FAO highlights urgent need to recover degraded land in Africa

Bugoma central forest reserve is a pristine, lush tropical forest found in the districts of Kikuube and Hoima (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, released the 2021 edition of the Africa Forest and Landscape Restoration Magazine. The launch took place during Climate Week, which also coincided with the United Nations Ecosystem Decade.


The Magazine recommends further action to seize the continent’s opportunity to return land to sustainable production, protection of biodiversity and livelihoods in the fight against climate change.

FAO Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, stated that the increasing disappearance of forests cost Africa an annual loss of 3% of GDP. According to him, 60% of Africans depend on land and forests.

The expert stated that “degraded forest landscapes intensify the effects of climate change and are a barrier to building prosperous and resilient communities”.

Gloomy Assessment

The magazine indicates that more than 65% of the productive land is degraded and desertification affects 45% of the African territory. This at a time when the overall trend is down, with 4 million hectares of forest disappearing each year.

Drylands are increasingly vulnerable to climate change and their restoration is a priority for adapting and building resilient and sustainable food systems.

Degraded forest landscapes intensify the effects of climate change and are a barrier to building prosperous and resilient communities

The projects analyzed by FAO have a strong climate change dimension, which are not only aimed at sequestering carbon, but also at creating employment and reducing the vulnerability of rural people to food insecurity.

Sustainable Production

For FAO senior forestry expert Nora Berrahmouni, reaching far beyond planting trees, restoring lost forests and landscapes is of great benefit to sustainable food production, building resilience and reducing disaster risks.

Berrahmouni, who is also one of the study’s authors, advised African countries and partners to step up efforts in forest and landscape restoration as a viable solution to global warming.

She added that while it is a long-term process, it is a sustainable and forward-looking solution.

Dry land

The continent has 1 billion hectares of dry land, of which 393 million are in need of renovation in the Greater Green Areas of Africa.

The AFR100 partnership has committed 31 African governments to restore 100 million hectares by 2030, and the challenge has been met.

Africa is estimated to have an additional 132 million hectares of degraded arable land, which combined with climate change, makes millions more vulnerable.

The report identifies local ownership, high-level political support and access to finance as crucial to success.



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