Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR): a solution to soil degradation and climate change adaptation in African Mountains

Around 3 million hectares of forest are lost every year in Africa and 65 percent of land on the continent is affected by degradation resulting in an annual loss of 3 percent of GDP from soil and nutrient depletion. Most of these areas affected by degradation in Africa are mountainous given the rough topography, relatively high precipitation, and high population densities that characterise mountain regions. African governments and their international partners under the Bonn Challenge are championing Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) as a solution to this pervasive issue through the AFR100 initiative. Through this initiative, African governments have committed to restore 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa by 2030, an area that is equivalent to the entire territory of Madagascar. Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is the most suitable approach to this challenge given the fact that it restores ecosystem services and landscape functionality, stabilizes land use productivity and enhances resilience to climate change through the restoration of forests and tree cover outside of forests. AFR100 recognizes the benefits that forests and trees can provide in restored and resilient African mountains and landscapes such as enhanced agricultural productivity and food security, improved soil fertility, availability and improved quality of water resources, reduced desertification, increased biodiversity, and increased resilience to climate for ecosystems and human communities. Although it is not possible to replace a pristine forest once it’s gone, FLR can help restore many of the functions it originally provided like clean air and fresh water (Stewart Maginnis, IUCN). We urge everybody to do their bit to support Africa achieving this ambitious goal which will contribute a lot in the implementation of the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda on the continent.

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