ROME (Landscape News) – The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals aim to completely halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and sustainably increase forest cover globally in the next two years.
While global annual deforestation rates have decreased from 7.3 million hectares in 2000 to 3.3 million hectares in 2015, a growing population and increasing demand for food and energy continue to drive alarmingly high levels of deforestation, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) reports.
Meanwhile, the loss of arable land is at 30 to 35 times the historical rate, according to the U.N. Development Programme, due mostly to erosion and pollution.
Young people take are integral in creating successful landscape restoration efforts and outreach to bring these efforts to the local level, according to Salina Abraham, youth coordinator at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) and president of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA), who will be leading a youth session at an upcoming CPF-organized conference on Feb. 20-22 where the focus will be on how to halt deforestation and increase forest area.
Abraham will also deliver a keynote speech as part of the “Vision for a Way Forward” plenary and participate in a panel on the “Role of Different Stakeholders” on Feb. 21, hosted by Vincent Gitz, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. The following day she will share her views at the closing plenary on key messages from the conference.
Government representatives will mix with members of the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to discuss challenges. A summary of actions to be undertaken globally and by countries to help halt deforestation and increase forest cover will be presented to the U.N. Forum on Forests (UNFF13) for consideration, and shared by the UNFF13 chair with the high-level political forum on sustainable development to be held this summer.
Abraham will be leading the capacity development workshop for students with Khalil Walji, liason officer between IFSA and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, prior to the start of the conference on Feb. 19. The session will provide training on three integral components of combating deforestation: the landscape approach, gender and the indigenous peoples consultation.
Mitigating the impact of agriculture – which is responsible for an estimated 80 percent of forest loss, according to CPF – will be a main focus of the delegates. Discussion topics will range from drivers of deforestation, development strategies, cross-sector coordination and integrated land use options.
The CPF is a partnership of 14 international organizations to promote sustainable management of forests.