The Restoration of Africa’s Lost Forests

lost forests
More than a dozen African nations and the World Bank have committed $1.6 billion to the restoration of 100 million hectares of the lost forests across Africa by 2030, combating climate change and poverty. The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, referred to as AFR100, is working to reverse the ravaging effects that deforestation has had on the landscape.

The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, referred to as AFR100, is working to reverse the ravaging effects that deforestation has had on the landscape.

The project is expected to improve soil quality and fertility, water resources, food security and biodiversity throughout the region. So far, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Uganda and Rwanda have pledged to restore more than 42 hectares of lost forests — an area larger than Germany.

AFR100 is expected to dramatically improve the region’s environmental health and prosperity. As a result, countries will benefit from increased land productivity and profitability.

Dr. Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources to the Associated Press that “With forest landscape restoration we’ve seen agricultural yields rise and farmers in our rural communities diversify their livelihoods and improve their wellbeing.”

The project comes on the tails of a successful forest restoration campaign in Ethiopia. During the Ethiopia initiative, one sixth of the nation’s land was restored, which is the equivalent of England and Wales combined.

Similarly, in Burkina Faso, more than 200,000 hectares of land has been restored, increasing food production by approximately 80,000 tons per year and feeding an additional 500,000 people.

Climate change expert and Green Belt Movement (GBM) International Director, Pauline Kamau told the Guardian that restoration of lost forests is key to the health and sustainability of the population.

“Africa is already experiencing some of the most dramatic extreme temperature events ever seen. Without action to reduce emissions, average annual temperatures on the continent are likely to rise 3-4C by the end of the century and [there could be] a 30% reduction in rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Kamau. “ Restoring degraded lands can both help rein in warming and adapt to higher temperatures.”

Climate change experts and the more than a dozen participants in AFR100 are excited for both the environmental and societal benefits. Wanjira Mathai, chair of the Green Belt Movement and daughter of the Nobel peace prize laureate Wangari Maathai, said, “Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins.”

Wanjira Mathai, chair of the Green Belt Movement and daughter of the Nobel peace prize laureate Wangari Maathai, said, “Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins.”

Claire Colby

Sources: Associated Press, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2
Photo: Flickr