Reforesting Africa.

Author:Williams, Stephen


The AFR100 plan aims to restore loom ha of degraded forest in Africa. A project in Ghana illustrates what can be done and the challenges that lie ahead.

The world's forests are being lost at an alarming rate. The repercussions of this loss are profoundly serious, and Africa is on the front line.

The World Resources Institute states that African countries have experienced the world's most extreme land degradation through deforestation and this is seriously impacting Africa's economic development and compromising the continent's resilience to climate change.

There are various reasons for deforestation, all due to human activity. A major factor is a reliance on the biomass energy from burning firewood and charcoal. By some estimates, about 90% of wood that is gathered, including felled timber, is used as fuel.

And yet, trees absorb and store carbon dioxide, pumping out oxygen, filtering the air and purifying water. They provide a refuge for thousands of species of fauna and flora, and are an important resource for both food and medicines. So how can forest loss be halted and reversed?

This was the theme of a major conference held in March in Accra, Ghana, entitled Forests for the Future--New Forests for Africa.

Over two days of debate and a one-day site visit, delegates were able to share their views and discuss the practicalities of restoring Africa's landscape and reforesting the continent.

The message was that Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) can deliver significant benefits, and that restoration efforts have already proven successful in several African countries. It is now time to scale up FLR to meet the target of reforesting 100m ha (equivalent to 1m [km.sup.2]) set by AFRioo. This plan--the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative--was agreed by 10 African countries at the Cop21 talks in Paris, December 2015.

A principal sponsor of the conference was the Dutch forest management company Form International. The company has been working in Ghana since 1999, when it began researching the possibility of developing a forest plantation, establishing a pilot project of 64ha of teak in the Asubima Forest Reserve, north of Kumasi, in 2001. Its subsidiary Form Ghana was established in 2007

Form International's executive director Paul Hoi explains that the company had begun working closely with the Forestry Commission of Ghana and had been greatly attracted by the government's policies seeking to stimulate foreign...

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