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New UN forestry project to help countries meet climate commitments

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
09 December 2019   |   3:56 am
More than two dozen countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America are set to benefit from a UN project to help tackle climate change through better forestry management.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

••• ‘Soil erosion must be stopped ‘to save our future’

More than two dozen countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America are set to benefit from a UN project to help tackle climate change through better forestry management. Under the scheme, announced on Monday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 26 nations will soon be able to provide improved data on forest and land use – a key pledge of all State signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Accurate monitoring of forest and land use is essential if countries are to track progress towards the sustainability goals (SDGs) as they adopt climate change-mitigation and adaptation measures, FAO explained.
Forests provide security, income

“Forests are more than trees and fundamental for food security and improved livelihoods”, FAO said in a statement.“They contribute to resilience of communities by regulating water flows, providing food, wood energy, shelter, fodder and fibre, generate income and employment as well as harbour biodiversity. Furthermore, forests support sustainable agriculture and human wellbeing by stabilizing soils and climate.”

The $7.1 million initiative is being implemented by FAO and national officers, who already support 70 countries with forest-monitoring to ensure more sustainable land management.The data gathered on the status of the world’s forest resources is available via FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment  (FRA 2020) reporting platform. Welcoming the launch of the project, Hiroto Mitsugi, from the agency’s Forestry Department, explained that many developing countries are unable to generate reliable forest data to highlight their “climate achievements”.

“This project will provide an essential platform for more transparent forest-related data, helping countries to compile, analyse and disseminate better data in line with the Paris Agreement’s requirements,” he said. In concrete terms, the scheme will support an e-learning course on transparency in the forest sector for national forestry staff.

The course will also be made available more widely, to universities, the private sector and intergovernmental organizations, FAO said.
Reached on 12 December 2015, the Paris Agreement calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future.

To date, 187 Parties have ratified the Agreement, out of 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The United States formally announced its withdrawal just last week. The Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Countries are also expected to pursue efforts to limit the planet’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and invest in ways to strengthen their ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.All Parties to the Agreement are also required to implement “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.

This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts and participate in a global stock take every five years to assess progress.Although soils are essential for human well-being and the sustainability of life on the planet, they are threatened on all continents by natural erosion, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on World Soil Day calling for their protection.

Healthy soils are the basis for healthy habitats for all living beings. They provide food, clean water, raw materials and various ecosystem services.But salinity, acidification and loss of biodiversity are just some of the threats that soils are currently facing.

This year’s World Soil Day commemoration focuses on reversing soil erosion for our future. “We are celebrating a treasure beneath our feet which hosts a quarter of the planet’s biodiversity and provides about 95 per cent of our food”,said Eduardo Mansur, FAO’s FAO’sDirector of the Land and Water Division. Unsustainable agriculture practices and other improper land use changes, such as illegal deforestation, can accelerate erosion up to a thousand times, according to FAO.Soil erosion affects soil health and productivity by removing the highly fertile topsoil and exposing the remaining soil. It decreases agricultural productivity, degrades ecosystem functions and amplifies hydrogeological risk, such as landslides or floods.

“Soil erosion can also cause significant losses in biodiversity, damage to urban and rural infrastructure and, in severe cases, lead to displacement of human populations”, explained Mr. Mansur.FAO spelled out that by 2050, it may reduce up to 10 per cent of crop yields, which is equivalent to removing millions of hectares of land from crop production.   

“We must stop soil erosion to save our future”, stressed Mr. Mansur. “It takes up to 1,000 years to form one centimeter of top soil, but this one centimeter can be lost with just one heavy rainfall if soil cover is not protected”. To prevent and minimize soil erosion, farmers and other land users can adopt sustainable sol management practices under an enabling environment.

Underscoring that FAO is ready to support them, he urged everyone to take action. “Fighting soil erosion must be everyone’s fight”, he concluded. “Join our effort. Stop soil erosion and save our future.”   World Soil Day is held annually on 5 December to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.