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UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

The United Nations has issued a global ‘call to action’ to mobilize the political and financial support necessary to restore the world’s deforested and degraded ecosystems over the coming decade to support the wellbeing of 3.2 billion people around the globe. More than 2 billion hectares – an area larger than the South American continent – stand to be restored. Sources: Timberbiz, CIFOR

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, approved by the General Assembly on 1 March, will run from 2021 to 2030 and emphasize scaling-up of restoration work to address the severe degradation of landscapes, including wetlands and aquatic ecosystems, worldwide.

“I think there are many stars that are aligning now,” said UN Environment’s Tim Christophersen, who serves as chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, in an interview with Landscape News.

“We have to conserve what is left – stop the bleeding – but also give patient Earth … a blood transfusion.”

“These things need to go in parallel. There’s a clearer understanding of that now, and the broad movement for restoration now has many years of experience.”

UN Environment will work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN(FAO) to lead the implementation of the Decade.

Land degradation is estimated to cost the global economy between USD 2 and 4.5 trillion each year, while economic benefits of restoration efforts could annually reach an estimated USD 84 billion.

At least 7 million hectares of tropical forest landscapes are cleared and degraded each year, putting livelihoods, biodiversity and food security at risk, while exacerbating climate change, conflict and human migration.

Increased funding could implement and expand projects to restore ecosystems, reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss, and shore up country-level efforts to meet elements of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Decade will accelerate existing restoration goals, such as the Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded ecosystems by 2030, at an estimated cost of about USD 800 billion.

To date, some 57 countries, subnational governments and private organizations have committed to bring more than 170 million hectares under restoration. It builds on regional efforts such as Initiative 20×20 in Latin America and AFR100, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, which aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land under restoration by 2030.

Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and remove an additional 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.