The AFR100 initiative aims to restore 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa within the next decade.

Alex Rose-Innes

It is part of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission’s vision for the continent as set out during the last conference held in South Africa earlier this year, It would be driven in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

Participating African nations would be assisted with technical and financial support to enhance and drive forest restoration engendering additional benefits. The plan would include availability of sufficient fuelwood, increased food security and address conservation and upgrade climate change resilience. Mostly, it would work towards alleviating poverty by teaching communities regarding the sustainable use of forest products and ecosystem services.

These goals and criteria would contribute to the achievement of the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests, the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). It would take place within the framework of the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative (ARLI) and support FAO member countries’ global and regional priorities as part of the recently launched Hand-in-Hand Initiative.

The Secretariat is hosted by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), assisted by a special management team involving the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. Once again, the FAO, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Bank, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) would be on board. In addition, 17 technical partner organisations would assist with planning, implementing and monitoring the respective countries.

At its 21st Session in 2018 in Senegal, the FAO’s support and restoration plans and the formulation of national and transboundary projects in resource mobilisation had unanimously been accepted. Since then, the initiative had been included as a standing item on the agenda of future sessions of the Commission.

To date, 29 African nations had signed up for the initiative, r pledging to restore 125 million hectares of land which exceeds the original 100 million envisaged. A number of these countries had already prepared restoration action plans and strategies, allocated budgets and started to increase restoration activities. At the time of print, increased resource mobilisation efforts through national, bilateral and multilateral resources such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), had also come into play.

Countries which had pledged to regenerate the largest sections of forested areas are Sudan with more than 14 million ha, Ethiopia (15m ha) and Mali (10m ha.) The UN estimates that the AFR100 initiative implementation would take 10 years to bring about positive change on the continent. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) had also been accepted by the UN General Assembly during March 2019.

Emphasis would be on upscaling restoration work to counteract severe terrestrial and marine ecosystems degradation, not only in Africa, but worldwide. It also aims to boost restoration work and generate further action to support materialisation of political commitments, building on public demand for action on climate change, biodiversity loss and the resulting impacts on economies and livelihoods, especially for vulnerable communities.