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Sustainable Development Goal 15 aims to improve the management of forests, combat desertification, reverse land degradation and preserve biodiversity. It recognizes that poverty reduction, healthy land and vibrant ecosystems all go together.

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As momentum builds towards the climate negotiations in Paris, national governments are being asked to consider how their countries will contribute to a low-carbon, climate resilient future. With support from international efforts like the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests, many countries are committing to restore degraded land and forests to offset emissions as they improve household income and food security. But while these international frameworks and national commitments are important, it is often the states, provinces and districts that must go beyond commitment to take action.

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Last month, 40 nations agreed to restore 5 million hectares (12.4 million acres) of degraded lands and areas of low-quality bamboo production into productive, healthy bamboo forests at the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan’s (INBAR) Ninth Council Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This pledge will help answer the Bonn Challenge—an effort to pledge to have 150 million hectares (370 million acres) of degraded and deforested lands in restoration programs by 2020—and could create significant environmental and climate benefits, if bamboo can overcome its image problem.

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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.

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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.

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