Boti Falls is a 30m high waterfall within the Boti Forest Reserve about 30 minutes east of Koforidua, Ghana. Photo: Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.
Boti Falls is a 30m high waterfall within the Boti Forest Reserve about 30 minutes east of Koforidua, Ghana. Photo: Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.

Apart from being invaluable in connecting us to nature, forests provide resources that we depend on for our livelihoods – food, fuel, water, and habitats for birds and animals. Also, forests maintain Earth’s biodiversity, water resources, protect soil, and play an important role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon.

That’s the good news, now for the bad. Over the last century, farms and businesses have cleared half of the world’s forest-covered areas, reducing them from 8 billion to 4 billion hectares, for economic activity and food production including animal grazing, and growing highly profitable crops like beef, soy and oil palms. Deforestation is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and every year, 8 million hectares of forests are lost.

So, what steps can be taken to address this?

As individuals, help protect forests by becoming responsible consumers – making sure the products we buy are from sustainable sources.

Watch this video to see how intrinsically tied our lives are to forests, and what we can do to protect them.

Did you know that palm oil is in about every processed food we eat? In Indonesia, paper and palm oil development has been critical to economic activity, with Indonesia producing more palm oil than any other country in the world. The loss of forest blocs to oil palm plantations is threatening species like the orangutan and elephants by destroying their homes, and is causing massive forest fires.

Watch below to see GEF staff, partners and local experts take stock of the destruction caused by oil palm plantations in Indonesia, and listen to their views on the strategic alliances needed to take deforestation out of our commodity supply chains.

As institutions, work on integrated solutions 

The GEF and partners like the World Bank are coming together to protect forests.

In Africa, forests, landscapes, and ecosystems contribute directly to the well-being and food security of poor people. According to the World Bank Forest Action Plan, the impact of forests on poverty is greatest in Africa, with forest-related income lifting 11% of rural households out of extreme poverty.

At a special screening event at the World Bank January 25th, Benoit Bosquet, Practice Manager for Environment and Natural Resources introduced a video on advancing REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) efforts by engaging communities in sustainable forest management.

“The World Bank is supporting African countries with programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Benoit Bosquet, Practice Manager. “The efforts build the resilience of forest ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities who depend of them. These videos give a voice to the often unheard forest communities seeking a better future.”

Watch this video to see how communities in Ghana are reaping benefits from engaging the people in sustainable forest management practices. This video is first of a series launched by the Bank that explores forests and livelihoods in Africa.

Over the past 25 years, the GEF has funded more than 380 forest-related projects, with $2.1 billion invested leveraging an additional $9.5 billion for sustainable forestry. 

Through our Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) strategy, the GEF invests in projects that integrate biodiversity, climate change and land degradation, and supports forest-related activities within two integrated approach pilot programs: Sustainable Cities – Harnessing Local Action for Global Commons and Taking Deforestation out of Commodity Supply Chains.

“The GEF has been promoting SFM around the world for over 20 years. Since the beginning of its 6th replenishment cycle in 2014, the GEF invested around $700 million that leveraged an additional $3.8 billion to support all types of forests,” said Pascal Martinez, Senior Climate Change Specialist at the GEF. “The GEF’s approach is significantly contributing to REDD+, addressing forests in a holistic manner, and recognizing that our objectives to conserve biodiversity, combat land degradation and mitigate climate change can only be achieved if we meet the needs of local communities, women and forest-dependent people.”

The GEF also works on forest and landscape restoration – bringing barren and degraded areas back to life – through programs such as the Sahel and West Africa Program (SAWAP), which supports the Great Green Wall Initiative. It aims to establish a green belt of productive lands and forests along the edge of the Sahara Desert to battle desertification and soil degradation, while tackling poverty.

The GEF is committed to helping preserve forests for future generations: for species survival, for our livelihoods and for a healthy planet.

I hope that seeing our work on video helped you understand how we, as humans, may be part of the problem, but we are also part of the solution!

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