A Global Outlook
Forests occupy 30% of the planet’s geographical area and cover around 90% of all land-based animals, plants, insects, and birds. They are also one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world, absorbing and storing 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Forests provide important services that are sometimes overlooked. They can serve as a safety net for local communities, assisting them in dealing with climate shocks. Trees aid in the protection of soil and the regulation of water on farms. Crops cultivated in agroforestry systems are frequently more resistant to drought, excess rain, and temperature fluctuations. Wood is a valuable source of food and an additional source of income for many households. 80% of the fat and protein consumed in the Congo Basin originates from animals living in the surrounding woods. Furthermore, 2 million people worldwide continue to rely on trees as their principal source of fuel.
Deforestation is thought to be responsible for up to a fifth of all worldwide emissions each year, resulting in the loss or alteration of about 6 million hectares of forestry. Stopping this devastation is essential to keeping global temperatures below 2°C. There are several important challenges that must be addressed in order to strengthen forest solutions to climate change. These include understanding and tackling the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; enhancing the role of forests in national climate policies; mobilizing finance for mitigation and adaptation; recognizing, supporting, and rewarding local communities that protect and sustainably manage forests; and promoting transformational adaptation.
The Green Gigaton Challenge is a global attempt to mobilize money to achieve one gigatonne of high-quality emissions reductions through forest-based natural climate solutions by 2025 and then annually thereafter. The initiative was established by UN-REDD, the Environmental Defense Fund, Emergent, Forest Trends, and ART to channel funds into efforts led by national and subnational governments to achieve and go beyond their Paris Agreement nationally-determined contributions by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), while also assisting companies in supplementing their internal emissions reductions with the purchase of high-integrity carbon credits.
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to conserve enormous swaths of land that are currently covered by forests. The programme, which began in 2007 as a result of the Bali climate negotiations, intends to put a monetary value on carbon stored in forests and provide financial incentives to developing countries to cut emissions from forested land. It also encourages forest conservation and sustainable management, as well as the augmentation of forests as carbon stores through replanting and afforestation. In recent years, REDD+ frameworks have improved, and implementation and funding are expanding. This and related results-based payment plans may be crucial in assisting developing nations to travel along forest routes.
How much progress has been made? A report titled ‘Making Good on the Glasgow Climate Pact: A Call to Action to Achieve One Gigaton of Emissions Reductions from Forests by 2025,‘ finds that present governmental and corporate promises to pay for carbon reductions only account for 24% of the gigaton milestone goal. Only around half of these commitments have been realized through signed emissions reduction purchase agreements, and none of the funding for these commitments has been disbursed, despite forest-based solutions having a crucial annual mitigation potential of around 4 gigatons by 2030.
The world can fight off impending environmental problems like climate change and biodiversity loss with the help of trees, forests, and sustainable forestry. Changes in policy are required to redirect money away from deforestation-causing activities and to encourage investment in preservation, restoration, and sustainable use. To fulfill climate, biodiversity, and land degradation goals by 2030, funding for the three forest pathways must at least triple.
An African Outlook
Africa has seven of the ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, 60% of the world’s fertile farmland, and 95% of African agricultural activity is rain-fed. The effects of climate change will have a profound impact on the continent. If global warming exceeds 2°C, 12% of African flora and fauna species will become extinct.
Regional cooperation is also important, particularly in the management of forests, wildlife, and water resources. Africa’s biosphere does not respect arbitrarily chosen political boundaries, and achieving the dual feat of protecting cross-border systems while realizing their economic potential will necessitate effective collaboration, as well as training, education, and communication at all levels.
A great example is the Great Green Wall, an African-led effort with the goal of creating an 8,000-kilometer-long natural wonder that spans the whole width of Africa. The countries involved, namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal, have joined forces to battle soil degradation and restore native plant life to the area. The initiative employs an “integrated landscape approach,” which allows each country to address land degradation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity, and forestry within the context of its own state. With a decade in and around 15% completed, the effort is already restoring life to Africa’s devastating landscapes on an unprecedented scale, offering food security, jobs, and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.
Recognizing that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action is a critical point. Investing in adaptation techniques will be less expensive than investing in crisis responses to more frequent and severe climatic shocks. Africans are affected by climate change and must strengthen collaborative efforts to transform this crisis into an opportunity.
- Green Gigaton Challenge. UN-REDD Programme. Published 2021. Accessed November 11, 2022. https://www.un-redd.org/projects/green-gigaton-challenge
- Green G. Great Green Wall. Great Green Wall. Published 2014. Accessed November 11, 2022. https://www.greatgreenwall.org/about-great-green-wall
- Bank D. Climate Change in Africa. African Development Bank – Building today, a better Africa tomorrow. Published November 28, 2019. Accessed November 11, 2022. https://www.afdb.org/en/cop25/climate-change-africa
- NJ907/E E COMMITTEE on FORESTRY Twenty-Sixth Session 3-7 October 2022 Forest Solutions for Combatting Climate Change. Accessed November 11, 2022. https://www.fao.org/3/nj907en/nj907en.pdf
- REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fao.org. Published 2021. Accessed November 11, 2022. https://www.fao.org/redd/en/
- Environment U. Making good on the Glasgow Climate Pact: a call to action to achieve one gigaton of emissions reductions from forests by 2025. UNEP – UN Environment Programme. Published 2022. Accessed November 11, 2022. https://www.unep.org/resources/report/making-good-glasgow-climate-pact-call-action-achieve-one-gigaton-emissions