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FEATURE STORY March 21, 2018

Why We’re Betting on Forests


Photo credit: Andrea Borgarello / World Bank

On this year’s International Day of Forests, experts at the World Bank tell us about some of the most impressive ways forests are helping to improve people’s lives, fight climate change and conserve biodiversity.

John Roome, Senior Director, Climate Change:

“Keeping global temperature rise to below 2°C requires coordinated action at an unprecedented scale and speed. But it's not an impossible challenge. Recent research shows that nature-based solutions, including forests, can provide up to 37 percent of the needed mitigation to meet international climate targets. At the Bank, we are proud to partner with policymakers, business leaders and civil society on programs that harness the potential of land use for both climate and development goals. And protecting and restoring forest landscapes will be critical to our success.”

Learn more:

Why we should be more optimistic about forests and climate change
Addressing climate change: why forests matter
Forests: Stabilizing Climate and Supporting Development

Karin Kemper, Senior Director, Environment and Natural Resources:

“Good management of forests underpins economic growth, vibrant rural economies, and healthy ecosystems, including the large potential for climate mitigation. Countries increasingly invest in sustainable management of their forests to create jobs and improve ecosystem services from forests, such as water regulation and filtration that underpin national economies. Halting forest loss and degradation and restoring degraded lands also come from forest-smart interventions in agriculture, mining, and water infrastructure. Change is possible and underway. To operate at the scale needed to promote sustainable livelihoods and reverse environmental degradation, national actions are needed to green fiscal policies and financial systems, as well as the governance of land resources.”

Learn more:

Engaging the private sector in results-based landscape programs
Forest and farmer-friendly cocoa in West Africa
Cutting Deforestation out of the Cocoa Supply Chain
How Sustainable Guitars Are "Instrumental" to the Future of Cameroon’s Forests

Juergen Voegele, Senior Director, Agriculture:

“Clearing forests for agriculture is the main driver of deforestation around the world because the idea persists that clearing forests is the easiest way to achieve food security and reduce poverty. But we are seeing just the opposite in our projects. In agroforestry initiatives across Africa, Asia and Latin America, we see how planting shade trees protects crops from drought and temperature extremes and increases yields. Local communities are growing seedlings and creating plantations on degraded lands that produce more food, create new streams of income, and take the pressure off primary forests. Forests and trees are critical to achieving the triple win of increased productivity, enhanced climate resilience and increased carbon storage.”

Related links:

A Recipe for Protecting the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tropical Forests
It's not just forests that matter: In Africa, trees on farms provide substantial benefits
Mexico: Sustainable Forests, Sustainable Communities
Why We Must Pay Attention to Forests

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director, Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience:

“About a quarter of all forest carbon is stored in trees and in the ground on communal lands. The expansion and protection of tribal land rights can be one of the most cost-effective ways to protect forests and sequester carbon. Indigenous Peoples and local communities have the closest connection with forests, and with the right knowledge and tools, they are best placed to manage them sustainably. It’s encouraging to see the outreach to and training of these communities that is a part of large-scale efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). If REDD+ programs can be used as a tool to map out territories and clarify land tenure, and to help get legal standing for these communities, this will be a critical contribution to the protection of forests. To fully benefit from REDD+, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and traditional knowledge have to be recognized. They tell the story of their forests better than anyone else.”

Related links:

An early education in development
Indigenous peoples, forest conservation and climate change: a decade of engagement
Civil society actively engaged in national REDD+ strategy preparation in Togo

Caren Grown, Senior Director, Gender:

“Women’s dependence on forests means they have more to lose when forests disappear. When you think about the forest reserve itself, you see women being custodians, protecting the forests. Yet, when it comes to making decisions and policies on forests and how benefits are accrued and shared, women are often not at the table. This is an issue we’ve faced in Ghana, and I know many other countries are grappling with it too. But what’s exciting is that large-scale, transformational landscape programs, like Ghana’s Emission Reductions Program with the World Bank, are bringing women to the table where decisions are made, and this is creating a model for other development work in the country. It’s encouraging and long overdue.”

Related links:

WhatsApp-ening with Forests and Climate in Togo?
Being inspired by gender actions in forest landscapes around the world
Secure tree tenure equals better future for women cocoa farmers in Ghana