AFR100 to restore 100 million hectares of land in Africa

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thezimbabwean.co.uk, Paris, France

 

African countries have launched African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), a Pan-African, country-led effort to restore 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2030.

The AFR100 target of 100 million hectares has been endorsed by the African Union. So far 10 African countries have agreed to join AFR100 and committed at least 31.7 million hectares of land for forest landscape restoration. AFR100 partners are earmarking more than USD $1 billion in development finance and more than $540 million in private sector impact investment to support restoration activities.

The Countries that have agreed to join the AFR100 initiative include Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda.

The announcement was made during the Global Landscapes Forum at the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, where forest landscape restoration is a key ingredient of the global movement to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Commitments made through AFR100 build on significant climate pledges made by many African countries to support a binding global climate agreement.

“Restoring our landscapes brings prosperity, security and opportunity,” said Dr Vincent Biruta, Minister of Natural Resources in Rwanda.

“With forest landscape restoration we’ve seen agricultural yields rise and farmers in our rural communities diversify their livelihoods and improve their well-being. Forest landscape restoration is not just an environmental strategy, it is an economic and social development strategy as well,” he added.

For the first time, AFR100 brings together political leadership with an ambitious package of financial and technical resources to support a large-scale forest landscape restoration effort across Africa. Nine financial partners and 10 technical assistance providers have pledged support, led by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Agency), Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and World Resources Institute (WRI).

“The scale of these new restoration commitments is unprecedented,” said Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Green Belt Movement and daughter of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai. “I have seen restoration in communities both large and small across Africa, but the promise of a continent-wide movement is truly inspiring. Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins.”

AFR100 builds on the climate commitments made by African countries. So far, 13 of the INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) submitted by African countries include restoration, conservation of standing forests, or “climate-smart” agriculture. According to WRI analysis, following through on the commitments would cumulatively reduce emissions by 1.2 Gt CO2eq over the next 10 years, or 36 percent of Africa’s annual emissions and 0.25 percent of global emissions.

“Restoration is really Africa’s gift to the world,” said Dr Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute. “As the world forges a climate agreement in Paris, African countries— which bear the least historic responsibility for climate change-- are showing leadership with ambitious pledges to restore land. These countries are well on their way to meet the goal of restoring 100 million hectares of land, which will help sequester carbon and bring economic benefits to low-income, rural communities. These African leaders are turning their words into action and making a real contribution to respond to the global threat of climate change.”

AFR100 recognizes the benefits that forests and trees can provide in African landscapes: improved soil fertility and food security, greater availability and quality of water resources, reduced desertification, increased biodiversity, green jobs, economic growth, and increased capacity for climate change resilience and mitigation. Forest landscape restoration has the potential to improve livelihoods, especially for women. For example, 20 years ago, women in southern Niger spent an average of 2.5 hours daily collecting firewood, which was scarce in the degraded landscape. Now they prune on-farm trees saving two hours a day, time that can be spent on other income generating activities.

Commitments announced through AFR100 also support the Bonn Challenge, a global target to bring 150 million hectares of land into restoration by 2020 adopted in Germany in 2011, the New York Declaration on Forests that extends that challenge to 350 million hectares by 2030, and the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative (ARLI), an initiative to promote integrated landscape management with the goal of adapting to and mitigating climate change. With these new partners, the Bonn Challenge process has surpassed the 100 m hectare mark, on track to meet its goal well ahead of the 2020 target date.

AFR100 builds on a strong tradition of successful forest landscape restoration in Africa. In Ethiopia’s Tigray region, local communities have already restored over 1 million hectares, making the land more drought-resistant. In Niger, farmers have increased the number of on-farm trees across 5 million hectares of agricultural landscapes, improving food security for 2.5 million people. AFR100 will provide a forum for countries and communities to share knowledge and resources to achieve restoration at a greater scale.

“We know that restoration works for Africa. We’ve seen it work in countries as diverse as Malawi, Ethiopia, and Mali,” said Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD and former Prime Minister of Niger. “But we need to scale up restoration across the whole continent- more than 700 million hectares of land in Africa have potential for restoration. AFR100 provides a platform to work together more effectively to accelerate the achievement of restoration successes to benefit tens of millions of people who are currently searching for ways to adapt to climate change and improve their well-being.”

AFR100 will help to translate ambitious commitments into action with support from private sector investors, foundations, development banks, and bilateral and multilateral funders. AFR100 will leverage a variety of financing, including grants, equity investments, loans, risk management guarantees and funds for specific interventions.

So far, AFR100 partners have set forth over USD $1 billion of development financing.

Through AFR100, we expect to trigger one of the largest investments in forest landscape restoration the world has ever seen," said H.E. Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany. “This investment is vital for empowering local communities to scale up the inspiring restoration successes we’ve seen in Africa over the last decade.”

In addition to new financing, a coalition of organizations will provide technical assistance on a wide range of activities, including the mapping of restoration opportunities, securing further financing, and implementing restoration efforts on the ground. Partners include World Resources Institute (WRI), Clinton Foundation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), Kijani, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Agency), The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative (LPFN), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).