The federal government of Ethiopia set a national target to restore 15 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2030. While forest and landscape restoration governance is intended to be a multi-actor process through which various land uses are coordinated, in practice it turns out to be difficult to bring specialized government agencies together to achieve restoration targets. We conducted a policy document review, 56 semi-structured interviews and 14 focus group discussions to understand the different challenges that exist in the governance of forest and landscape restoration in Ethiopia. We found three cross-sector challenges that influence the way in which national restoration targets are implemented at the local level in Ethiopia: 1) food security dominates the restoration policy frame and budgetary allocation at the expense of alternative restoration pathways that foster forestry livelihoods and biodiversity benefits, 2) agricultural and environmental policy objectives and targets, and restoration mandates at the sub-national level are incoherent, and 3) a siloed land use planning instrument makes it difficult to negotiate trade-offs and find synergies between sectoral policy objectives. Our results point out the need for an integrated land use planning instrument to achieve a wider range of restoration benefits. Given existing power imbalances between land-based sectors, we posit that an independent integrated land use planning authority that can draw on hierarchical authority is required to better balance different sector interests and different forms of conservation and restoration.

Keywords: Landscape restoration, Cross-sector, Forest, Governance

Authors: Daniel Wiegant, Stephanie Mansourian, Gete Zeleke, Art Dewulf

Environmental Science & Policy, 2023, 142, 89-98