The restoration of China's Loess Plateau is unmatched in scale, yet the allure of non-native species to engineer a desired outcome in the landscape is common globally.
With changing climate and increasing populations, we need to restore landscapes to ensure the resilience of ecosystem services in the 21st century recognizing that cultural diversity is as important as biodiversity in restoration decisions.
A new collaboration between WRI and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture lets users of Global Forest Watch visualize and analyze tree cover loss alerts for all of Latin America with a near-real time deforestation monitoring system called Terra-i.
Between 2001 and 2012, Latin America and the Caribbean lost 36 million hectares of forest and grassland to agricultural expansion, and nearly half of the region's greenhouse gas emissions are the result of land-use change, forestry, and agriculture. So there’s a clear solution to curbing climate change in the LAC region—restore life to its degraded landscapes.
Imagine that we have the chance to cut greenhouse gas emissions, boost household incomes and increase crop yields, while making vulnerable areas more resilient to severe weather and improving the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest regions.
The fact is, we could do all this and more by restoring the world’s degraded landscapes to productive, sustainable use.
The New York Declaration on Forests set a global target to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded forest landscapes by 2030. WRI and IUCN helped get consensus on the long-term goal, encouraged national leaders to announce country-specific contributions, and developed maps and analyses documenting restoration's benefits in some countries.
We all depend on forests for water, food, livelihoods, shelter, wood products and medicines, as well as to stabilize weather and climate and support biodiversity. Yet since the dawn of agriculture, nearly 30 percent of global forests have been cleared, with another 20 percent degraded, making billions of hectares underproductive.
In 2011, signatories to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) committed to restore 15 percent of all degraded ecosystems by 2020. Also in 2011, the Bonn Challenge sought to restore 150 million hectares by 2020. But few governments would commit to specific restoration targets without knowing how much land could be restored, where it was, or what the economic and social benefits might be.
WRI and partners, notably the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), worked with the 2014 UN Climate Summit organizers to get forest landscape restoration on the agenda. The two organizations helped build upon previous targets to get consensus on a longer-term restoration goal, and they encouraged national leaders to announce country-specific contributions. With support from the German government, WRI and IUCN developed national-level maps and analyses for some countries, documenting restoration’s benefits and showing which lands might most feasibly be restored.
On September 23, 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests was announced with 130 signatories from government, civil society, indigenous peoples and companies, setting a global target to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded forest landscapes by 2030. The same day, Ethiopia, Colombia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala and Chile committed to contribute 28 million hectares toward the new target, building on 20 million hectares pledged earlier. These contributions make it more likely that countries will commit domestic resources and international funding sources will support their efforts, building momentum for a game-changing global restoration movement.