Laying the ground for landscape restoration at jurisdictional level: The case of the Belier Region in Cote d’Ivoire

Laying the ground for landscape restoration at jurisdictional level: The case of the Belier Region in Cote d’Ivoire
20 May 2021 - Côte d'Ivoire has one of the highest rate of deforestation in Africa, estimated at 2.69% annually over the period 2000 - 2015. Deforestation is mainly attributable to agriculture (62%), with cocoa, rubber and oil palm in the lead, followed by illegal logging and firewood production. Deforestation is more pronounced in the Bélier Region (Central Côte d'Ivoire), and estimated at 2.97% for the period 2000 - 2015. To remedy this, Côte d'Ivoire has committed to the international mechanism of Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), since 2011. Restoration is a core component of the National REDD+ Strategy, which aims to restore 20% of the national forest cover, while achieving poverty reduction from a social, cultural and gender equity perspective. 
 
Since 2015, the Bélier Region - where the forest tends to no longer exist with only 12,755 ha, or less than 2% of the total area of the region - has become a statutory member of the Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF-TF), which supports jurisdictions to protect tropical forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promote realistic pathways for rural development. As a result of this partnership, the Bélier Region was selected as a pilot to implement a GCF-TF project aiming to deploy forest ecosystem restoration solutions, in alignment with the national objectives of REDD+ and the Forest Protection, Restoration, and Extension National Strategy 2019-2030. 
 
With technical support from the UN-REDD team, a participatory and inclusive dialogue was conducted under the leadership of the Regional Council of Bélier and led to the development and validation of the Strategic Plan for Forest Landscape Restoration in Bélier. The strategic plan is structured into four components, namely: (i) Protection, restoration of forests and adaptation to climate change in the Bélier region; (ii) Improvement of living conditions of local communities in restored forest landscapes; (iii) Development of economic opportunities associated with forest landscape restoration; and (iv) Strengthening land use governance in the Bélier region. 
 
Besides positive environmental implications, the Strategic Plan for Forest Landscape Restoration in Bélier also aims at improving the living conditions of women and men in the community by strengthening food security and land tenure to reduce the risk of conflict. It seeks to support women empowerment and young people's employability, and reduce rural poverty through the development of economic opportunities around conservation, sustainable management, and restoration of forest ecosystems.
 
A high-level workshop was organized on 26 March 2021 to share experiences and lessons learned from the development of the strategic plan. More than 74 participants from private sector, the civil society, the government and key representatives from other jurisdictions attended the workshop. The workshop was presided over by the Minister of Sanitation and Salubrity, President of the Cavally Regional Council Ms. Anne Désirée Ouloto with the notable presence of Mr. Fofana Mamadou, Advisor to the President and Prime Minister in charge of Agriculture and the Environment. 
 
Laying the ground for landscape restoration at jurisdictional level: The case of the Belier Region in Cote d’Ivoire

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Authors: 
Bertrand Tessa, Regional Technical Specialist for Africa, UNDP Climate & Forests Programme
Jean Paul Aka, REDD+ Expert, UNDP Green Commodities Programme/UN-REDD, Côte d’Ivoire