How does forest restoration alleviate poverty?
Before COVID-19, 1.3 billion people were already living in ‘multidimensional and persistent poverty’. As a result of the pandemic, another 150 million or more are set to join them, according to the UN.
Many of these extreme poor are the smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with whom we work to restore their degraded land. Unable to grow enough food to feed their families, these communities are locked into annual cycles of hunger.
Their poverty adds to the pressure put on surrounding forests. Trees are felled for fuelwood or burnt for charcoal. This, in turn, influences local climate conditions: degraded forests lead to erratic rainfall and extreme climate events, which lead to soil erosion – which leads to less productive farmland and reduced crop yields.
Reversing this cycle may be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Growing trees – whether through intercropping on farmland or by restoring a natural forest – results in a healthy forest ecosystem, which can once again deliver its essential services: climate stability, clean air, abundant water, a rich biodiversity and healthy soils.
This, in turn, allows subsistence farmers to increase yield, producing more food. When farmers prosper thanks to sustainable farming practices, their communities prosper too: children attend school, and new economic initiatives emerge. With alternative sustainable sources of income, the pressure on the forest from animal grazing or for fuel is reduced.
Entire communities can be lifted out of hunger and poverty through good Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) programmes. That’s why WeForest’s projects involve communities every step of the way.
Watch our new video about our largest and most ambitious project in Desa’a, Ethiopia.