Spotlight on forest landscape restoration at COP27

WWF Forests
4 min readNov 17, 2022

--

By Fran Price, Lead, WWF Global Forest Practice

Launch of WWF’s Forest Landscape Restoration in Africa Programme at COP27. © Tony Rakotondramanana /WWF

The UN climate change conference, COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh saw strong momentum around nature, ahead of the CBD COP15 where we are calling for an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework. At COP27, it has been heartening to see continued high-level political focus on forests, with forest landscape restoration a key part of new and existing commitments.

Under the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership, an additional EUR €1 billion in public finance was committed by world leaders alongside $3.6 billion USD of private capital to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation. Forest landscape restoration forms a major part of this.

Restoring forested landscapes — alongside halting deforestation, protecting and conserving key biodiversity areas and sustainably managing forests — is key to both adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation will be eased with more forests — forests in the right places that are owned, managed and restored by the people living there.

WWF’s new report, Our climate’s secret ally: Uncovering the story of nature in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, shows that without nature — including forests — we cannot reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

At COP27, we heard some talk and pledges around blended finance for forest landscape restoration in Africa, and about so much good work happening on the ground. What we need now is to find ways to scale high-quality, long-term restoration that truly benefits those who are closest to the land, contributing to a restoration or stewardship economy. It is critical to join with and empower local, trusted groups that can respond to local conditions, but are also part of larger networks that can more systematically scale our collective efforts. And much more financing is needed to meet the scale of the problem. The pledges up until today are welcome and needed, but we need much more finance — and we need action.

Carbon markets are touted as one way to activate finance, as forest landscape restoration represents one of the lowest cost and most accessible forms of removals available today. However, using such markets cannot not be allowed to slow emissions reductions, which remains the first and foremost priority. And we must raise the bar. The growing interest and investment in nature-based solutions, especially from the private sector, is encouraging. But as our new discussion paper, Integrity principles for benefit sharing in forest NbS for climate shows, accelerating implementation of nature-based solutions without concrete, principled guidance poses a major risk. Without proper safeguards, much of this investment may be wasted or reinforce institutions and power structures that do not respect human rights, protect Indigenous Peoples and local communities, or provide accountable financial management.

We have the necessary tools and knowledge. For years WWF has worked with partners around the world to help create and accelerate forest landscape restoration initiatives. Last week, alongside Ministers from Tanzania and Cameroon, we launched the Forest Landscape Restoration in Africa Programme — an ambitious multi-country WWF initiative that aims to kickstart the restoration of 13.5 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes across nine countries by 2027, as our contribution to AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative).

From Madagascar to Tanzania to Uganda, we are working with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, the private sector as well as governments to turn restoration commitments into reality. Above all, the initiative aims to contribute to a climate resilient Africa by 2030.

Commitments are nice and policies are important, but implementation is crucial. If interventions are poorly designed or governed, or fail to deliver meaningful benefits to people, they not only risk negative outcomes on the ground, but squander opportunities that we can no longer afford to miss.

Deforestation is rising at alarming rates in some geographies with devastating impacts globally, from fires to floods. In the Brazilian Amazon alone, the number of fires hit a 12-year high in August. Despite the positive momentum around forests as key allies to tackle the climate crisis, there is a disconnect with real action to address the drivers of deforestation like unsustainable agriculture and forestry, and mining, which are only expanding. It’s urgent that commitments on paper shift to channeling funds quickly and effectively well before 2030 to meet the scale and speed of forest loss.

It’s going to take all of us to work together to bridge the gap between what is promised and what is needed. We are working with our partners in communities and forests across the globe to make that happen.

--

--

WWF Forests

#Forest Practice @WWF. News on #conservation #people and solutions for #deforestation and #forestdegradation #NaturePositive