By Ben Aschenaki and Victoria Wiafe-Duah

The threats to the forests of the world are well documented and seen globally. Climate change, land use change for agriculture and illegal logging are but some of the challenges for our forests – the global provider of livelihoods for around 1.6 billion people, the home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial species, and the source of 75% of the world’s accessible freshwater.

However, in the face of these significant challenges, there are some real-life examples providing reasons for optimism and this is especially true in Africa. While you would be forgiven for being pessimistic (how often do we hear good news?), we’d like to present just 5 spots of hope for the future of Africa’s forests from our portfolio of supported projects, with lessons for the rest of the world:

  • The cocoa industry is united with government in the world’s two largest cocoa producing countries Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire on a joint framework of action to address this serious driver of deforestation for which at least 2.3 million ha of the Upper Guinean rainforest in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana were cleared between 1988 and 2007;
  • …And they are starting to walk the talk with early-action partnerships such as that of major cocoa company Touton who is partnering with the Ghana Forestry Commission, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Nature Conservation Research Centre, Agro Eco, communities and SNV to achieve a deforestation-free cocoa landscape in the Juabeso and Bia Districts of Western Ghana and to develop a market for climate-smart cocoa beans;
  • In the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia, GIZ and TechnoServe are partnering to open up a new category of specialty forest coffee to the global market while incentivising forest conservation and bringing long-term economic benefits to coffee growing communities;
  • Meanwhile in Kenya’s largest closed-canopy montane forest, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) is working with key partners including Unilever Tea Kenya and the Kenya Forest Service to reduce the impact of livestock on driving deforestation in the South West Mau Forest, through the development and implementation of an innovative livestock production model;
  • Last (but not least!), smallholder farmers are being incentivised to plant billions of trees across Africa and produce sustainable charcoal, through The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Tree Fund’, an innovative finance mechanism designed to incentivize forestry organisations and farmers to plant billions of trees for commercial use by providing finance at an affordable rate and for a long-time horizon, playing a critical role in addressing unsustainable wood fuel production – one of the key drivers of forest degradation in Africa.

As we accelerate towards 2020, Partnerships for Forests will continue to support innovative partnerships to create resilient and sustainable supply chains that conserve our eco-systems, are commercially viable and deliver positive social impact for local communities.

It is only through true partnership and collaboration that we will we achieve our global goals.

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