Author: Mike Gaworecki | Published: December 7, 2017
The government of Nigeria has announced its plans to restore four million hectares, or nearly 10 million acres, of degraded lands within its borders.
The West African nation is now one of 26 countries across the continent that have committed to restoring more than 84 million hectares (over 200 million acres) of degraded lands as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), an effort that aims to bring 100 million hectares of land under restoration by 2030. These commitments also support the targets of the Bonn Challenge, a global initiative to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.
Nigeria’s economy is the largest in Africa, but deforestation has become widespread amidst the country’s rapid pace of urban development and population growth.
“Nigeria is happy to be associated with the AFR100 initiative and Bonn Challenge. We are committed to restoring degraded forests to improve citizens’ livelihoods through food security, poverty alleviation, a sustainable environment and the achievement of the [UN] Sustainable Development Goals,” Bananda Aliyu, the director of the Drought and Desertification Amelioration Department at Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment, said in a statement.
“Our government understands the environmental benefits of restoring degraded forest landscapes and hopes to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions, Land Degradation Neutrality targets and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of Nigeria.”
Climate mitigation efforts around land use, land-use change, and forestry are included in 83 percent of the climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), submitted by each of the 189 countries that signed the Paris Climate Agreement.
Recent research has found that “natural climate solutions” — defined as “conservation, restoration, and/or improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands” — have huge potential to help meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming in this century to two degrees Celsius or less. The restoration of degraded forests and other landscapes was found to have the most climate mitigation potential of the 20 natural climate strategies examined for the study.
While there’s an abundance of research showing its environmental and climate benefits, restoration is increasingly coming to be seen as a good investment, as well. Close to $1.5 billion in financial commitments have been made to AFR100 initiatives, for instance. And more than $2 billion in private investment funds have been committed to restoration projects in the Caribbean and Latin America through Initiative 20×20, a country-led effort similar to AFR100 through which 16 nations have committed to restoring 53.2 million hectares of land.