For centuries, the world’s forests have been cleared and removed for agricultural or other land uses, often resulting in degraded lands found in almost every country today. As global population increases and climate change threatens ecosystems worldwide, there is an urgent need for more sustainable management of land to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
As a process of restoring degraded lands and retrieving their economic and environmental productivity, forest landscape restoration is a promising way to achieve desalination of the soils and reduced wind and water erosion. It also helps filtering drinking water and raising the level of groundwater in restored areas and the storage of carbon dioxide in the newly accumulated biomass.
So far, countries in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia pledged to restore close to 3 million hectares of degraded land under the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which also count under the ECCA30, a regional initiative to restore 30 million hectares by 2030 in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Countries interested in forest landscape restoration commonly cite the lack of funding as a major impediment for its implementation. This is a particularly acute issue in the light of current Covid-19 outbreak, as funding priorities are expected to shift towards the economic recovery and strengthening and re-building of healthcare systems.
To address the commonly asked question: “what are sources of financing forest landscape restoration?”, the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), hosted a webinar where representatives of donor countries and key international institutions informed countries interested in forest landscape restoration about existing sources of funding.
Speaking on behalf of the Federal German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Dr Michael Krause-Besan, IKI Secretariat, introduced the International Climate Initiative (IKI) project portfolio supporting forest landscape restoration efforts in ODA eligible countries, available through large-scale programmes and thematic/country calls.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) also offers long term financing opportunities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, informed Mr. Marc Dumas-Johansen. Another potential source of funding presented at the webinar was the Global Environment Facility (GEF), that already dedicated around USD350- million in grants towards restoration purposes in its current funding cycle (2018-2022). This info is available in the presentation: https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/timber/meetings/2020/20200716/U.Apel_GEF_Sources_of_financning_GEF.pdf.
Speaking on behalf of GEF, Mr. Ulrich Apel underlined that an active pledge under the Bonn Challenge represents an important selection criterion for funding restoration and will be taken into account during the next funding cycle. Mr. Stephen Hart from the European Investment Bank illustrated the financing opportunities for biodiversity and climate adaptation for businesses and cities using Nature-based Solutions, through the bank’s Natural Capital Financing Facility.
In their conclusions, speakers underlined the diversity of financing mechanisms and sources of finance, and the importance of linking restoration efforts to national objectives in order to access finance from climate, biodiversity, sustainable development and the private sector.