New Sustainability Index for Restoration to help El Salvador revitalize its landscapes

February 1, 2019

by Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, El Salvador

Puedes leer este artículo en español aquí y ver un resumen del video aquí.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador presented the Sustainability Index for Restoration (ISR), made up of eight sub-indexes that measure the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of landscape restoration actions.

Minister Lina Pohl explained that the results of each index are a useful tool to strengthen and guide restoration efforts based on strong criteria and sound socio-environmental principles.

The eight sub-indices that make up the formula represent different dimensions of environmental change; and the combination of these biophysical and socioeconomic aspects have the potential to contribute to achieving a more resilient landscape.

1) Water Quality Index (ICA): measures the water quality of surface water bodies.

2) Flow Index (IQ): measures the increases in flow of rivers in the chosen landscape.

3) Soil Quality Index (ICS): Through three components, it measures the quality of the soils.

4) Index of Landscape Biodiversity (IBP)L composed of five numerical measures used in landscape ecology to identify the composition, the type of soil cover, the morphology of different elements of the landscape, their fragmentation of these elements and their connectivity.

5) Additional Carbon Index (ICO2): measures the impact of restoration actions on carbon fixation and how it contributes to mitigating climate change.

6) Additional Work Index (ITA): measures the improvement of the livelihoods of the populations living in restored areas.

7) Vulnerability Reduction Index (VRI): identifies ways to reduce environmental risks.

8) Landscape Governance Index (IGP): uses a novel methodology that can measure how a landscape is governed. For example, it measures how information is coordinated, made accessible, used, and generated.

Results of the pilot study:

The Apaneca-Ilamatepec Biosphere Reserve and the El Imposible-Barra de Santiago Conservation Zone, as a whole, was the pilot region for  the Sustainability Index for Restoration (ISR).

Overall, the ISR for the El Imposible-Barra de Santiago and Apaneca-Ilamatepec region, in general terms, had a value of 0.42 (out of 1) for 2017. The Landscape Biodiversity Index (PPI) and the Water Quality Index (ICA) earned the highest scores.

The 2017 ICA reports improvements in almost all the rivers of the country, of which 27% have increased their quality to "good." This improvement is even greater in chosen landscape, where water quality reached "very good." The results of ICO2 and ITA clearly reflect the impact of restoration actions, and because this landscape has only recently been brought under restoration, they have only modest values.

The presentation of this new measurement formula was chaired by the heads of MARN, Minister Lina Pohl and Deputy Minister Ángel Ibarra;  World Resources Institute (WRI)'s regional Director of Forests, Javier Warman; the executive director of the Prisma Foundation, Nelson Cuéllar, and Karen Sánchez, trustee of the Management Committee of the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Biosphere Reserve.

The ISR formula was created within the framework of the Ecosystem and Landscape Restoration Program (PREP), which MARN has implemented at the national level. The preparation of this product was supported by WRI and the PRISMA Foundation with the participation of MARN specialists, together with support from GIZ, FIAES, CRS, GEF / UNDP-Wetlands and CENSALUD-UES.

Learn more about the Index here (in Spanish).