On the eve of the Rio 20+ Earth Summit the first commitments, including those by the USA forest service and a Brazilian coalition, have been made to a campaign to mobilise support for the largest restoration project in history.
At a press conference in Rio De Janeiro today the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), accompanied by environmental campaigner Bianca Jagger, announced the first of what they hope will be many signatories to the Bonn Challenge.
The commitments were unveiled by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (15 Million hectares), the Government of Rwanda (2 million hectares), and the Brazilian Mata Atlantica Forest Restoration Pact-a coalition of government agencies, NGOs and private sector partners (over 1 million hectares).
The total of over 18 million hectares means that more than 10% of the Bonn Challenge target of 150 million hectares is already in place. The Bonn Challenge was launched in September 2011 at a ministerial roundtable hosted by Germany, IUCN and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR). At the same time, IUCN and its partners identified 2 billion hectares around the world as providing opportunities for restoration.
The target to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested forest landscapes – almost three times the size of France – by 2020 would see more than US $80 billion net injected annually into the global economy and the “emissions reduction gap” cut by 11-17%.
The announcements in Rio+20 come just days after IUCN and Airbus came together to launch Plant a Pledge (www.plantapledge.com) an online campaign to rally public support for the Bonn Challenge in the form of a petition to be delivered by campaign ambassador, Bianca Jagger at the UN Climate Change talks in Qatar this November.
The IUCN, supported by Airbus, is asking the global public to call on governments, landowners, corporations and NGOs to make concrete commitments to the Bonn Challenge. The IUCN will use the worldwide collective awareness to get commitments in writing that say where, when and how land will be restored.
Two billion hectares of land worldwide – the size of South America – offer opportunities for forest landscape restoration and each year an area of forest the size of New York State is lost. Repairing landscapes would restore their ability to support people and wildlife and would significantly increase global capacity to process greenhouse gases, according to IUCN.