By Swati

 - December 5, 2019

The major drivers of deforestation and degradation are excessive logging, bushfires, extensive agriculture, itinerant livestock farming as well as political, legal, institutional, technical and economic constraints. Representatives of 10 states under the Environment and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Dakar, Senegal at an IUCN organised Ministerial Roundtable on the Bonn Challenge on October 24-25, 2019. Supported by the government of Senegal and Germany, the discussions resulted in the Dakar Declaration on Forest Landscape Restoration.

Officials highlighted the need to unlock additional funding for restoration. Countries are leveraging domestic budgets where possible – Niger has allocated an average of 3 billion CFA Franc per year for restoration and Guinea has its National Forestry Fund and Environmental Conservation Fund. In Burkina Faso, a Sustainable Land Management and Forest Landscape Restoration Program as well as the 2009-2018 Partnership Program for Sustainable Land Management support restoration. Similarly, Liberia has a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Forest Development Authority (FDA) that allocate budgets to restoration and, in Nigeria the government is distributing free seedlings and encouraging states to commit 0.005% of their annual budget to reforestation programmes. In partnership with other funders, Guinea has launched a Mano River Ecosystem Conservation Project as well as mangrove management and resilience programmes and in Burkina Faso, a project is being developed with the Italian government to transform livelihoods through restoration in the Sahel. Despite these ongoing efforts, countries called for additional funding to truly upscale restoration.  

Countries also shared updates on the progress of their commitments – for example, Nigeria has brought 5,000 ha. under restoration as part of their 4 million ha. pledge and Guinea estimates that they have achieved approximately 35% of their target. Liberia is focusing on the restoration of 180,000 ha. of savannah, 120,000 ha. of agricultural landscapes where commodities like oil palm and rice are grown and 100,00 ha. of buffer zones.

With these encouraging results, and the signing of the Dakar Declaration, the ECOWAS region is well-positioned to capitalize on the benefits of restoration to livelihoods, climate change mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity conservation.   

 Photos: Scamperdale / Flickr and IUCN