African governments must prioritise restoration of degraded landscapes to hasten green and inclusive growth in the continent, experts said on Thursday, August 30, 2018 at the global landscapes forum taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.
The international experts, policymakers and campaigners stated that reclaiming Africa’s degraded landscapes dovetails with the continent’s quest to achieve sustainable development and enhance its resilience in the face of climate change.
“Urgent and concerted action must be taken to halt land degradation in Africa that has been worsened by population growth, urbanisation and climate change,” said Robert Nasi, the director-general of Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
More than 1,000 delegates including Africa’s environment ministers, scientists, industry leaders and grassroots campaigners attended the two-day Nairobi forum to explore new ways to restore degraded landscapes in a continent on the cusp of industrial take off.
The high-level forum which was organised by CIFOR and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) resolved to galvanise attention to the alarming rate of landscapes degradation in Africa estimated at 50,000 hectares annually.
Nasi said policy and legislative reforms coupled with public awareness is key to stimulate investments in land reclamation across sub-Saharan Africa.
“We must incentivise key stakeholders like industry and farmers’ groups to be part of landscapes restoration drive in order to address poverty, hunger, lack of clean drinking water and energy deficit in this continent,” Nasi remarked.
Africa is currently the epicenter of landscapes degradation that could undermine the continent’s ability to sustain economic growth, stability and peace.
The World Resources Institute reckon that two thirds of Africa’s land mass are degraded while 2.8 million hectares of the continent’s forests have been cleared to pave way for farming or human settlement.
Erik Solheim, the executive director of UNEP, said multilateral institutions have rallied behind rehabilitation of Africa’s degraded ecosystems as means to counter climate change, poverty and biodiversity loss.