African countries have experienced the world’s most extreme land degradation. This degradation is hindering Africa’s sustainable economic development and its resilience to climate change, but this cycle can be reversed. Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent in the world – more than 700 million hectares of degraded land, or an area the size of Australia. Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) can deliver significant benefits and restoration efforts have already proven successful in several African countries.
The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has joined forces with World Resources Institute (WRI) by providing initial funding to support an African-led initiative to restore millions of hectares of degraded forest lands. The initiative will mobilize financial and technical resources from multiple sources in order to help design and implement country-specific forest restoration strategies in partnership with NEPAD Agency and African governments. There are a number of ways to restore these landscapes in order to generate economic and social benefits, as well as help protect climate, biodiversity and rural livelihoods:
- Restore to mosaic landscape: Establish and manage trees on agricultural land, either through planting or natural regeneration. This practice is known as “agroforestry” when trees are intercropped with agricultural crops, and “silvopasture” when trees are integrated into livestock production systems.
- Restore to forests: Planting or natural regeneration of trees on degraded or deforested land. Degraded land can be restored to natural forests for ecosystem services and a carbon sink. In some cases, degraded land can also be restored into productive forests for timber, fuelwood and other forest products.
What is AFR100?
The objective of the African Restoration Initiative (AFR100) is to facilitate the first-ever African regional initiative on forest landscape restoration with a collective goal to bring 100 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes into the process of restoration by 2030. AFR100 seeks to realize the benefits that trees can provide in African landscapes, thereby contributing to improved soil fertility and food security, improved availability and quality of water resources, reduced desertification, increased biodiversity, creation of green jobs, economic growth, and increased capacity for climate change resilience, adaptation and mitigation. Through AFR100, national governments, regional institutions, public and private sector partners and international development programs will restore productivity to deforested and degraded landscapes in order to improve livelihoods.
Benefits of AFR100 to Improve Livelihoods
Restoration’s benefits extend well beyond an increase in the density of trees on the land, as has been demonstrated in many areas across the continent. Forest landscape restoration can:
- Boost landscape productivity
- Improve food and water security
- Increase climate change resilience
- Reduce disaster risk
- Combat desertification
- Conserve biodiversity
AFR100 also seeks to ensure that restoration is carried out in ways that balance social, economic and environmental objectives as articulated by the "landscape approach" especially in regard to the participation of women, local communities and vulnerable people.