The Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

The Alliance for Restoration of Forest Landscapes and Ecosystems in Africa: integrating restoration and livelihood improvement in Malawi

Year published: 02/05/2023

The Alliance for Restoration of Forest Landscapes and Ecosystems in Africa (AREECA) project has made considerable strides in Malawi in reforestation, natural regeneration and livelihood improvement, as was revealed during the third national project steering committee (NPSC) meeting. This took place from 21 to 22 February 2023 in the Ntcheu district of central Malawi, where the project is being implemented. The NPSC, which meets twice a year to guide and enhance the execution of activities, reviewed project progress, provided updates and built a consensus on the way forward.

There are several key achievements to note from the project in 2022. For example, 914 hectares (ha) of land were placed under restoration, and ten livelihood options were integrated. A restoration plan was developed to guide the implementation of restoration activities in Ntcheu district. Similarly, progress was made on developing the AREECA project workplan and budgets for 2023. Initiatives under the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030 have continued to be implemented. The German Agency for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), which acts as the project management unit, also provided valuable updates.

Since the launch of the project in 2021, roughly 30 000 bamboo, and 5 000 fruit and 300 000 forest tree seedlings have been planted across the target landscape at homesteads and in areas requiring restoration and conservation. This contributes to the ongoing work to restore 25 000 ha in the Mpira dam catchment area in Ntcheu.

The NPSC members also participated in a field visit to four sites to gain insights into community structures and interventions. At the Kasale village, they witnessed revamped community structures including village development and forest block committees, village stakeholder panels and natural resources management groups. They also learned more about the key role that they could play in natural resources management and the challenges that they might face.

The NPSC members embraced farmer-to-farmer capacity building and knowledge dissemination through farmer field schools. Moreover, they commended the great strides made by the project to promote banana production as a livelihood option for farmers that contributes to improved food and income security.

The NPSC hailed the unique interventions on rainwater harvesting, which are introducing farm ponds for microirrigation to the community as a means of enabling continuous crop production throughout the year. The team also appreciated restoration interventions at various scales in natural forests and on agricultural land, which are being achieved through natural regeneration, agroforestry and reforestation, and thanks to the management and utilization rules governing village forest areas.

Overall, the NPSC applauded the efforts of project implementers and participants. The committee is due to meet again by the end of 2023.


AREECA is a consortium financed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) fund. AREECA is composed of the African Union Development Agency of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the German Agency for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Bank, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). From 2021 to 2025, the activities of AREECA in Malawi are being implemented under the overall coordination of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change, and FAO’s technical lead with the support of various consortium partners, mainly IUCN and WRI. These activities will contribute to the nation’s ambitious target of restoring 4.5 million ha under the Bonn Challenge and the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100).

Harrington Nyirenda (FAO Malawi), Priscah Munthali (FAO Malawi),
Towela Munthali (FAO Malawi) and Christophe Besacier (FAO)