Forest protection and restoration play a vital role in Ethiopia’s efforts to reduce emissions. Last week at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Norway announced 25 million USD in funding to support Ethiopia’s ambitions(*).
– I recognise the progress that Ethiopia has made in the forest sector. Large areas of biodiversity-rich forest are now protected from unsustainable use, producing eco-system services that benefit local communities, the country and wider region, said Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide on the occasion of the announcement.
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The new pledge is topping up Norway’s investment of more than 162 million USD to Ethiopia’s forest sector over the last 10 years (**). The decade-long support has contributed to the protection of one million hectares of natural forests, which are now under sustainable management schemes. It has also contributed to restoring one million hectares of degraded forests and the establishment of 75 000 hectares of high-value plantation forests. 300 000 livelihoods have been created and enhanced as a result of the partnership.
The importance of Ethiopia’s forests
Although historically half of Ethiopia used to be covered by forest, only 15 percent forest cover remains today. Notwithstanding the forest loss, the remaining forest is home to two of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and acts as a water tower for millions of people all the way into neighbouring Kenya. It also contributes to reducing the country’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and landslides. It is of outmost importance to protect what is left of these fragile ecosystems, not just for local communities, but for the wider region and the world. The Ethiopian government has pledged to ensure sustainable use or protection of all remaining forests and to double the forest cover by 2030. Norway’s forthcoming support to Ethiopia will contribute to scaling up work towards this goal.
African forest restoration presents an immediate opportunity to combat the climate and biodiversity crises while lifting people out of poverty and boosting food security. Under the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), Ethiopia has committed to restore as much as 15 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030. By returning lands to their original state, Ethiopia aims not only to mitigate climate change, but also to improve soil health, water availability and overall land productivity. This will in turn help improve food security and local livelihoods. The additional Norwegian funding will continue to contribute towards these restoration efforts in Ethiopia, complementing recently announced funding from the Bezos Earth Fund for locally led restoration in Africa.
* Equivalent to NOK 270 million.
** Equivalent to NOK 1264 million.