As part of the $1 billion restoration commitment made last year at COP26 in Glasgow, the Bezos Earth Fund announced $50 million to help accelerate Africa’s locally led restoration effort.

“Local groups are critical to realizing Africa’s restoration goals,” says Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. We know there are hundreds of shovel-ready restoration projects across the continent, but there isn’t enough training or funding to help them develop. The Bezos Earth Fund is attempting to remove three important barriers to locally-driven restoration through its financing of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100). To begin, we must build capacity by using existing expertise within African institutions and beyond to enable restoration programs to scale. Second, we must ensure that financing is more properly intermediated to reach frontline groups. Finally, we must deploy best-in-class monitoring technologies to track development on the ground.”

The funds will be used to restore two African landscapes: one in the Rusizi Basin, which is part of the wider Congo Basin environment, and one in the Great Rift Valley, which is home to Kenya’s most iconic forests and serves as a breadbasket for the region. The funding will go for rehabilitation by entrepreneurs, community leaders, and smallholder farmers, as well as training for these organizations to help them build their businesses. It also has effective monitoring and verification mechanisms. The Land and Carbon Lab’s data will be used to support monitoring activities by providing real-time information on land use changes and accompanying carbon fluxes.

The financing will supplement the Earth Fund’s previous contribution to the AFR100 in order to speed up restoration across the continent. This money was put into a “Top 100” list of best-in-class African restoration projects and small companies. These community-led initiatives are recovering 20,000 hectares, providing 25,000 full- and part-time jobs, and implementing geo-referenced project monitoring tools. These initiatives and businesses, when combined, serve as models that can be developed up to millions of hectares.

Earth Fund Founder and Chair Jeff Bezos announced a $3 billion commitment to nature at COP26, including $1 billion to conserve the nature we have left, $1 billion to restore what we have lost, and $1 billion to transform food systems to grow what we need to live without destroying the planet for future generations.

“Since COP26, the Earth Fund has spent $300 million in conservation in the Congo Basin, the Tropical Andes, and the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, as well as $50 million in global restoration. “The Bezos Earth Fund is happy to announce today an additional $50 million to speed restoration in Africa, the continent with the greatest need and opportunity for restoration,” said Steer.

Sixty-five percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s arable land is too degraded to produce food, despite the fact that 70% of its inhabitants rely on it for a living. Across the continent, more than 750 million hectares of land may be restored. Through the AFR100 and Great Green Wall efforts, the African Union has set an ambitious goal of restoring 100 million hectares of damaged land by 2030. Restoration at this scale would sequester 3.0 GtCO2e – the equivalent of removing 650 million automobiles from the road for a year – while also improving food and water security, livelihoods, and climate resilience for an estimated 235 million Africans.

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