FAO Regional Office for Africa

Declaration by forest and farm producers drives forward landscape restoration in Africa


2 October 2023, Sokodé, Togo – Forest and farm producer organizations – representing the collective voices of farmers and forest-dependent people – must play a pivotal role in leading efforts to combat land degradation and build climate resilience in Africa, according to a landmark declaration.

The Sokodé Declaration was issued after three days of discussions between stakeholders from across the region at an event co-organized by the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), a partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and AgriCord.

"The Sokodé Declaration signals an important step in the region’s fight against deforestation and land degradation,” said Ewald Rametsteiner, Deputy Director of FAO’s Forestry Division.  “It showcases the collective determination of forest and farm producer organizations to restore our ecosystems and create a brighter future for generations to come."

Land degradation remains a pressing global concern, impacting natural capital and ecosystem services, resulting in poverty, hunger, and environmental pollution and making communities more vulnerable to diseases and natural disasters, including droughts, storms, floods, and forest fires. 

It particularly affects arid zones, which comprise nearly half of the Earth's surface and are home to a third of the global population. Rural communities, small-scale farmers, women, youth, indigenous communities, and other vulnerable groups bear a disproportionate burden.

Blueprint for collaborative action

Agreed by almost 150 representatives of forest and farm producer organizations, government institutions, civil society organizations, the private sector, and national platforms of farmers’ organizations from across Africa, the Declaration provides a basis for governments to shape policies and decision-making.

It sets the stage for collaborative action to end deforestation and land degradation in the region, with forest and farm producer organizations at its heart. It recommends actively involving women and youth in managing forest resources and accessing forest landscape restoration funds.

The declaration emphasizes the importance of sustainable natural resource and forest management for food security in the region and cross-border cooperation in the fight against deforestation.

It highlights the importance of choosing suitable tree species, preferably local forest species, for each area to ensure effective restoration, recognizing that forest and farm producers are stewards of the land.

The declaration calls on financial partners to increase funding for implementing commitments under AFR100 - a country-led effort to bring 129 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030 -  and to support producer organizations in mobilizing and accessing financial resources, particularly women and youth groups.

Progress towards AFR100

Last week’s African regional workshop on forest and farm landscape restoration under AFR100 focused in particular on building knowledge of how forest and farm producer organizations can contribute to meeting the objectives of AFR100 and to effectively adapt to the challenges of climate change and international commitments, processes and funding opportunities.

Through presentations, discussions and field visits, the delegates also reflected on the region’s restoration achievements to date.

Togo joined AFR100 in 2018 and has committed to restoring 1,400,000 hectares of degraded land by 2030. With FFF support, restoration actions by forest and farm producer organizations have taken place over 864.5 hectares, and agro-forest enrichment over an area of 453 hectares. Around 350 young people have been trained in agroecological and forest landscape restoration practices in 12 school farms.

Madagascar, another AFR100 signatory, has seen remarkable progress, with a partnership between FFF and six producer organizations restoring over 6,500 hectares of degraded land through climate-smart agriculture practices, benefiting approximately 3,800 producers. 

The event was organized in collaboration with the Forest for Future Project supported by the German Agency for International Cooperation, the Coordination Togolaise des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles and the Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs Agricoles de l'Afrique de l'Ouest.