Deforested, degraded land restoration a top priority for African leaders

  • African leaders met at a summit to discuss land restoration across the continent on Nov. 13, ahead of the U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt.
  • Representatives from several African countries shared their countries’ pledges to restore hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of degraded and deforested land in the coming decades.
  • The summit’s leaders said they hoped the deliberations during the day-long summit would help African countries in both their contributions to international targets and to the improvement of their natural ecosystems for the benefit of their citizens.

African leaders came together on Nov. 13 to back the restoration of hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of degraded ecosystems ahead of the start of the U.N. Biodiversity Conference.

The day-long summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, which included some 100 government ministers, ambassadors and partner staff from across Africa, culminated in support for the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience, which the summit’s leaders say will aid in both achieving international targets and improving the resiliency of African countries for the people who call them home.

A farmer walks through the Sahel in Niger. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.

Cristiana Pașca Palmer, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said in a statement that the commitments would help Africa contribute to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, aimed at stemming biodiversity loss. Paşca Palmer also highlighted the importance of the effort in the “New Deal for Nature and People,” which makes a case for biodiversity protection and the essential role that healthy ecosystems play for humanity.

“No region of the world has a more important role to play in protecting the future of humanity and the future of the planet than Africa,” she said in her remarks at the summit. “The Secretariat of the Convention stands ready to further support this work.”

Cameroon plans to restore 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) of forest like that pictured here. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.

The commitments to bolstering natural ecosystems came from across the continent. In the Sahara and the Sahel, representatives from Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria said their countries would restore thousands of square kilometers of degraded land. Uganda, Cameroon and Madagascar all plan to restore large areas of forest. And Ethiopia detailed its efforts to engage farmers in bringing back 150,000 square kilometers (58,000 square miles) of forest.

Delegates to the summit endorsed the Pan-African Agenda, with its formal adoption contingent on the support of leaders at the African Union meeting coming up in January 2019. The United Nations Environment Programme said in the release that the pledges would serve as a foundation for further restoration on the continent.

Land cleared for farming in Madagascar. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.

“I am honoured to have hosted this first African Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity which I am convinced will lead the way to promoting natured-based solutions for increased resilience and wellbeing of people in Africa,” Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s environment minister, said in the statement.

Banner image of a male mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz), native to Madagascar, by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.

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This story first appeared on Mongabay

South Africa Today – Environment

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