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Forest landscape restoration, a key mechanism to combat the climate crisis

Forest restoration practices increase carbon sequestration and contribute to climate change mitigation!

As more scientific information accumulates about global warming, climate change represents perhaps the greatest challenge of humanity in the 21st century. Among the world's greatest assets, forests perform key functions to mitigate climate change, cover almost a third of the Earth's surface and have the potential to capture  in its biomass, soil and products (in perpetuity) a tenth of the global carbon emissions planned for the first half of this century.

“Climate change cannot be won without the world’s forests. This, however, will be a complex and challenging feat. Nonetheless, it is one of the best large-scale investments we can make against climate change that could result in an equally large-scale dividend.” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, September 2008. 

Even when forests play such an important role in terms of mitigating climate change, they are increasingly under pressure. According to the Global Forest Watch (GFW) of the World Resources Institute (WRI), between 2001 and 2017, 337 million hectares of tropical trees were lost worldwide, an area the size of India. The main drivers of forest degradation and loss of tree cover include overexploitation, illegal logging, population development, fires and clearing for livestock or agriculture.

According to the first continental ecosystem risk assessment completed for temperate and tropical forests in America, more than 80% of these forest ecosystems in America are threatened (Ferrer et al. 2019). 

Forests can and should play an important role in mitigating climate change. The latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended adding 1 billion hectares of forests to help limit global warming to 1.5 ° C by 2050. In this regard, IUCN, through its forestry initiatives, helps to countries to implement effective policies for land and forest use, achieve national priorities and fulfill international commitments on climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR), one of the IUCN's main programmatic areas, is a continuous process of recovering the ecological functions of forests and improving human well-being throughout deforested or degraded forest landscapes. According to a global assessment of the restoration potential, there are more than two billion hectares of deforested and degraded land around the world, which offer opportunities to perform some type of restoration intervention.

In this world of rapid climate change and increased disaster risks, good environmental management is imperative to maintain ecosystems, their biological diversity and the services that these ecosystems provide functioning properly. This is why the Red List of Ecosystems develops and applies tools for assessing the status of ecosystems, increasing the available information on threats to ecosystems and their impact on human well-being.

 

Written by: Mariana Hernández

Style and format: Lila Garcia 

Provita Aug 08, 2019

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