Reforestation Pledges Reach Only 12 Percent of Target

Posted on 19 June 2012 by admin

Fabíola Ortiz

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 19 (TerraViva) The world’s countries have committed themselves so far to restoring just 18 million hectares of forests by 2020, barely 12 percent of the goal of 150 million hectares agreed by the Bonn Challenge in 2011.

Deforestation in Venezuela is reducing absorption of CO2. Credit: Fidel Márquez/IPS

The announcement was made on Monday, Jun. 18 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which made a global appeal for more countries to join the voluntary campaign and pledge to reforest and restore green areas.

Two billion hectares on the planet are currently in need of restoration, said Stewart Maginnis, IUCN director of Nature Based Solutions.

“What we are trying to see is real action. Let us achieve this target of 150 billion hectares in a good quality. We have already 10 percent of the commitments. I believe we will see a significant move by the end of the year,” Maginnis told IPS.

Because of the voluntary nature of the campaign for commitments, countries that join it or decline to do so will not be subject to any penalties. However, Maginnis said “there is a lot of enthusiasm, countries want to move forward.”

According to IUCN President Ashok Khosla, forest restoration has major positive impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity.

The goal for 2020 is ambitious but achievable, Khosla said, adding that it would require an investment of 18 billion dollars a year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Service alone has announced it will restore 15 million hectares.

The government of Rwanda has also promised to restore two million hectares.

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, a coalition of government agencies, NGOs and private sector partners, announced a plan to recover one million hectares in the country.

According to the IUCN, restoration of 150 million hectares would inject 80 billion dollars into the global economy, and would cut the greenhouse gas “emissions reduction gap,” which exacerbates climate change, by up to 17 percent.

Gustavo Sánchez, head of the Mexican Network of Campesino Forestry Organisations (Red MOCAF) and a member of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), said that in Central America alone there are 20 million hectares of green areas that need to be restored.

“There are many examples of unsuccessful reforestation projects, used for propaganda purposes. A policy of forest cultivation cycles must be designed; planting a tree is just one step,” Sánchez told IPS.

“The next thing is to plan how the restoration is to be done. We propose productive reforestation with sustainable ecological goals,” he said.

Sánchez said he supported the idea of a regional sustainable development fund in Central America, although he admitted the governments are not adequately integrated. “But at national level, each country can create a fund to guarantee lines of credit,” he said.

Activist Bianca Jagger, mobilising public support for the Bonn Challenge, made a global appeal for the Plant a Pledge campaign, an online campaign for individuals to take part in a global petition to be delivered to the U.N. climate change talks in Qatar, in November.

“This is the largest forest restoration initiative the world has ever seen. We cannot continue to degrade ecosystems. When we reach the goals, we will see tangible impacts for future generations. This is only the beginning: we still have to persuade politicians all over the world,” said Jagger, the campaign ambassador.

“We must bridge the gap between governments, the adoption of commitments and carbon emissions,” she added.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report “State of the World’s Forests 2012″, green areas are the best way to store carbon.

The world’s forests store 289 gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass alone, and therefore can be used as a tool to mitigate climate change. Green areas also harbour two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity, the report says.

Maginnis stressed that negotiators of the Rio+20 outcome document must recognise the importance of restoring the world’s forests, and indicate this in the final text.

“We were disappointed that forest restoration was withdrawn from the original text. The document as it stands today does not include agroforestry actions that would improve soil conservation,” he said.

“We want the negotiators to recognise the importance of restoring green areas. This issue must be put back on the agenda,” said Maginnis.

Download PDF File

Download TERRAVIVA PDF File   Download TERRAVIVA PDF File


Expo Milano

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos


Terraviva talks to Giuseppe Sala, CEO of EXPO Milano 2015 Expo Milano 2015 is in Rio to kick off its global dialogue on food and energy. During a side on June 21, CEO Giuseppe Sala gives an overview of the Expo 2015 that will run from May to October in Milan, Italy.more >>.

Upcoming Events


RSS News from our partners

  • Are you ready to Connect4Climate?
    World Bank's social media campaign engaged African youth caring about climate change.
  • Natural capital accounting
    Thomson Reuters Foundation and the World Bank have jointly produced a video explaining the concept of “natural capital accounting” in the run-up to the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development. The seven-minute video news release (VNR) was created as part of a World Bank campaign for countries to carry through on promises to include the full [...]
  • IUCN World Conservation Congress
    IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is a long standing member of COM+. It helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, [...]
  • IFC, Union for Ethical BioTrade Encourage Businesses to Protect Biodiversity in Latin America
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 17, 2012—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Union for Ethical BioTrade today announced an agreement at the Rio+20 Conference to increase private sector awareness of biodiversity and strengthen market frameworks for protecting it in Latin America. In addition to aiding environmental conservation, the partnership will help [...]
  • Rio de Janeiro e Banco Mundial lançam inédito Programa de Desenvolvimento de Baixo Carbono da Cidade
    RIO DE JANEIRO, 18 de junho de 2012 – A Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Banco Mundial lançaram hoje, durante a Cúpula dos Prefeitos – evento paralelo à Conferência das Nações Unidas sobre Desenvolvimento Sustentável-Rio+20 –, um programa pioneiro na esfera municipal para colocar em prática ações para o desenvolvimento de baixo carbono [...]

Sponsors and Partners of TerraViva Rio + 20


TerraViva is an independent publication of IPS Inter Press Service news agency. The opinions expressed in TerraViva do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of IPS or the official position of any of its sponsors or partners.