Healthy landscapes support a huge variety of land uses — from agriculture and agroforestry to wildlife reserves and ecological corridors to forests and plantations. They provide clean water, food and materials to build shelter for wildlife and humans alike. And they provide livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people.
Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) brings barren and degraded areas back to life. Not only does this restore biodiversity and revitalize local communities, it also contributes to climate change mitigation. Landscape restoration projects that regenerate forests, for example, create another “carbon sink” that contribute to climate change mitigation. Read more+
For all these reasons, forest and landscape restoration has become a priority on the international policy agenda:
- The UNFCC, CBD and UNCCD have all identified forest landscape restoration as an important component of reaching their goals.
- The Bonn Challenge seeks to restore 150 million ha of the world’s deforested lands by 2020.
- The New York Declaration on Forests – often called the “expanded Bonn Challenge” — sets a goal of restoring another 200 million ha. Achieving the expanded goal of 350 million ha would generate at least US$170 billion per year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields and forest products, alongside carbon sequestration. It could also reduce conflict in some fragile states.
- Initiative 20x20, which will also support the Bonn Challenge, aims to restore 20 million ha in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020.
- The Africa Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), launched at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris in December 2015, has a target of restoring 100 million ha across the continent by 2030.
- Initiatives such as The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration unite governments, organizations, communities and individuals with a common goal: restoring the world’s degraded and deforested lands.
What We Do
The GEF aligns its work with international efforts like the Bonn Challenge and the Global Partnership. Our first three initiatives, begun during GEF-5 (2010-2014), share a common approach. They are creating multiple benefits from restoration, engaging local communities who make a living from the land.
The Sahel and West Africa Program (SAWAP) 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. It focuses on a strip of land of 15 km wide and 7,100 km long from Dakar to Djibouti. The Great Green Wall has the potential of restoring landscapes in 11 participating countries. Read more+
In Rwanda, the GEF and the World Bank co-funded the Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC) project. This demonstration project will showcase how landscape management can enhance environmental services and build climate resilience.
In Brazil, the Recovery and Protection of Climate and Biodiversity Services in the Southeast Atlantic Forest Corridor of Brazil project aims to restore and enhance carbon stocks in forest and non-forest lands.
At the end of GEF-5, we also worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) to develop “Building the Foundation for Forest Landscape Restoration at Scale.” Among other goals, this project aims to make the business case for restoration. In so doing, it will help secure financial commitments to restore degraded land in Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Niger and Kenya as part of the Bonn Challenge.
GEF-6 builds on these initial steps. Our sustainable forest management (SFM) strategy now has a specific objective on forest restoration. This enables countries to address drivers of forest landscape degradation and help restore critical environmental functions of degraded landscapes.
The SFM strategy aligns GEF priorities across the Biodiversity, Land Degradation, and Climate Change focal areas. To that end, it provides additional resources to focus attention on forests through the SFM incentive mechanism.
More than 80 countries have used funding available for forestry projects in GEF-5. In many cases, these projects are helping to transform the countries’ forestry sectors. Through the current portfolio of sustainable forest management (SFM) projects and programs (GEF-6, 2014-2018), we expect to restore 770,000 ha of degraded forests through plantations and agroforestry systems. In addition, natural regeneration will improve 5.3 million ha of existing forest. With that, we are creating multiple environmental benefits at global level, which also contribute to improved livelihoods of forest-dependent people.
The GEF is also working with its partners to bring forest restoration to the attention of global policymakers. Indeed, the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris acknowledged the value of the GEF’s SFM program. In keeping with the Paris Agreement, the GEF and its partners are working toward including landscape restoration as a tactic to help keep the rise of the Earth’s temperature within 2°C.