The Landscape Restoration Hub for the Eastern and Southern Africa countries was launched in Kigali on the occasion of the International Forests Day.
The hub will specifically be looking at ways to provide technical support, funding and incentives to forest restoration programmes in more than 24 countries of the region, Charles Karangwa, the hub co-ordinator explained.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a partner, conducted the first opportunity assessment and mapping report to identify priority landscapes to be restored.
The initiative is hoped to increase linkage and co-ordination between public and private sector.
Speaking at the occasion, Jesca Eriyo, the deputy secretary-general of the five-member East African Community bloc, said the initiative is in line with Bonn challenge which is the largest world initiative on forest landscape restoration launched in Germany in 2011.
Under the drive, government, civil societies and private sector target to restore 150 million hectares of forests by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.
This target by 2020 could bring net benefits of over $85 billion per year to national economies while by 2030 benefits could rise to $5,5 trillion and reduce carbon emissions by 11 percent as part of Reducing Emissions from Degraded Land and Forests programme.
Eriyo said annually over 55 000 million of hectares of forests are degraded in the region. This, she said, is affecting ecosystems, biodiversity, and tourism. — Xinhua.