The Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

The key role of forest and landscape restoration in climate action

Year published: 24/11/2022

Forest and land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares (ha) of land and threatens the livelihoods, well-being, food, water and energy security of nearly 3.2 billion people.

Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) is a relatively recent response to address these impacts and aims to recover the ecological functionality and enhance human well-being in deforested and degraded landscapes. Forest and landscape restoration practices have also proven to have significant benefits for addressing the impacts of climate change. These include carbon sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improving the resilience of landscapes and reducing disaster risks.

Forest and landscape restoration is therefore one of the key solutions of the agriculture, forestry and other land-use (AFOLU) sector considered in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), confirmed in the Glasgow’s Declaration on Forest and Land during the twenty-sixth UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP26).

This publication highlights the links between FLR and climate change mitigation and adaptation issues, and considers further opportunities to enable greater integration between the two agendas. Many large restoration initiatives have been launched in the last decade. More projects are under preparation through the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, including many projects of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). These projects, often funded under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other climate funds are emphasized in the report to illustrate the numerous climate benefits of FLR. As a relatively cost-effective approach to supporting carbon sequestration, conservation and sustainable forest use, FLR is playing an active role in enabling climate mitigation. Should the Bonn Challenge reach its goal to restore 350 million ha, it could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2) per year. Reduction of GHG emissions is also crucial, and the FLR approach provides a strong basis to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, especially through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) activities. It can also support sustainable bioenergy, in particular the wood energy sector, a large contributor of GHGs. Forest and landscape restoration is also key for supporting the conservation of existing forests and landscapes to protect and enhance carbon already stored in ecosystems, such as those in peatlands. This publication describes the different tools that have been developed by FAO to better measure the quantities of carbon stored and other climate benefits achieved through FLR projects.