BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 25 Nov '17

New partnership calls for global efforts to protect and restore 1 trillion trees

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF and BirdLife International have launched the Trillion Trees programme, a 25-year initiative to help protect and restore one trillion trees – the number needed to reverse the global decline in tree cover.

The problem

Approximately half of the world’s original six trillion trees have been lost since the beginning of civilisation. Most of the remaining forests have been damaged by industrial-scale human activities, yet still hold more than 45% of terrestrial carbon, are home to two-thirds of all land-based plant and animals and support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people.

The planet is losing 10 billion trees per year, leading to widespread impacts on biodiversity, carbon sequestration, local economies and human health. The goal of the Trillion Trees partnership is to catalyse large-scale investments to protect, restore and replant trees in the most at-risk landscapes.

At the same time, it aims to inspire greater action under private and public forest commitments guided by the Paris Climate Agreement, the New York Declaration on Forests and the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), among other frameworks.

The vision

The vision is that by 2050, through concerted collective action by all sectors of society, one trillion trees will have been re-grown, saved from loss and better protected around the world.

Deforestation will have ended, significant numbers of trees will have returned to areas where they were lost and large areas of existing trees will be better protected. These trees – in forests, woodlots and farms – bring multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.

Aligning goals

The partners – three of the world’s largest conservation organisations, which collectively work in over 120 countries – will create tailored solutions, including pilot projects that involve corporate actors.

Collectively, corporate commodity supply chains are linked to 80% of the loss of tropical forests across Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, the areas most crucial to absorbing global greenhouse gases.

‘It’s about the right trees in the right places. With responsible land-use comprising almost 25% of the global climate solution, aligning our forest work through Trillion Trees is our contribution to one of the largest societal priorities of the 21st century. Combating forest loss and increasing forest restoration are central to meeting some of the world’s most important environmental goals, and BirdLife is thrilled to be part of this important effort.’

PATRICIA ZURITA
CEO of BirdLife International

Realising commitments

WWF, WCS and BirdLife are already working together to implement some of the activities outlined in the Trillion Trees initiative. They are targeting high-priority forests around the world, particularly from where palm, soy, beef and timber products are derived.

The policy goals these activities support include the Bonn Challenge to restore 350 million hectares of forests by 2030, the CBD’s Aichi Targets, which aim to halve forest loss by 2020 and the New York Declaration on Forests, which aims to end deforestation by 2030 and also reinforces the Bonn Challenge goal on restoration.

In the coming years, the Trillion Trees partners will expand these initial activities and mobilise finance for other priority areas for solutions that account for local forestry and related social and economic issues.

‘Although forest restoration plans and strategies to avoid deforestation exist around the world, on-the-ground implementation and financing of these commitments lag well behind these ambitions.

‘Trillion Trees will help achieve global forest commitments by bringing together a diverse group of corporate, non-profit and community stakeholders to deliver targeted conservation projects and unlock access to private-public funding.’

SIMON PETLEY
Forest and finance programme manager, WWF-UK

The value of trees

Recognising the value of trees, the partners will use a combination of better forest regulations and protections, assisted natural regeneration and the replanting of trees to develop successful projects that are fundable and effective.

‘Many companies and governments already recognise the value that trees hold for human societies and wildlife, which is why so many are committing themselves to ‘zero-deforestation’ policies. WCS is proud to leverage more than 100 years of scientific and advocacy expertise throughout the tropics to help these partners target their investments effectively to improve global tree cover.’

JOHN ROBINSON
WCS’s chief conservation officer

An example of a project currently under development is the drive to establish sustainable, deforestation-free models of cocoa production that’s linked to the protection of adjacent forests in Africa and elsewhere.

Other projects include the scaling up of environmental certification in locally controlled forests in Tanzania and the support of large-scale restoration plans for vulnerable watershed areas of the Rwandan highlands.

Trillion Trees has received seed funding from UK-based funders Restore-UK to help conserve the world’s most at-risk trees from further loss and restore critical ones that have already disappeared.