EDITORIAL: Africa should fast track green cover restoration

Investing in forest and landscape restoration as well as ensuring their sustainability will improve livelihoods of African people.

The call was made by experts during a two-day Forest and Landscape Investment Forum in Kigali on Tuesday. The experts called for investments to make green cover of more than 100 million hectares of degraded forests and land on the continent.

The call by experts is a reminder for the continent to reflect on the importance of environmental protection to achieve sustainable development.

African governments should indeed take measures to implement these recommendations because climate change effects pose a big  challenge to Africa’s future. The growth of the continent will largely depend on the success in mitigating climate change effects.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 – calls for halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation; and the Bonn Challenge – to restore 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land by 2030.

It is worrying that about three million hectares of land and forest cover are degraded in Africa annually. This is a trend that should be stopped immediately. But this calls for concerted efforts from the  African governments to  deliberately take measures that will reverse this problem.

Restoring land and forest in Africa has multiple benefits, including economic value, combating desertification and drought. Most critical is that it will check  the negative impact of climate change.

Although the World Bank has pledged $500 million in funding for landscape restoration in Africa in the next 10 years, more efforts should be undertaken by the continent  to find African solutions to address the continent’s challenges including environmental problems.

Rwanda is already leading the way after pledging to restore two million hectares at the Bonn challenge. Together with other ministers and government officials representing 13 African countries, Rwanda adopted the Kigali declaration reaffirming and increasing their commitment to restoring green cover.