The US Forest Service has to fight fires with the money meant to prevent tomorrow's, creating a massive budget shortfall for forest restoration. Amid a terrible fire season for the U.S. western states, a new financial instrument can help stakeholders who want to see fires prevented meet that need.
Sean DeWitt, director of the Global Restoration Initiative, and Miguel Calmon, WRI Brasil director of forests, say forest restoration means this generation can be the first to leave the planet better off than they found it.
Companies from Kenya to the United States are making money by restoring degraded forests and landscapes.
Restored landscapes deliver both income and capital gains.
Capital is essential for restoration projects to deliver financial, environmental and social returns. WRI's new roadmap offers four steps to help restoration companies attract investment.
As one of the world's largest emitters and a growing economy, Brazil has the potential to act as a global leader for nations transitioning to low-carbon economies. Such leadership must be viewed beyond geopolitical status; it is a strategy that will reward countries with social, economic and environmental gains.
WRI worked with partners to establish AFR100, an African-led initiative that helps advance the African Union goal of restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land. To date, AFR100 partner countries have committed to bring 63.3 million hectares of land into restoration by 2030 and nearly $1.5 billion has been earmarked to support the 100 million hectare target.
Nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
Partners including The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), the World Bank, and WRI supported the establishment of AFR100 and attracted additional financial and technical partners. The partnership includes investors, in-country partners like the Green Belt Movement and Kijani (Forests for Change) in Kenya, and longstanding global partners such as the Global Environment Facility, IUCN, FAO, and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). This extensive partner network reinforces critical links between AFR100 and the Bonn Challenge, the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative, and other restoration initiatives.
To secure political commitments to AFR100, partners worked with national stakeholders to underscore the close alignment between restoration and numerous sustainable development goals. Partners also provided analyses to decision-makers showing where restoration is already happening, the size and location of restoration opportunities, and pathways for scaling up restoration. AFR100 was influenced by Initiative 20x20, an effort to restore 20 million hectares (nearly 50 million acres) in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020, for which WRI is the secretariat.
AFR100 connects political partners – participating African nations – with technical and financial support to assess restoration opportunities, develop strategies, and implement restoration on the ground at scale. To date, 21 AFR100 partner countries have committed to bring 63.3 million hectares (156 million acres) – an area nearly the size of France – into the process of restoration by 2030. Financial partners have earmarked $481 million in private finance and $1 billion in development finance to support the 100 million hectare target. Many AFR100 partner countries are beginning to scale up proven restoration approaches and monitor their progress.
Forest Resilience Bonds are a new investment instrument; money is fronted to pay for forest restoration, which improves water quality and reduces fires, with beneficiaries offering dividends.
Restoring degraded landscapes and forests has the potential to enhance social and economic well-being while delivering powerful environmental benefits. The challenge is getting the funding to make that happen.