Halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide is vital to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
A panoramic view of the badlands outside of Koulomboutej Village, Niger.
©Photo: ©FAO/©FAO/Giulio Napolitano / FAO
28 October 2020, Rome - Efforts to restore the world's degraded forests and landscapes must be scaled up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, said FAO in a new publication released today.
Land and forest degradation are among the world's most pressing environmental issues. Globally, 25 percent of the total land area has been degraded. To safeguard the future of our planet, major actions are needed to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
The importance of land and forest restoration is highlighted in a new edition of FAO's quarterly forestry publication Unasylva, launched today at the Global Landscapes Forum Biodiversity Digital Conference: One World - One Health.
Entitled Restoring the Earth: the next decade, the latest edition also underlines that considerable progress in forest and landscape restoration has been made in the last ten years.
To date, 63 countries and other entities have committed to restoring 173 million hectares - an area half the size of India - and regional responses such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) and Initiative 20×20 in Latin America are making significant advances.
However, the publication argues that much more needs to be done at the national, regional and global scale to meet commitments under the Bonn Challenge, which aim to restore 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2030, and other international pledges.
"Forest and landscape restoration is about much more than trees: it has social and economic benefits such as improving human well-being and livelihoods, and contributes to many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including mitigating climate change and conserving biodiversity," said Mette Wilkie, Director, FAO Forestry.
The new edition of Unasylva outlines a series of new restoration initiatives and programmes aimed at increasing funding, empowering local stakeholders and enhancing technical assistance for forest and landscape restoration.
The publication also presents technical approaches, such as Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), to increase the adoption of forest and landscape restoration, and underlines the factors that underpin its implementation.
Among positive stories highlighted is China's success in reversing centuries of forest degradation and loss thanks to political leadership, multi-stakeholder involvement and an adaptive management approach.
Unasylva also profiles Northern Kenya's community conservation movement, which shows that land restoration is most successful when peace, governance, enterprise and wildlife conservation are also addressed.
Case studies in Brazil, Cambodia, Madagascar and Sao Tome and Principe meanwhile illustrate the range of options for institutional coordination mechanisms in forest and landscape restoration. Examples from the Niger and Burkina-Faso showcase the importance of local government and community's empowerment for planning and financing restoration and sustainable land management.
The publication also outlines actions needed to realize the momentum offered by the upcoming UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) to upscale forest restoration across hundreds of millions of hectares.
These include developing comprehensive business cases for governments and private-sector investors, new policies and legislation to support investments in restoration, and protocols for restoration tailored for specific landscapes.
Effective monitoring at the global, landscape and project scales is also essential for keeping restoration on track.
"Societies worldwide will need to be convinced of the global restoration imperative by rational economic argument, compassion for current and future generations, and an emotional connection to nature," according to the authors of one article in the journal.
Unasylva is an international journal of forestry and forest industries and FAO's longest running periodical, existing since 1947. Its goal is to bring globally significant developments in forestry to a broad range of readers - such as policymakers, forest managers, technicians, researchers, students and teachers.
Each issue involves authors from every region of the world and from a variety of academic and research institutions, other United Nations (UN) agencies, non-governmental organizations and civil society.