges and effects of implementing forest restoration in dynamic and complex landscapes.
Over two days through lectures and field visits, this course aims to provide the technical basis necessary to design and implement restoration strategies to increase forest cover and the provision and regulation of ecosystem goods and services in modified landscapes. The course has been designed to convey the advances in ecology and restoration of ecosystem services to participants through a series of field-based observations and exercises. The course will be offered to officials and extensionists from MiAmbiente who are charged with implementing reforestation efforts in collaboration with the 1-Million Alliance. These participants will have the opportunity to learn and exchange experiences, concepts and practical tools with ELTI facilitators and international experts.


Module 1: Theoretical approaches to forest restoration

  • Forest ecology and ecosystem services
  • Drivers of forest degradation and limits to restoration
  • An introduction to strategies for forest restoration (ranging from passive to active restoration strategies)
  • Challenges and opportunities for restoration in modified landscapes

Module 2: Practical approaches to forest restoration

  • Restoring forest function for the provision and regulation of ecosystem services
  • Comparison of passive and active forest restoration strategies
  • Silvopastoral systems as a restoration strategy in ranching landscapes
  • Site diagnostics and forest restoration strategy planning