Launch of the International Year of Forests

02 February 2011 | IUCN statement

IUCN statement at the official launch of the International Year of Forests (Forests 2011) at the UN Forum on Forests in New York.

Delivered by IUCN Director of Environment and Development, Stewart Maginnis.

IUCN applauds Rwanda’s bold, definitive and long-term commitment to country-wide landscape restoration, which stems from the highest political level.  

Rwanda’s ambitious initiative builds on the growing awareness on why halting and reversing soil, land, water and forest degradation is a key element underpinning national development.

IUCN has worked in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and the Secretariat of the UN Forum on Forests to develop the initiative announced today.

What the Government of Rwanda has told us is needed is expert input and advice—strengthened and balanced by local knowledge—to help develop feasible landscape strategies that will translate existing political commitments into rapid and tangible action.

First, IUCN will mobilize the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration and other partners to establish a learning and information platform on large-scale forest landscape restoration. This work will draw on the leading expertise of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management.

Second, IUCN will make available advice and support on how to incentivize transformational changes to land use and land-use practices through getting policy and institutional frameworks right.

Third, a programme as ambitious as this needs the support from all elements of society—from local communities to regional authorities to the private sector.

That’s why IUCN will work with the Government of Rwanda to put in place a credible and robust multi-stakeholder consultation process to support the design and implementation of the forest landscape restoration initiative..

This process will not only help communicate the message to all Rwandans—it will also provide space for communities and others to participate in the process, to build common purpose and avoid conflict.

Finally, in support of Rwanda’s near term action plan, IUCN will collaborate with the International Model Forest Network, Natural Resources Canada and the ITTO to initiate innovative restoration activities in pilot landscapes.

What we are witnessing today is the beginning of the largest NATURAL restoration initiative the world has ever seen, bringing us a step closer to realizing our vision of a greener world economy.

According to the latest research by IUCN, an estimated 1.5 billion hectares of the world’s lost and degraded landscapes —an area roughly the size of Russia —offer opportunities for restoration.

This is the lowest hanging fruit to advance the achievement of many international environmental and development goals such as combating poverty and hunger, and curbing climate change.

In this International Year of Forests, we must seize the momentum in order to turn around the general outlook for the world’s forests—for the benefit of all people and all life on our planet.