The relevance of international restoration principles for ecosystem restoration practice in Rwanda

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The restoration of degraded ecosystems is considered a key strategy to contribute to ecological integrity and human well-being. To support restoration practice, 10 “Principles to guide the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030” were conceived through a consultative process and put forward by a group of leading international restoration actors. The extent to which these principles can inform successful restoration activities on the ground, however, remains largely unknown. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, we probed 32 stakeholders who plan, manage, and implement restoration in Rwanda to elicit which factors they perceive as most important for successful restoration based on the UN Decade principles. Using the Q-methodology, we discovered that participants overall agreed that the UN Decade principles are relevant to inform successful ecosystem restoration in the study area. Further, the Q-study revealed three distinct groups of stakeholders with different priorities in terms of opinions on restoration aims, stakeholder involvement, and relevant spatial scales. Based on semi-structured interviews, we identified four considerations for successful restoration that require special attention in future restoration interventions in the study area: (1) restoring historical conditions, (2) collecting baseline data, (3) increasing local communities' sense of ownership, and (4) pursuing a long-term vision for restoration activities. To address these considerations and thereby harvest the potential of ecosystem restoration to benefit both people and nature in the long run, diverse stakeholders with different priorities for restoration need to come together to discuss possible differences in their perceived priorities, perspectives, and approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14085
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number3
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 03.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank all interviewees for their collaboration and time. The authors thank G. Kamwezi for her support during fieldwork. This research was legally and ethically approved by the National Council for Science and Technology, Rwanda, and obtained ethical clearance from the University of Rwanda. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Restoration Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Ecological Restoration.

    Research areas

  • ecosystem restoration, forest landscape restoration, Q-methodology, social-ecological systems
  • Environmental planning