African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative

African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative Showing Considerable Results In Malawi.
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African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative Showing Considerable Results In Malawi. Source: Unsplash

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The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative Shows Considerable Results in Malawi

According to a report released in 2022, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative in Malawi has seen remarkable progress and benefits from the program launched in 2015.

Forests are Essential

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of thriving and healthy ecosystems. Throughout the world, many have taken to thinking that the natural environment and its components are resources meant to be extracted, processed, and used. 

However, this mindset has led to the near-complete environmental collapse we are experiencing, threatening our existence. In some places like Africa, that fact is known all too well by its inhabitants. 

African forests and natural landscapes have been severely damaged due to extractive farming, mining, and other factors. The people on the continent have to import nearly $35 billion in food for their populations due to decreased crop yield. 

However, many countries have understood that crop yield directly affects their ecosystem functioning. That is why, in 2015, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative was implemented. And in 2022, the progress report has shown results.

Malawi is Setting the Pace

Malawi, one of the nations involved in the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, has committed to restoring 4.5 million hectares of its land. The nation is still compiling its figures for 2023; however, according to Tangu Tumeo, forests, landscapes, and livelihoods program officer at the IUCN, his organization’s restoration barometer has estimated that around 1.7 million hectares of forest have been restored. 

Malawi has disclosed the measures implemented to facilitate its goals, though. They have invested in agricultural technology, community forests, soil and water conservation, river restoration, and forest management. 

They have also been scaling agroforestry, farmer-managed natural regeneration, and community management of forest lands, as these practices have already existed in Malawi but not at the necessary level. Herbert Mwalukomo, executive director for the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA), a Malawi NGO, said, “What this African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative is doing is to get the earlier practices more organized and promoted. There is now the involvement of more partners, including the private sector.” 

For example, last September, the National Bank of Malawi signed an agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change to restore three degraded forest reserves in three regions through the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative. 

See also: Thousands of children in Malawi are learning how to grow food at school.

Challenges Ahead, but Benefits Showing

While this report and the ones to come on this groundbreaking initiative show significant promise, there are still challenges ahead for the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative.

For example, deforestation remains a significant problem within Malawi, as 96% of the country’s nearly 20 million population rely on charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating. This has been a driving force behind the 15,000 hectares of forest lost annually. 

However, effective measures taken make a remarkable difference in the well-being of the individual undertaking them. For example, Douglas Tana, a farmer in the district of Thyolo, has observed an enormous increase in crop yield since he undertook agroforestry practices with the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative.

In 2010 he harvested 250kg of maize, and now, anywhere from 700 to 900kg. This has allowed him to become self-sufficient, and speaking on this fact, he said, “It is unbelievable how things have transformed, how I have become food secure from a piece of land this small.”

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