Now that almost 50 countries from around the world have pledged to restore 160 million hectares of deforested or degraded land, it is time to put down roots by turning those promises into flourishing landscapes that benefit local communities, said top government officials who met March 16-17 in Foz de Iguaçu, Brazil.

One key is the involvement of local governments and local communities, delegates said.

The meeting was the third high-level gathering of the Bonn Challenge, an initiative launched in 2011 to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.

But while each country has pledged a certain number of hectares, both the work of landscape restoration and its benefits are executed at a very local level.

And the details vary from place to place, as restoration experts found in Malawi when they set out to devise a plan for meeting the country’s target of bringing 4.5 million hectares under restoration by 2030. A commission traveled to every district in the country, meeting with local government officials, traditional community leaders and members of local communities, said Clement Chilima, Malawi’s director of forestry.

The goal was to “find out from (those people) what they, as owners of the land, think are degraded areas,” he said.

The definitions of degradation differed, but people generally used the word to describe “an area that is no longer as useful as it used to be,” Chilima said. “Mainly, it is the lost use of land.”

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Originally published on the Landscape News Website.

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