Evaluation of the Forest Landscape Integrity Index and the potential for application to monitoring forest conservation outcomes
To halt the global biodiversity crisis, the coordination of different actors at different scales (global, national, and institutional) are joining efforts for conservation and restoration. In this context, managing degraded areas is vital because, with appropriate management, they can still store similar values of carbon to primary forest and provide other important ecosystem services. Thus, identifying degraded areas could promote conservation and restoration opportunities for biodiversity and nature’s contribution to people.
Integrity metrics have the potential to be useful for planning and monitoring forest restoration programs. Having a clear metric can help establish target-settings in policies and reporting losses and gains in restoration initiatives, and therefore, enhance comparison and progress of restoration programs among regions. However, monitoring restoration when using integrity is not an easy task, as in many cases, a binary definition of integrity involves a pre-established and arbitrary threshold (e.g., tree cover less than 20% as defined as zero integrity).
In this collaboration between World Conservation Society (WCS) and Institute for Capacity Exchange in Environmental Decisions (formerly International Institute for Sustainability Australia), we aimed at exploring the opportunities and barriers of using the Forest Landscape Integrity Index (Grantham et al., 2020) as a tool for monitoring restoration efforts. The Forest Landscape Integrity Index (FLII) was designed to be “a globally consistent, continuous index of forest condition as determined by the degree of anthropogenic modification”. FLII has attracted substantial attention in the scientific literature since its publication in 2020, which indicates that FLII serves an important role that was previously well addressed by other analyses. Overall, this project reviewed the adoption of the FLII metric in conservation and research outside of WCS, analysed the potential for FLII to serve as a monitoring tool for conservation activities, and identified opportunities for adapting the metric to improve its relevance to conservation planning and monitoring.
Grantham, H.S. et al. (2020). Anthropogenic modification of forests means only 40% of remaining forests have high ecosystem integrity. Nature Communications, 11(1), 5978. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19493-3