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Restoring Forests to Restore Lives

In Africa, forests are considered sacred as they provide shelter and food for many people, plants and animals. WWF shares these sentiments, stating that forests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity. The majestic sub-montane, lowland and coastal forest landscapes in Tanga region, northern Tanzania are home to endemic animal and plant species – such as the rare Africa violet plant and black and white colobus monkeys – and provide a haven for the critically endangered Aders’ duiker (Cephalophus adersi). The landscape also serves as a wildlife corridor for elephants and other wild animals as they migrate between Kenya’s Tsavo and Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Parks.

Despite their immense value, forest landscapes are experiencing high degradation pressure from growing human populations in Tanzania. The demand for export crops, such as tea and coffee, has created job opportunities for many but on the other hand, resulted in mass forest clearing and ultimately altered the landscape’s ecology. Other human activities such as illegal logging and livestock grazing, artisanal mining and fires further exasperate the situation.
Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is a strategic and comprehensive process adopted by WWF to reestablish the harmony and balance of ecological functions of biodiversity in degraded forest landscapes – this includes wildlife, forests, rivers and people. Globally, WWF supports country pledges to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
Here in Africa, WWF has demonstrated its commitment to halting and reversing this loss through the launch and implementation of its ambitious, multi-country FLR in Africa Initiative. Operating across nine countries (and hosted by WWF Tanzania), the initiative works to kickstart and support the restoration of 13.5 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2027, as our contribution to AFR100 towards a sustainable, resilient future for all.
WWF’s FLR in Africa Initiative therefore functions as a central, umbrella hub for diverse, targeted and bespoke FLR projects that work with partners, national governments, regional economic commissions, private and faith-based institutions and local communities to tackle issues of food security, increase climate change resilience and mitigation, and combat rural poverty.
An interdisciplinary approach to FLR is crucial as “FLR is enhanced when it is integrated with social and economic components” – Nuhu Salasala, Policy Advocacy Officer, WWF Tanzania.
This was echoed during community consultations in the inception phase of the WWF CH-funded East Usambara FLR Project. The consultation, conducted to determine environmental and social risks to FLR work, identified human-wildlife conflict (HWC) as a major threat to agriculture and driver of poverty in Mbuta village, Mkinga district, Tanga region. Village members explained how elephants trample and destroy their tomato and sisal farming activities as they venture into their village in search of food and water during dry seasons.
Mbuta village members also shed light on the impact of increased human-elephant conflict (HEC) in their village due to the changes in their corridors. They shared how the situation has now reached a critical stage as children are dropping out of school due to hunger. Other organizations, such as Save the Children, are active in the village and providing relief to the young children. However, more still needs to be done to improve human well-being and restore the deforested and degraded landscapes.
The people of Mbuta expressed their openness to adopting FLR activities in their village to increase forest cover and promote biodiversity. They also highlighted their need for assurance that their harvests, too, will be protected. They urged WWF to find solutions that “break the cycle” of increased elephant populations due to increased forest cover that negatively impacts their harvests.  
To begin to address these threats and mitigate the risks, the WWF CH-funded East Usambara FLR Project will compliment its FLR activities with awareness raising and capacity building to stakeholders in the region. The project will also promote sustainable, climate-smart agriculture and energy technologies. This directly ties into the FLR in Africa Initiative objectives to (1) develop and maintain enabling policy, governance and institutional frameworks, (2) promote finance and market mechanisms and (3) deliver AFR100 commitments on the ground, at scale.
Together, the FLR in Africa Initiative will work to restore forests and the precious lives that live in harmony in and within them.
Degraded Landscape at a water source