Accelerating locally-led land restoration of Africa’s vital landscapes and forests
Land degradation is rampant in Africa, affecting 46% of all lands and 65% of farmland. This has devastating consequences for smallholder farmers and Earth’s climate. Restore Local is a bold plan to bring the land back to optimum health by supporting local tree-growing champions.
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60% of Africans rely on the land to provide food for their families and communities. But as degraded soils grow tired from unsustainable farming and grazing practices, farmers are struggling to produce enough, shrinking their incomes and exacerbating malnutrition. Meanwhile, erosion is polluting rivers and biodiversity is being lost at unprecedented rates — with climate change accelerating all these impacts. The good news is: it is possible to restore land, making it more productive and resilient. This can be accomplished by growing new trees — in forests and farms, on pastures and slopes — and by nurturing the land so native vegetation can grow back. Many across the continent are embracing restoration — setting up businesses and nonprofits to help local farmers and communities to plant trees. These “Restoration Champions” exist, but their efforts are bounded in size and duration, and limited by available resources.
The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) is a continental effort with an ambitious goal of restoring 100 million hectares of land by 2030. World Resources Institute (WRI) and its partners are launching Restore Local, an effort to gain momentum toward this major goal by supporting local Restoration Champions. Locally-led restoration projects are 6-20x more likely to achieve long-term success and bring environmental and economic benefits to their communities. Over four years, Restore Local will help bring forests, rivers and fertile farming soils back to health by delivering the support necessary to the local organizations already working with smallholder farmers on this problem. By helping Restoration Champions amplify their work, Restore Local will not only demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, but plant the seeds for a movement to restore not just land, but expand livelihoods and opportunity.
Restore Local will support Restoration Champions by helping them build their capacity, connecting them with financing, securing policies from local and national governments that incentivize restoration, and improving their efforts to measure their impact. Restore Local will amplify its work in three anchor landscapes — the Lake Kivu and Rusizi River Basin, Kenya’s Great Rift Valley and Ghana’s Cocoa Belt — to demonstrate the power of this approach. They will boost productivity for large tracts of land, deliver immediate and enduring results for more than 600,000 smallholder farmers, and ignite local economies. From there, they will build the infrastructure needed to scale the blueprint further and transition towards scaling it across AFR100 nations, sparking an African-led land restoration movement aligned toward the ultimate vision of 100 million hectares of land.
Why will it Succeed?
In recent decades, Africans have accomplished some of the largest local restoration projects in human history — like the community-led restoration of 1 million hectares of degraded land in Tigray, Ethiopia, and the natural regeneration of trees on farms to improve the food security of 2.5 million farmers across 5 million hectares in Niger. Restore Local is creating a new blueprint for this work, to make these efforts easier to accomplish and much more widespread. Its partners have already developed and tested elements of this blueprint, with great success. In 2018, WRI developed the Land Accelerator, the world’s first training and mentorship program for businesses restoring forests, farmland and pastures, with demand for the program far outstripping capacity. And in addition to mobilizing the political will for restoration, WRI, One Tree Planted and Realize Impact have also launched TerraFund for AFR100, a platform that has provided financing and on-call consulting to over one hundred Restoration Champions.
Did “Africa’s COP” meet expectations?
Did “Africa’s COP” meet expectations?
COP27 was an arduous summit, with mixed results. A landmark agreement to create a new “loss and damage” fund was a historic achievement. But many delegates were disappointed by the lack of progress on decarbonising energy systems. In the final episode of our series, we explore what the final deal means for the future of climate action. Plus, we examine AFR100, a project that aims to pair climate action with economic growth in Africa.