A GPFLR report Restoring forests and landscapes, the key to sustainable future showcases the success of large-scale restoration of landscapes burdened by natural or man-made disasters. With wildfires, droughts and the steadily increasing number of migrants driven from their homes by land degradation, food insecurity or conflict over natural resources dominating the news, the report comes at a pivotal moment.
The negative consequences of human actions have brought our world and our future to a dangerous crossroads: will we be able to avert the worst impacts of climate change? How can we stop and reverse the loss of fertile soil, biodiversity, and other natural capital that supplies all our food and other basic needs? Where are the jobs for millions of unemployed young people?
How can we reduce the number of migrants driven from their homes by drought, land degradation, food insecurity or conflict over natural resources? Healthy and productive landscapes and the vital benefits they provide are key to these pressing challenges. Agriculture currently provides nearly one in every three jobs worldwide .
Yet we are losing ecosystems services including food production worth more than $6 trillion a year to erosion and other forms of degradation, putting yet more forested land under pressure for conversion to agriculture. Ongoing environmental degradation in rural areas could unravel the social and economic fabric across many areas of our planet. We cannot afford this.
Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality.
Restoration can happen by taking deliberate steps to integrate a greater number and variety of tree species into gardens, farms, fields and forests; or by allowing natural regeneration of overgrazed, polluted or otherwise overused ecosystems. Essentially, it is a process to improve the productivity and capacity of landscapes to meet the various and changing needs of society.
Encouragingly, momentum for restoration is building. Though forest loss continues, trees are increasing in number and variety across many landscapes, bringing diversity and value to the world’s farms, in and around cities, and across highly varied landscapes that have seen forests and trees disappear in previous decades.
And we now have political commitments from dozens of countries to bring over 160 million hectares of degraded land under restoration as part of the Bonn Challenge (see Section III). That is a good start toward attaining the global goals of bringing 150 million hectares into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030 – an area almost the size of India.
Read full report here