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Forest and landscape restoration has “huge potential” to tackle climate change – FAO report

24/11/2022


Rome, 24 November 2022 – Forest and landscape restoration has “huge potential” to strengthen, accelerate and scale up local-level and national capacity for climate action, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched today.

The paper, titled The key role of forest and landscape restoration in climate action calls for greater recognition of the role of forest and landscape restoration in cost-effective climate action, and recommends diverse funding mechanisms to boost restoration initiatives.

“Forest and landscape restoration is a natural climate pathway with one of the highest mitigation and adaptation potentials,” said Tiina Vähänen, Deputy Director of FAO’s Forestry Division. “It is essential that this potential is recognized and that restoration efforts are scaled up if we are to reach global goals.” 

2 billion hectares of degraded land

Forest and land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares of land and threatens the food, water and energy security, as well as the livelihoods and wellbeing of nearly 3.2 billion people. 

Forest and landscape restoration uses a wide range of means from agroforestry to sustainable forest management to help bring deforested and degraded land back into production and improve wellbeing, provide alternative sources of forest products, improve soil fertility and reduce erosion. 

By supporting the conservation and sustainable use of forests, forest and landscape restoration also protects and enhances carbon stored in ecosystems and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, especially through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) activities, providing financial incentives to countries that reduce forest loss.     

In addition to highlighting case studies that illustrate the possibilities of forest and landscape restoration, FAO’s new report notes challenges to scaling up restoration, which include insufficient government resources for large-scale investments, as well as the limited financial capacity of smallholders to invest in the equipment and inputs needed.

The report recommends the further engagement of donors and diverse long-term funding mechanisms, especially from the private sector.

Global goals

The FAO report comes out in the context of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, launched in June 2021, and global restoration and climate goals, such as the Bonn Challenge, which aims to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.   

“Achieving the goals set out by the Bonn Challenge will generate about USD 170 billion per year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields and forest products, and could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually,” said Christophe Besacier,  Senior Forestry Officer and Forest and Landscape Restoration Coordinator at FAO. 

Restoring degraded lands is one of three pathways involving forests and trees set out in the 2022 edition of FAO’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Forests, to help address environmental deterioration, recover from crises, increase resilience and transform economies.

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LINKS

The key role of forest and landscape restoration in climate action

https://www.fao.org/events/detail/cofo-26/en

https://www.fao.org/events/detail/8th-world-forest-week/en