Director of Vital Landscapes at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Dr Susan Chomba has underscored the need for African leaders to massively invest in technology to achieve reforestation.
Chomba who leads WRI’s work on forest protection and sustainable management, restoration, food systems transformation and governance in Africa made this known while fielding questions from Climate Activist, Levy Nyirenda on Net Zero Speaks, a new show in the Net Zero series which was launched by the Protect our Planet Movement in association with Planet Classroom.
While noting that technology is good as it makes it easier to do a rapid assessment of areas where there is deforestation, Chomba stressed that forest restoration is critical and that “If we lose our own remaining natural forests, we will lose our livelihood.”
“At the WRI, we are big on technology and we are able to monitor near real-time deforestation using the Global Forest Watch which can synthesize data quickly and tell you about real-time trends around deforestation, “she said.
She however maintained that while technology is necessary, it will not do everything because projects such as tree planting require the usage of local people to give them a sense of ownership and create employment opportunities for them.
She explained that although Africa accounts for only 4% of global carbon emissions, African farmers are struggling with drought and flooding and a rapidly changing climate they did little to contribute to.
“We need to shift to development pathways whether in transport food production or energy that are clean,” Chomba said. “The “big carbon emission reductions” must come from industrialized countries”.
She said that there was a need for Africans to learn to adapt to the rapidly changing climate, adding that the continent must work to have climate-resilient development pathways.
She noted that some reforestation projects have not yielded many positive results because those who embark on them do not make efforts to engage and get local knowledge.
“Most people only sit in their offices and write proposals about places they want to restore without an understanding of the people’s socio-cultural norms and their ecosystem “she stated.
The Protect Our Planet Movement
The POP Movement is an initiative which is designed to among other things, address the urgent need to share information and knowledge with the youth on solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN, mitigate climate change, and adapt to its growing impacts.
The POP- Intended to ultimately reach the size, scale, and momentum to become a global movement- mobilizes the youths globally to take collective action needed to mitigate climate change and protect threatened ecosystems.
On the Net Zero video and podcast series, 24 youth climate activists from the POP Movement in association with Planet Classroom ask international thought leaders working on the environment the big questions as to how their nations are progressing towards their 2050 Net Zero pledges.
Yearly, an estimated 3 million hectares of forests are lost in Africa. Globally, roughly 15 billion, out of the estimated 3 trillion trees on Earth are cut down each year.
While degradation affects 65% of land in the continent, 3% of its GDP is lost annually from soil and nutrient depletion on cropland. And rural smallholder farmers bear the brunt, as they are largely dependent on the stable weather patterns, healthy soils and tree cover and water that degraded land threatens.
However, organizations such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) are working to bring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa into restoration by 2030.
The initiative among other things connects political partners — participating African nations — with technical and financial support to scale up restoration on the ground and capture associated benefits for food security, climate change resilience and poverty alleviation.
In order to respond to evidence that current abuse of nature has accelerated global warming and degraded natural resources to a degree that threatens the wellbeing of people, the United Nations (UN) had also launched the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
It is expected that the Decade will use overseas development aid to influence land use policies that align with its 10-point strategy which will be channelled through instruments such as the Global Environment Facility’s drylands programme and the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund.
These efforts will be particularly important to Africa’s drylands which are typically low rainfall areas where high temperatures and a lack of water constrain crop, animal and forest production.