NAIROBI, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Robust investments to expand forest cover in Africa are required as the continent gears up for a climate-resilient, just and inclusive future, experts said on Wednesday.
The experts attending the forum for forestry stakeholders convened by the Nairobi-based African Forest Forum (AFF), stressed that the continent was adequately positioned to transition to a greener future if it channeled resources towards restoring degraded tropical forests, mangrove swamps and peatlands.
Marie Louise Avana, a Senior Program Officer at AFF said that African countries should lobby for additional funding to support reforestation at the upcoming 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit (COP27) slated for Egypt from Nov. 6 to 18.
Avana noted that the Egypt climate summit dubbed African COP27 presents a lifetime opportunity for the continent to push for robust financing and technical support required to conserve tropical forests, and promote climate resilience.
"For Africa to address climate change impacts effectively, it must tap into forest resources. The continent must therefore focus on financing expansion of its forest cover, adapt to climate change and sustain livelihoods," Avana said in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
Senior policymakers, forestry experts, industry leaders, and researchers are attending the Nairobi forum to discuss forest and tree-based climate change adaptation for English-speaking African Nations.
The five-day forum that is taking place ahead of next week's global climate summit in Egypt will discuss best practices that can be adopted locally to promote climate resilience in Africa by leveraging its indigenous forests.
Avana said that despite some climate and human-induced threats, Africa remained the epicenter of virgin forested landscapes whose contribution to a carbon-neutral future is immense.
According to Avana, a Cameroonian scientist, Africa had 636.64 million hectares of forest in 2020, representing 16 percent of the world's forested landscapes even as the continent expanded tree cover on farms and urban centers.
She called upon African countries to tap into multilateral funds earmarked for forest-based mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis besides enacting new policies to enhance the conservation of the vital resource.
Vincent Oeba, the Principal Research Scientist and National Coordinator of the Climate Change Research Program at Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), said that COP27 offers an opportunity for African countries to unlock the financing required to expand their forest cover as part of resilience building.
Oeba said that market-based approaches are needed to tame forest loss in Africa, support the creation of robust carbon markets, and hasten the green transition in the continent.
"We look forward to clear and time-bound commitments from the international community to accelerate reforestation in Africa and minimize adverse effects of climate change to livelihoods," said Oeba.
He noted that a well-funded forestry sector had the potential to hasten the attainment of net zero goals in Africa besides providing social and economic benefits to rural communities.
Lizzie Mujuru, a lecturer at the Natural Resources Department of the Zimbabwe's Bindura University of Science Education, said that African countries should incentivize communities that are protecting forest resources as part of their climate adaptation measures.
Mujuru added that healthy forests are key to sustaining water, energy and food security for African communities reeling from climate emergencies including droughts, floods, and disease outbreaks. ■