Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration Dr. Peter H

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  • Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration

    Travelling Fellowship Report

    Dr. Peter H. Whitbread-Abrutat May 2012

  • Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration

    Dr. Peter H. Whitbread-Abrutat 2

    The Winston Churchill

    Memorial Trust

    The Winston Churchill Memorial

    Trust was established in 1965 when

    the great man died. As a mark of

    respect and gratitude for the man

    and his legendary leadership, thousands of people from the UK and overseas

    generously donated £3 million so that a living memorial to him could benefit

    future generations of British people.

    The fund supports annually around 100 Travelling Fellowships and ten

    bursaries at Churchill College, University of Cambridge. The objective of the

    Travelling Fellowships is to enable British citizens to travel overseas on a

    worthwhile enterprise of the own choosing, with the aim of enriching their

    lives by the skills they gain and, on their return, enhancing the life of their

    community by their example and the dissemination of the benefit of their

    travels. These opportunities are provided to people of any age, gender,

    ethnicity, or religion, with or without educational qualifications and in any

    occupation or none.

    Travelling Fellowships allow travel to almost anywhere in the world under a

    diverse range of project themes. The purpose of such a fellowship is to widen

    an individual’s experience in such a way that he or she grows in confidence,

    knowledge, authority and ambition, and to bring benefit to others in the UK

    through sharing the results of the experience. This is achieved through:

     The inspiration provided by the individual’s example – his or her

    subsequent performance and achievements, and

     The dissemination and application of new knowledge, different

    perspectives and innovative solutions.

    Since 1966 some 4,450 fellowships have been awarded. In 2011, 105

    fellowships were awarded for projects of between four and eight weeks.

    For more details about the Trust and its work, and for information on how to

    apply, visit www.wcmt.org.uk.

    Front cover photo: The road west to Estancia Menelik, thence the distant Andes of Argentine


  • Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration

    Dr. Peter H. Whitbread-Abrutat 3


    Combating land degradation is one of global society’s major environmental challenges; the

    decay of our terrestrial resource directly affects the lives and futures of countless millions of

    people around the world. Restoring degraded landscapes is, therefore, a powerful way to

    rebuild ecological integrity and enhance the lives and livelihoods of people connected with

    them, for the long term.

    In 2011 I received a Travelling Fellowship from the UK’s Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to

    ; so, between 16 October and 15 DecemberExplore World Class Landscape Restoration

    2011 I travelled through the Americas visiting the people, projects and places of some of the

    world’s most significant landscape restoration projects. This report is the story of those


    At the outset, I define landscape restoration as:

    The improvement of degraded land on a large scale that rebuilds ecological integrity and

    enhances people’s lives.

    This definition is deliberately and conveniently broad in order to encompass a diverse range

    of ambitions, activities, scales, environments and societies and end-uses.

    Landscape restoration, as defined above, should aim to reconcile economic, social and

    environmental concerns within a holistic framework; the best projects utilise environmental

    improvements as drivers for socio-economic regeneration; less commonly, but more

    effectively, socio-economic development can be used to generate enduring environmental


    My fellowship aimed to:

    1. Identify and understand the main challenges to delivering world class landscape

    restoration projects.

    2. Identify and understand the elements of success required to deliver world class

    landscape restoration projects.

    3. Develop a set of generic recommendations that should apply to almost any project

    almost anywhere.

    I took a pragmatic rather an academic or philosophical approach to meeting these

    objectives, which involved visiting the projects, meeting the people behind them and

    reviewing relevant literature before, during and after the visits.

    At all times I was concerned with relating my findings back to Cornwall’s china clay mining

    district in south-west England – an area dogged by diverse political interests, social decline

    and environmental degradation, but now on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation

    regeneration opportunity.

    My fellowship involved visiting a range of scales and types of landscape restoration projects

    and meeting the people behind them. The approach focused primarily on what could be

  • Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration

    Dr. Peter H. Whitbread-Abrutat 4

    learned from first-hand, on-the-ground experiences that would be of use to other groups in

    other places struggling to deliver their own projects.

    The places and projects that I visited were:

     The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative and allied projects of the eastern

    initiative that aims to restore the region’sUSA’s central Appalachian coalfields – an

    diverse temperate forest after extensive denudation by mountaintop removal


     The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and allied projects of Florida’s

    – a multi-billion dollar programme to restore a more natural hydrology toEverglades

    the Everglades to ensure water supplies for people, industry and the ecosystem’s

    unique ecology.

     where the restoration ofCosta Rica’s Area de Conservacion Guanacaste dry tropical

    on degraded farmland has been underway for decades, alongside theforests

    simultaneous encouragement of a new economy based on conservation and eco-


     , which aims to reverseTropical island restoration in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands

    the damage caused by introduced species and poorly-planned development.

     The REGUA, Serra da Concordia Wildlife Sanctuary, SOS Mata Atlantica and Atlantic

    , all working towardsForest Restoration Pact projects of Brazil’s eastern seaboard

    – one of the most important and degraded forestsrestoring the Atlantic Rainforest

    in the world.

     Three enormous mines in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest, namely: Carajas iron mine

    , all concerned withand Trombetas and Juruti aluminium mines re-growing the

    after its land has been mined, and incorporating forest-derivedAmazon rainforest

    socio-economic opportunities for local people in the future.

     Pumalin Park, future Patagonia National Park and Estancia Menelik in Chilean and

    , which are creating, through restoration,Argentine Patagonia new regional

    based on conservation, responsible farming practices and eco-tourism.economies

    The fellowship focused mainly on projects in Latin America because:

     Environmental awareness is arguably at an earlier stage than in Europe and North


     Social and economic development are prime objectives of Latin American

    governments and societies, implying that landscape restoration projects there really

    need to incorporate these issues at the outset; and

     I was told that there is nothing interesting happening in terms of landscape

    restoration in Latin America!

    This report is structured simply by destination in visit order, in which each project is

    described with associated conclusions and lessons. The final section, “Making Sense of it

    All”, attempts to draw lessons from the experience and derive generic recommendations of

    broad applicability.

  • Exploring World Class Landscape Restoration

    Dr. Peter H. Whitbread-Abrutat 5

    The report is intended neither as an academic treatise nor a formal consultancy document,

    but as a personal, practical account and analysis of my findings on the ground. It is aimed at

    anyone with an interest in landscape restoration and learning from the experiences of

    others. I have briefly included in the final section a summary of the key stages in an “ideal”

    landscape restoration a project, which could be used as a starting point for others

    contemplating pursuing their own projects. Ultimately, the report aims to inform, stimulate

    and inspire thinking on landscape restoration possibilities and opportunities elsewhere.

    Complementing this report is the separate story of the journey itself, which has been

    written-up as a travel blog, available at www.petewa.blogspot.com, with many photographs

    of the above projects and locations.

    Based on my fellowship and other experiences, I have attempted to draw out the key

    challenges likely to be experienced by landscape restoration projects and briefly discuss how

    these have been overcome in real situations. It goes without saying that all these challenges

    have been overcome somewhere at some time by a combination of creative thinking,

    collaboration, trust, necessity and dedic