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June 18th, 2012
U.S. and Others to Restore 18 Million Hectares of Forest

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U.S. Forest Service, Rwanda, a Brazilian coalition and indigenous groups from Mesoamerica have committed to restoring a total of more than 18 million hectares of their forest landscape. This will pump billions into local and global economies and bring a host of other benefits, according to IUCN.

“IUCN is delighted to see such important contributions to the Bonn Challenge target to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020,” says Julia Marton-Lefčvre, IUCN Director General. “The largest restoration initiative the world has ever seen is now truly underway, and will provide huge global benefits in the form of income, food security and addressing climate change. We urge other countries and landowners to follow suit.”

The commitments are made 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) and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Indigenous Peoples.

These historic announcements come the day after the result of the Rio+ Dialogues public votes were announced. Following more than 1 million public votes from across the world, restoration of 150 million hectares of degraded lands is the number one proposal of the dialogues in the forest category, and number two overall.  

“While these announcements are landmark events in themselves, we cannot rest on our laurels,” says Stewart Maginnis, IUCN Director of Nature Based Solutions. “The benefits of landscape restoration on this scale provide nature-based solutions to some of our most urgent global challenges, such as poverty, food shortages and climate change. We must support other countries and landowners in making similar commitments to achieve the Bonn challenge of restoring 150 million ha by 2020.”

The total of more than 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.

IUCN’s latest analysis, announced at Rio+20, shows that once restored, 150 million hectares would pump more  than $80 billion into national and global economies and close the climate change ‘emissions gap’ by 11-17%.

The announcements in Rio+20 come just days after IUCN and Airbus came together to launch Plant a Pledge ( 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.

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