The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, have launched a project which targets forest landscape restoration (FLR) for 25 000 hectares (ha) of degraded landscapes in Ntcheu district. “This is one of the first initiatives in Malawi that will help the country to pursue the goal of restoring more than one-third of Malawi’s land, rivers, and lakes in the next years, to foster a healthy and productive state, as noted in Malawi’s National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy 2017”, said the FAO representative in Malawi, Zhijun Chen.
Pressure on natural resources, particularly forests, is very high in Malawi because of the increasing reduction of land available for agriculture, increasing energy requirements, and conflicts related with land use. Ntcheu district specifically experiences numerous challenges such as lack of good quality water, low agriculture production, limited livelihood opportunities because of deforestation and land degradation.
The new project aims to create opportunities to increase the socio-economic, ecological and climate-related benefits that can derive from large-scale FLR efforts with activities planned for around the landscape of Mpira dam catchment. This catchment area is a critical location due to its strategic environmental relevance for life and livelihoods in the central and southern regions of Malawi. “I am encouraged to see that this project will in fact focus on improving food security through increased agriculture production, catchment rehabilitation and management to increase ecosystem services like water and improved livelihood opportunities through improved values chains,” said the Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo MP during the launch event in June 2021.
The project is part of the wider Large-scale forest landscape restoration in Africa project, also funded in Cameroon, Kenya, and Rwanda simultaneously, by the German Government through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GiZ). The initiative is under the International Climate Initiative (IKI) initiative, which is supporting partnerships for integrated climate action around the world. In Malawi, FAO is coordinating implementation in close collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Bank.
“The IKI initiative supports globally, funding areas such as reduction of greenhouse gases, adaptation to consequences of climate change, preservation of natural carbon sinks with focus on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and, protection of biodiversity,” the Deputy Head of Cooperation, Knutt.
The Malawi project targets land users and their organizations at the local level as well as district and traditional authorities. There will also be active collaboration with private sector enterprises, non-governmental organizations, finance institutions, and national governmental organizations. Under the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), Malawi committed in 2016 to restoration of 4.5 million ha in the country by 2030. The project supports achievement of this target under both the AFR100 and the Bonn Challenge. It also aligns with Malawi’s National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy and National Charcoal Strategy (2017).
It is expected that Malawi’s participation in this FLR initiative will advance Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on Land and contribute to the achievement of SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 5: Gender equality, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 13: Climate Action and SDG 14: Life below Water.
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