Arid zone forestry
Drylands Restoration Initiative
Forests in drylands play a significant role in conserving biodiversity, harbouring unique and endemic species that are particularly adapted to extreme ecological conditions and providing ecosystem goods and services that are essential for people’s livelihoods and well-being. If well managed and properly valued, they have the potential to help tackle such global challenges as poverty, climate change, erosion and desertification. By supporting the millions of people who live in the world’s dry areas, they can ultimately contribute to the FAO mandate of achieving food security.
Yet dryland forests are caught in a spiral of deforestation, fragmentation, degradation and desertification, driven by interrelated and complex factors such as adverse land-use policies and subsidies, poor governance and a general lack of understanding of the importance and vulnerability of these ecosystems, coupled with a lack of investment in their sustainable management and restoration. Moreover, along with desertification, climate change-related phenomena are a huge, and growing concern in drylands. The decrease in rainfall and increase in extreme weather conditions predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will lead to severe water scarcity and are likely to cause a vicious circle of land and forest degradation, leading to unsustainable livelihoods in rural and urban areas.
In collaboration with its partners, FAO is preparing guidelines for restoring the resilience of forest landscapes in drylands. The process to produce the guidelines was launched in May 2012 in Konya, Turkey, at an international workshop convened by the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, FAO, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the German Agency for International Cooperation. The event brought together over 90 international experts on drylands restoration from forestry departments, research institutions, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations, representing 24 countries in Africa, Central Asia, the Near East and the Mediterranean region, as well as international development agencies and other technical and financial partners.
With the financial support of TIKA, a second international workshop was organized in Dakar, Senegal, in February 2013 by FAO, Senegal’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and its technical institutions, the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, and the African Union Commission.