Restoring Africa’s Landscapes – Takeaways from the Global Landscapes Forum and the Youth in Landscapes Camp – Accra 2019

Pragyan Raj Pokhrel giving a keynote presentation at GLF (© GLF)

My name is Pragyan Raj Pokhrel and I am a 2nd year Sustainable Tropical Forestry (SUTROFOR) student in TU Dresden. On 25th October 2019, I travelled to Accra, Ghana to attend the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). I also delivered a keynote presentation on behalf of the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), Rome on the key roles played by family farmers in restoration efforts.

Landscape restoration and the GLF

Landscape restoration has been defined as “a planned process that aims to regain ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes”. Under the Bonn Challenge and the UN Declaration on Forests, roughly 350 million hectares have been committed for restoration.  Countries have realized that efforts to restore degraded landscapes must be linked to improving the lives and livelihoods of people who live and work in forests and forested landscapes, especially in the Global South. As such restoration should focus on landscapes holistically, in ways that take account of various land uses—forests, agriculture and livestock production, among others— and with how land use decisions, livelihood needs and macroeconomic factors and policy decisions shape social and ecological outcomes in landscapes at various scales. Importantly, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will ensure that that all landscapes will be included in global and national restoration agendas.

On 29–30 October 2019, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) convened in the Ghanaian capital to discuss opportunities for restoration in Africa. Titled “Restoring Africa’s Landscapes – Uniting actions from above and below,” the event saw participation from farmers, foresters, pastoralists, policymakers, researchers, students and even members of the royal family from Africa and beyond. There were over 500 participants in the GLF. Preceding the GLF, 30 youths from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America took part in the first Youth in Landscape (YIL) camp where they spent two days with communities trying to understand their constraints in landscape restoration at the local level. I was one of them.

The youth team of the first Youth in Landscape camp visiting the Muni Pomadze Ramsar site in Ghana (© GLF)

I was part of the youth team that visited the Muni Pomadze Ramsar site, just a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of Accra. We engaged in workshops, community building activities and had in-depth conversations with key stakeholders of the Ramsar site. The landscape had a large swath of mangrove forests and local communities that heavily relied on them for subsistence. We learned the various measures taken at the local level to reduce the impact on the mangroves. The local people use mangroves as a source of fuelwood for cooking as well as smoking their fishes. One ingenious solution to reduce the stress on the mangroves was the introduction of coconut husk as an alternative fuelwood. This was very well adopted by the communities as coconuts were abundant in the landscapes. The Ramsar site was further zoned into core area, transition zone and buffer zone and sustainable harvest of mangroves allowed only in the buffer zone. After the two days of immersive landscape experience, we headed back to Accra to attend the Global Landscapes Forum.

My keynote presentation

From April to September of 2019, I interned at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome. I was involved in a project titled the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) which is a partnership between FAO, IIED, IUCN and Agricord. It provides direct financial support and technical assistance to strengthen forest and farm producer organizations representing smallholders, rural women’s groups, local communities and indigenous peoples’ institutions. At present, FFF works in Bolivia, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Vietnam, Togo and Zambia. On 30th of October, I delivered a keynote presentation in the session titled “Forest Landscape Restoration and Bioenergy. Focus on key success factors in Africa”.

I gave an introductory presentation on the Forest and Farm Facility approach and their work on charcoal and forest landscape restoration in Africa. I furthered talked about the significant role played by local producers and their organizations: They depend on wood fuels for their livelihoods and for food security (energy for cooking) and they are the crucial actors to achieve successful restoration on the ground. However, their important role and their actual and potential positive contributions are often not seen and not acknowledged, and they have low access to information, capacity building, services and finance to scale up their work. If they come together in organizations, they can better advocate for their role and voice their concerns and share their knowledge and experience. That is what FFF believes in. This was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from wide array of civil society organizations, government institutions and donor agencies.

This experience and exposure were very encouraging and fruitful for me. I got to interact with local community leaders, technical experts, civil society leaders and other fellow students from across the globe, sharing knowledge and learning more about the African landscapes.

By Pragyan Raj Pokhrel

 

If you would like to know more about the GLF and their other events, https://www.globallandscapesforum.org/

If you would like to know more about more about the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), http://www.fao.org/forest-farm-facility/en/

If you would like to know more about the internship opportunities at the FAO, http://www.fao.org/employment/collaborate-with-us/internship-programme/en/

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