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Nov 17, 2016 6 Min Read

Africa Rising to Forest Landscape Restoration

One year ago African countries gathered in Durban, South Africa for the XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC). This was the first time this significant conference was taking place on African soil. Looking back on how successful the conference was I can confidently say that this was a major motivation for Africa to champion a restoration agenda and implement strategies on sustainable landscape restoration. I first came to learn about AFR 100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative; a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030) when I attended the XIV World Forestry Congress representing Kijani Forests for Change as a youth speaker on forest landscape restoration. You can read all about that, here.

Kijani Brochure displayed at the AFR 100 Conference
Kijani Brochure displayed at the AFR 100 Conference

AFR 100 has since made great efforts in mobilizing African countries to share in the agenda of forest landscape restoration of 100 million hectares by 2030. Kenya has committed to restore 5.1 million ha of degraded forest land. This has been followed by a series of consultation meetings to develop restoration options for the degraded landscapes. In addition, stakeholders participated in a regional consultation workshop that took place in Addis Ababa from 12th to 14th of October.

Mr.Peter Ndunda (WRI Kenya) making a presentation during the AFR regional conference
Mr.Peter Ndunda (WRI Kenya) making a presentation during the AFR regional conference

The regional workshop provided a platform for the African countries, donors, partner organizations and supporters to brainstorm on some of the pertinent issues that may hinder achievement of restoring 100 million ha by 2030.

As a young conservationist, being part of this initiative and representing my organization Kijani Forests for Change was a great privilege. I was able to learn, share our experience as an upcoming organization in forest conservation and exchange ideas with other participants. We studied successful case studies that have shown the possibilities of undertaking sustainable forest restoration. Participating in this regional workshop gave me hope for the future of African forests. Surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and experiences from other African countries like Niger, Congo, Senegal, Ethiopia, among others I felt relieved that something is being done, and strategies are being developed, to save our African forests.

Erick Ogallo representing Kijani Forests for change during the AFR 100 Conference discussions
Erick Ogallo representing Kijani Forests for change during the AFR 100 Conference discussions

I was given hope that when upcoming generations ask what effort we made to save our forests, at least I will be able to say with confidence that my generation recognized the gravity of the challenges and came together to fight for sustainable solutions. Only time will tell what our impact with be. AFR 100 is definitely working towards addressing these tough questions. On the other hand, as I interacted with other stakeholders I came to realize that this was not an easy task and it required the efforts of all of us – you and me included! It requires persistent collaboration and constant commitment by African citizens, donors and other stakeholders. Moreover, success relies on political goodwill through favorable policies towards initiatives such as AFR 100. The allocation of valuable resources, and making forest landscape restoration a priority among African heads of state will go a long way to giving these efforts real traction.

“A warm welcome to the AFR 100 conference “ says Sean Dewitt (Director, Global Restoration Initiative)
“A warm welcome to the AFR 100 conference “ says Sean Dewitt (Director, Global Restoration Initiative)

In this journey the youth are not left behind, as there is strong conviction that the sustainability of AFR 100 lies in their adoption of this initiative. Youth should drive this agenda to their peers to get actively engaged in forest landscape restoration for livelihoods establishment and employment creation. We at Kijani Forests for change strongly believe that young people have the capacity to build innovations that can propel sustainable economic empowerment by linking the challenge of climate change with socio-economic opportunities for communities in Africa.

Just as the late Wangari Maathai said, “we are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder.” This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process. Let’s all embrace the forest landscape restoration agenda for the sustainability of our African forests. The time is now!

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