Credit: CIFOR/ Faizal Abdul Aziz

Efforts to preserve and restore massive land and waterways against climate change galvanised

Climate scientists have laid out the road map to achieve the goal in 2030 under the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration initiative.

The recent Global Landscapes Forum in New York saw youth activists, business leaders, policymakers and scientists galvanize action on the upcoming U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).

The initiative aims to restore land and waterways on a global massive scale, providing an urgently needed buffer against global warming, as it is recognized that restoration and other natural options could contribute more than a third of the solution to the climate crisis.

Forests, along with croplands, wetlands, oceans, and other natural ecosystems will be targeted for restoration during the decade, which will be led by the UN environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food anf Agriculture Organization (FAO) with partners of GLF.

“Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because the next decade will be the critical decade,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. “We hold in our hands this frightening responsibility to forever change the trajectory of our planet.”

The U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration overlaps the timeline identified in 2018 by the world’s leading scientists to stop post-industrial average temperatures from rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius or more and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The U.N. Decade, with an initial target to restore 350 million hectares, springs from the Bonn Challenge, an earlier initiative with a restoration target of 150 million hectares.

As part of the subsequent New York Declaration on Forests, that goal was extended in 2014 by an additional 200 million hectares to 350 million hectares.

IUCN is developing a tracking tool called the “Bonn Challenge Barometer”, which UNEP and FAO will use to monitor landscapes, among other tools, to report to the U.N. General Assembly.

Marine and coastal ecosystems are not yet included in this target, but UNEP and FAO say they intend to discuss with other U.N. entities how to incorporate them.

“We need to combine the old wisdom and experience with the new innovation, the ideas and that integration is what innovation is,” said Tim Christophersen, coordinator of the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration for UNEP.

Degradation is already affecting the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people, fuelling fears of a mass species extinction and costing more than 10 percent of the annual global gross product in lost ecosystem services, according to the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration.

Almost 40 percent of all land is used for farming. By 2050, degradation and climate change could reduce crop yields by 10 percent globally and up to 50 percent in some regions, the partnership states.

Worldwide, some 2 billion hectares of land, a footprint the size of South America are degraded.

“We need to act now,” said Robert Nasi, director general for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which jointly coordinates GLF with UNEP and the World Bank. “There is a huge cost for inaction. We need a call to action for forests,“ he said, urging world leaders to support an Earth forest summit to put forests on the global agenda.

Check the road map out at