“We were able to add ROAM as a specific methodological framework within the broader courses that ELTI had already developed,” said Karin Bucht
’15 M.F., program associate for the online training program, who facilitated the English and French courses.
“It’s not a roadmap for how to plant trees, but rather a combination of mapping, engaging with different stakeholders, cost-benefit analyses, and conducting all the necessary analysis to decide where to restore, with whom, and make sure that it is in line with local values and feasible areas.”
A guiding principle of the course is that there is no single approach to restoring forest landscapes and the critical ecosystem services they provide. Instead, the courses share a process for analyzing the ecological conditions, disturbance history, sociopolitical and cultural aspects, potential landscape restoration interventions, and monitoring strategies that are appropriate for different locations.
Each week, participants were asked to review online resources — including video packages and several case studies. “For example, in the course for eastern and southern Africa, we were able to share with, say, participants from Malawi what has been achieved in Rwanda and Uganda, while also providing intercontinental examples of FLR experiences in Mexico, Colombia, Indonesia, and the Philippines,” said Bloomfield.
Then, participants convened weekly for a live online group discussion. In addition to hearing live lectures, the format also enabled participants to share their own experiences and discuss challenges with classmates working on similar projects.
Their weekly homework assignments included final planning projects relevant to their own professional responsibilities. “So when we talk about forest ecology and landscape restoration, the participants have to address the specific ecosystems within their region or country,” said Bloomfield. “They also have to discuss how they’re going to engage in this ROAM methodology and which landscape restoration strategies are most appropriate for their situations — both ecologically and from a socio-political perspective.”
In the six courses, from May 2016 to March 2017, instructors trained 125 participants from 32 countries, representing 70 different organizations, including government ministry-level and other senior-level professionals around the world, including from the World Bank.
or many of these participants, the outcomes can include very real and tangible benefits.
Many, for instance, are working to come up with practical strategies to meet very real environmental targets — including within countries that have made commitments to the Bonn Challenge, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Paris Agreement, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and Land Degradation Neutrality Goal.
In many cases, the personal projects materialized as plans that could be implemented almost immediately. For instance, one participant, a program manager for a consulting firm in Rwanda, produced a 17-page district-wide planning document complete with historical and social context, descriptive goals and next steps, proposed actions by a range of collaborators, and suggested follow-up strategies.
Speaking about the course in a post-course interview, another participant from the Philippines’ Forest Management Bureau said “Through the interaction with participants from different countries, I got to learn from their experiences on how to engage with stakeholders across social, geographic, and cultural borders. Now, I reference lessons and case studies from other countries in our program’s planning.”
“We know nations are struggling with a lot of questions,” said Kuzee. “And we know we can’t be everywhere. So having the multiplier effect that this platform provides, and where all those peers can meet, it’s really great.”
ince the completion of the online course series, ELTI and IUCN have been connecting with the participants about their work implementing ROAM and FLR in their respective countries. In August 2017, they published the book entitled “Leaders in Action: Online Learning for Forest Landscape Restoration,” which includes a collection of stories that illustrate the diverse ways in which participants, using the lessons from these courses, have made profound and positive impacts.
Additionally, the training course series inspired an April 2017 course offered to World Bank employees. Since January, ELTI and IUCN have been co-developing and delivering a series of “blended” online and field training courses for decision-makers in Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire, and Uganda. Each of these five trainings incorporate a two week online “primer” to offer participants key concepts and international case studies, followed by a four-day interactive workshop with field visits in-country. This series is being offered in collaboration with the secretariat for TerrAfrica at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD),
the technical body of the African Union.