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Biblioteca Dryland restoration successes in the Sahel and Greater Horn of Africa show how to increase scale and impact. Restoring African Drylands

Dryland restoration successes in the Sahel and Greater Horn of Africa show how to increase scale and impact. Restoring African Drylands

Dryland restoration successes in the Sahel and Greater Horn of Africa show how to increase scale and impact. Restoring African Drylands

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Date of publication
Novembro 2020
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Drylands occupy more than 40% of the world’s land area and are home to some two billion people. This includes a disproportionate number of the world’s poorest people, who live in degraded and severely degraded landscapes. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification states on its website that 12 million hectares are lost annually to desertification and drought, and that more than 1.5 billion people are directly dependent on land that is being degraded, leading to US$42 billion in lost earnings each year. In Africa, three million hectares of forest are lost annually, along with an estimated 3% of GDP, through depleted soils. The result is that two-thirds of Africa’s forests, farmlands and pastures are now degraded. This means that millions of Africans have to live with malnutrition and poverty, and in the absence of options this further forces the poor to overexploit their natural resources to survive. This in turn intensifies the effects of climate change and hinders economic development, threatening ecological functions that are vital to national economies. Dryland degradation can be reversed, recreating more resilient and productive landscapes that will fix more carbon especially in the soil, restore ecosystem services, promote new viable enterprises and create employment, while reducing conflicts and migration. And together, these will increase the opportunities to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the targets of the Rio Conventions on desertification, climate change and biodiversity. In response, there is growing momentum for dryland restoration, reflected in national commitments to the Bonn Challenge globally, and in Africa, by the Great Green Wall programme and the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100). Setting ambitious goals is laudable, but what is increasingly seen is that achieving them will require a change in approach as well as concerted action. At current rates of degradation, it appears that it will take a generation or more for most countries to reach their targets. So, how to speed up the process? And how can scarce financial resources be utilized more effectively? Improving our understanding of restoration successes and documenting the proven approaches, significant outcomes and lessons learned from such successes is a start. This edition of ETFRN News adds to the body of knowledge. We are not yet winning the battle against land degradation in the drylands. In most countries, land degradation continues to outpace landscape restoration, meaning that each year more natural resources are lost. Substantially increasing funding to expand conventional approaches to support restoration does not seem to be a realistic option and experiences appear to show that unless well targeted, nor is it likely to be particularly effective. If we want to win the battle against land degradation — in the context of climate change, improving livelihoods and creating economic opportunities, especially for young people — then new approaches must be developed. More attention needs to be given to capitalize on what can be achieved through proven restoration practices, and to mobilize support for comprehensive and effective scaling strategies. This edition of ETFRN News contains inspiring examples of restoration successes in African drylands, several of which have already been scaled up. A key lesson is that the challenges of resource degradation can be sustainably addressed only when millions of farmers and pastoralists in each country decide to invest in relatively low-cost restoration actions, which already produce short-term economic and environmental benefits

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