Representatives from 24 countries across Africa have reaffirmed the continent’s commitment to bringing degraded landscapes and livelihoods back to life. At a meeting in Niamey, partners of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) exchanged their experiences using forest landscape restoration practices to achieve their national environmental and sustainable development goals.
AFR100 is a Pan-African country-led initiative that aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2030. To date, countries have already committed more than 80 million hectares. On September 26-27, participating countries analysed how to go from commitment to action and shared practical ways to work with the communities to initiate restoration on the ground.
Host country, Niger, is said to have already successfully restored five million hectares using farmer-managed natural regeneration. “Restoration is a key issue for the resilience of our communities,” said Niger’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Almoustapha Garba. “The Bonn Challenge, focused on Africa through AFR100, is very ambitious but achievable. The attitude in Niger is that this is hard but not impossible.”
The forest landscape restoration approach driving AFR100 goes beyond protecting nature and focuses on people. For Africa, restoring landscapes is an opportunity to generate income, improve livelihoods, strengthen food security and build resilience, especially against the effects of climate change seen in the Sahel.
“The enthusiasm from countries comes from the fact that we are moving from the designing of restoration to actual implementation and execution on the ground,” expressed Mamadou Diakhite, Team Leader at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency, which hosts the AFR100 secretariat. “There will be shovels to dig the ground, plant the trees and restore the land. This is the engine for the countries.”
Africa leads the way
The ambitious commitment of AFR100 partner countries makes Africa a global leader in restoring forests, landscapes and livelihoods. In addition to feeding into domestic restoration and sustainable development commitments, AFR100 contributes to the achievement of global initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge, the Sustainable Development Goals and the New York Declaration on Forests. It also complements regional initiatives such as the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative (ARLI), the African Landscapes Action Plan (ALAP) and the Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI). The AFR100 initiative was announced during the Global Landscapes Forum at the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, where forest landscape restoration was highlighted as a key ingredient of the global movement to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
“In 2011 the Minister of Environment started the Bonn Challenge, with a global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares by 2020,” explained Horst Freiberg, Head of Division at Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. “The AFR100 initiative is a reaction to support and implement this global goal on a regional level.”
“Our two ministries, basically, work hand in hand to make AFR100 the implementation platform of the Bonn Challenge in Africa,” added Bernhard Worm, Senior Advisor at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
At the meeting, AFR100 partners reviewed guidelines and frameworks to track progress towards their shared goal and to capture and share best practices. They also encouraged other African countries to make restoration commitments and join the initiative.