Bonn Challenge crosses the 150 million hectare milestone with pledges from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia and Sri Lanka

Four countries have made restoration pledges to the Bonn Challenge – totaling 1.65 million hectares – at the first Asia Bonn Challenge High-level Roundtable in South Sumatra. 

Photo: IUCN

Dr. Tungalag Ulambayar, Permanent Advisor to the Minister of Environment and Tourism announces Mongolia's pledge to the Bonn Challenge, on behalf of Oyunkhorol Dulamsuren, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia. 

With today’s announcements, Bonn Challenge commitments now total 150.03 million hectares, a major milestone for the global effort. 

The new pledges include 0.75 million hectares by Bangladesh, 0.6 million hectares by Mongolia, 0.1 million hectares by Pakistan, and 0.2 million hectares by Sri Lanka.

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030, and was launched at an event hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Germany in 2011.

Today’s Asia Bonn Challenge event, jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of South Sumatra in cooperation with IUCN, brought together twelve Asian countries to identify ways to collaborate on forest landscape restoration (FLR) in support of the Bonn Challenge.

Only a few months ago, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, we crossed the 100 million hectare milestone – standing here today with over 150 million hectares is a powerful indication of the immense support for restoration across the globe,” said Horst Freiberg, Head of Division for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forests, Biological Diversity and Climate Change at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany.

Restoring 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030 will generate an estimated US$ 170 billion per year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields and forest products, driving rural development and alleviating poverty.

The Bonn Challenge is not just a driver for forest restoration, it is also a means for green growth, a tool for climate change mitigation, and it creates green jobs. What started as a very good idea outside of the negotiation process is now a restoration movement which has shown remarkable results on the ground,” said Malik Amin Aslam Khan, IUCN Vice President and Chair of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Green Growth Initiative and the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project, Pakistan.

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Representatives from India and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) in Pakistan, both of which have also made pledges to the Bonn Challenge, were present and shared valuable lessons from their restoration efforts, including the fact that India is on track to meet its 21 million hectare pledge. Pakistan’s new national pledge is in addition to the sub-national KPK contribution.

Pakistan is pledging 0.1 million hectares to the Bonn Challenge as part of the Green Pakistan Programme spearheaded by our Prime Minister, H.E. Nawaz Sharif. The costs of implementing this commitment will be shared equally by the government and provinces. Other provinces in Pakistan are likely to make their own additional pledges in the near future,” said Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Governor, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

It has been estimated that restoring 350 million hectares of degraded or deforested landscapes by 2030 can sequester 1-3 billion tonnes of CO2e per year. For comparison, 1 billion tonnes of CO2e is equal to over 95 million homes’ worth of energy use for one year in the US.

“Sri Lanka pledges that 200,000 hectares of forest land will be restored by 2020 in line with our Presidential Initiative “Sri Lanka Next: Blue Green Era”, as communicated in our Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, by increasing our forest cover from 29% to 32% by 2018,” said Hon. Anuradha Jayaratne, Deputy Minister for Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Presidential Initiative is a landmark campaign to engage all sectors and citizens in the country’s efforts towards sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives. The country also has a forest policy establishing a forest land bank for forest landscape restoration towards providing local and global benefits with the participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector.

During its economic transition, Mongolia lost almost 467,600 hectares of forests and the socio-economic costs of the loss are evident. The government has recognised the potential of the Bonn Challenge to redress this – the restoration of forests can reduce soil erosion, protect clean water supplies by filtering pollutants and help conserve agricultural lands. It also contributes to mitigating climate change by absorbing carbon and helps protect against the effects of climate change by absorbing wind energy and water surges from storms.  

Mongolia has been experiencing prolonged droughts and we are committed to increasing our forest cover from 7.9% to 8.3% to address this. We are keen to join the Bonn Challenge because it will allow us to access technical expertise from other countries – a critical gap hindering Mongolia’s forest conservation efforts. We are glad that we can partner with IUCN to initiate our restoration programme,” said Dr. Tungalag Ulambayar, Permanent Advisor to the Minister of Environment and Tourism, on behalf of Oyunkhorol Dulamsuren, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia.

Restoring forests contributes to water security, agricultural productivity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and helps countries progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change. By joining the Bonn Challenge, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have taken a concrete step towards a greener, more sustainable future.

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For more information on forest landscape restoration visit InfoFLR.org – IUCN’s information site on the global FLR movement. 

For more information on the Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress – a protocol that will track progress of commitments made to the global restoration goal – see here

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