From Rwanda to Guatemala, a new report on a global challenge to plant trees has showed that fewer countries have failed to unleash their potential to restore forests while some others like Rwanda have exceeded their targets.
The report was released on September 2 at the global digital forest conservation conference and review of the Bonn Challenge in which countries voluntarily made more commitment in regard to tree planting to reduce climate change impact.
The Bonn Challenge, launched in 2011 by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Federal German Ministry for the Environment, aims at 150 million hectares under restoration by 2020, and at 350 million hectares by 2030.
Since then 61 nations, 8 states and 5 associations have taken up the Bonn Challenge – committing to planting more than 210 million hectares under the forest landscape restoration (FLR) initiative and forging ahead with restoration planning and implementation.
The report dubbed ‘Restore Our Future’ reveals the unrealized potential for participating countries to use forest landscape restoration efforts to raise their climate ambition and stimulate economic recovery through the creation of jobs and other benefits after the COVID-19 pandemic.
For instance 117 of 166 countries (70%) have not yet set quantitative targets from the forests and land use sector related to forest landscape restoration to absorb Carbon dioxide (CO2) within their climate change Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
It also shows that of 166 NDCs analyzed, 128 countries included targets aligned with FLR, reflecting recognition of the role of restoration in combating climate change in the forest and land use sector, but only 30% of NDCs expressed quantitative targets.
“If all Bonn Challenge countries were to fully incorporate their already committed quantitative Bonn Challenge targets into their 2020 NDCs, this would account for 205.78 million hectares of increased climate ambition and action – removing up to 15 billion tons of carbon dioxide,” the report said in part.
The IUCN lauded Rwanda among a few countries that have managed to prove that reforestation targets can be achieved.
IUCN said that Rwanda was the first country to commit to ‘border-to-border’ forest landscape restoration.
“Its ambitious Bonn Challenge commitment to bring 2million hectares under restoration by 2030 is proportionally the highest commitment to date – representing 82% of national land,” IUCN said in a statement.
Dr Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General, said that the global community should build on such a momentum created and increase ambition even further at this crucial moment in time of coronavirus.
“To restore our future, we require durable, effective nature-based solutions that can tackle challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or food and water security, but also stimulate economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stewart Maginnis , IUCN Global Director for the Nature-based Solutions Group, said countries that have joined the challenge have realised a vast array of socioeconomic benefits, from boosting crop yields in poverty-stricken areas – to enhancing flood resilience.
While this world’s largest reforestation push has resulted into formation of youth forest landscape restoration movements in Rwanda and other countries in the challenge, the youth opted for a change of strategy that doesn’t exploit their energy.
For example, during a youth panel, Miss Honorine Uwase, the IUCN Rwanda ambassador said there is a need to invest in young people’s movements since forestation is human centered outreach and supposed to reflect the community engagement.
“If we need to keep this going and give more effective results outcomes in this new decade that we started we need to invest and encourage this young movements that are raising,” Hirwa said.
“Investment should focus on youth movement ideas and innovations instead of using their energy for restoration that way we make it more profitable and engaging”
Charles Karangwa, IUCN Regional Technical Coordinator supported the idea saying that resources are scarce for environmental protection but need to re-imagine sustainable finance and include actions that enhance nature-based solutions.