Eric Marx looks at how initiatives such as AFR100 and the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire are tackling land tenure issues, food insecurity and poverty to try to stop rampant deforestation
Africa lost about 34 million hectares of its forests between 2000 and 2010. Nearly a decade later the situation is worsening as the continent's last intact rainforests in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria become increasingly fragmented.
Africa’s forests are clearly under pressure from agricultural production: rubber and especially palm oil and cocoa. Yet experts say Africa’s reforestation efforts must be seen chiefly as a developmental challenge relating to food insecurity and, in turn, smallholder farming practices and overall good governance.
If you don't secure the farmer’s land rights, there’s no motivation for investing in long-term restoration
Patrick Kipalu, a co-ordinator for the Rights and Resources Initiative’s Africa programme, says at a minimum it’s necessary to give small farmers access to micro-finance and improved seed and cultivation techniques. Above all, if you don't secure the farmer’s land rights, there’s no motivation for investing in long-term restoration.
One trend now sees governments of many African countries putting in place legal and institutional frameworks to grant recognised land tenure. Liberia’s recently passed law recognising customary rights is held up as a model.
This kind of holistic approach undergirds the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), a pan-African...