During the Paris Climate Summit, ten African countries have committed to restore 31 million hectares of degraded and deforested land, under a new push to make 100 million hectares productive again by 2030.
The AFR100 scheme, launched in Paris, will be backed by $1 billion from the World Bank and additional funds from Germany, as well as $545 million in private-sector investment.
The countries taking part so far are Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda.
The new land restoration programme builds on national commitments made by African countries for a U.N. deal to tackle climate change, due to be agreed in the French capital very soon.
So far, 13 of the climate action plans submitted by African governments include restoration, conservation of standing forests or agriculture that adapts to climate shifts and limits greenhouse gas emissions.
Implementing those pledges starting in 2020 would reduce Africa’s annual emissions by 36 percent, or 0.25 percent of global emissions, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).
“These countries are well on their way to meeting the goal of restoring 100 million hectares of land, which will help sequester carbon and bring economic benefits to low-income, rural communities,” said WRI president Andrew Steer.
As well as storing carbon, forests and trees can improve soil fertility and food security, increase water supplies, reduce desertification, boost biodiversity and help create green jobs, according to a statement on the AFR100.
With Africa’s population expected to nearly double by 2050, demands are increasing on already scarce soil and water resources, as climate change bites.
Land restoration efforts include planting trees, stopping soil erosion and improving soil health, bringing wide benefits.
Restoration is already happening. For example, in Niger, farmers have increased the number of trees across 5 million hectares of agricultural land, improving food security for 2.5 million people, the AFR100 noted.
The scheme aims to help countries and communities share knowledge and resources to achieve restoration on a bigger scale, it said.