New Collaboration Launched to Restore the World’s Forests
United Nations Environment Programme and International Union for Conservation of Nature join forces to restore forest ecosystems
Efforts to combat climate change and improve livelihoods by restoring forest lands continue to build momentum. A new collaboration is being launched between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to restore at least 150 million hectares of forest landscapes by 2020, leading up to the Secretary- General’s Climate Summit on 23 September 2014.
The new collaboration will bring together two major ongoing global initiatives to restore degraded landscapes worldwide - the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (the UN-REDD Programme) and its 55 partner countries, and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration .
Restoring 150 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes, an area roughly the size of Alaska or almost half the size of India, would sequester an estimated 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere every year, reducing the current emissions gap by 11-17 per cent.
The new collaboration between UNEP and IUCN aims to contribute to the implementation of the Bonn Challenge, , a global commitment made in September 2011 to restore at least 150 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes by 2020, which would generate an estimated US$85 billion per year in ecosystem services to benefit the rural poor in developing countries.
With policy support from governments, forest landscape restoration is an attractive proposition to harness private sector investments. Restoring degraded lands benefits biodiversity and generates ecosystem services such as water purification, wood for energy, pollination for agriculture, and tourism enterprise opportunities.
The agreement includes a Helpdesk function for assessments of restoration opportunities, and a global mapping database for carbon and non-carbon benefits of restoration efforts. It will also include efforts to align forest restoration with benefits under the global climate change mitigation initiative REDD+, which focuses on developing countries.
“This collaboration will add new momentum to a mission of great significance to UNEP, by strengthening a critical dimension of REDD+, which aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. The economic and environmental importance of forests means that we cannot just prevent their destruction, we must also unite efforts to recover this lifesupporting resource,” said Mette L. Wilkie, Director of Environmental
To date, up to 20 million hectares of restoration commitments to the Bonn Challenge have been pledged by 5 countries and alliances. Additional pledges are expected during the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, and the collaboration between IUCN and UNEP will encourage more countries to make pledges towards the 150 million hectare target. The collaboration will eventually benefit all 55 partner countries which UNEP is working with, through the UN-REDD Programme; although restoration is a higher priority for some countries than for others. National efforts will initially focus on a few pilot projects including countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Indonesia. In Cote d’Ivoire, for example, recent conflict and civil war has destroyed most of the current forest landscapes, and the country is in need of a massive investment for landscape restoration, as described in its National Programme under the UN-REDD Programme. Source: UNEP