Community leaders from across the African continent gathered in Nairobi, Kenya after the Global Landscapes Forum(GLF) conference in October this year to explore ways to scale up success in land and forest restoration.
For the first time in the GLF’s five-year history, one plenary session at the conference – entitled ‘Voices of the Landscape’ – was devoted to community restoration success stories and featured representatives from five diverse African landscapes.
The follow-up workshop engaged a much broader set of participants from community restoration settings across the continent. It was designed to further develop the learning process that was kick-started in the conference, and to identify a path for collective action in the service of community-based land and forest restoration in Africa.
Participants hailed from various landscapes in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal and Uganda. Esther Mwangi, a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and Cora van Oosten, a human geographer at Wageningen University, facilitated the workshop.
The group reflected on key learnings from the GLF; success factors from their own initiatives; and the elements still required to bring restoration to scale. Then, they used a participatory process to ascertain the most important elements of their discussions and develop a final manifesto.
The manifesto cements the communities’ commitment to a global landscape restoration agenda, and acknowledges government and partner efforts to this end so far. It then makes a series of statements about what else is needed in order to achieve the restoration targets of AFR100 (which seeks to place 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested land in Africa under restoration by 2030), calling for:
- More government backing and political goodwill, reflected in the enforcement of policies that support restoration and enhance information dissemination and accountability;
- Stronger land and tree tenure rights for community members, especially women;
- Equitable distribution of benefits from forest resources to communities, with emphasis on gender equality and youth involvement;
- Landscape restoration efforts that support community livelihoods, for example through enhanced access to markets, payment for ecosystem services schemes and meaningful engagement with the private sector;
- Local communities taking charge of landscape restoration activities in the context of all-inclusive stakeholder engagement processes;
- Stronger partnerships, networking and shared learning;
- Support for successful restoration programs to scale up regionally and internationally;
- More funding allocated to applied science (which takes indigenous knowledge into account) to provide information to support decision-making and influence policies for sustainable landscape restoration.
The workshop participants also agreed to start an African Leaders’ Landscape Restoration Network, which will provide opportunities for community leaders to share information amongst themselves, as well as within communities in their respective countries and networks.
At the following GLF conference in Bonn in December this year, Zipporah Matumbi – a community restoration leader from Meru County in Kenya – presented the manifesto during a plenary session. “Let us join together as a team so that we can restore our landscape together,” she urged. “Together, we can make it.”