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.
The New York Declaration on Forests issued at the UN Climate Summit last month includes a global pledge to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes by 2030.
Several countries confirmed their commitment to restore millions of hectares of degraded land, with Ethiopia making one of the most significant pledges—setting a target to restore 15 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into productivity by 2025.
One of the most far-reaching of the commitments from the recent UN Climate Summit is the New York Declaration on Forests, which includes a plan restore 350 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes into productivity by 2030. While restoration holds great promise for many countries, this ambitious new target is especially important for Africa. As we’re already seeing, if done right, restoration could boost food and water security, improve livelihoods, and curb climate change in some of the most vulnerable regions on Earth.
Trees have become an iconic image of environmentalism, but that doesn't necessarily mean we should plant millions of them.
While scale is important for landscape restoration, we need to reconsider quality and not just quantity. When does the presence of a tree really make a difference, and when is it neither an environmental or economical solution to a host of complex issues? What are the implications for food security, biodiversity and landscape protection?