Tuesday, 25 September 2018
From the Africa Director : the potential of Forest Landscape Restoration
I spent the last week of August at back to back conferences in Nairobi on the topic of Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) which is the modern jargon for planting trees (and much more too).
I think FLR is a potentially important topic for African foresters and FSC because global scale analyses show a high potential for FLR in Africa* and because the changing climate is driving global political interest in the best carbon sequestration technology known to mankind: trees. Western donors are prepared to invest substantial sums of money to support this, and yet analyses suggest these will only amount to 5-10% of what is needed. So everyone acknowledges the important role to be played by the private sector.
Unfortunately, as we know, few investors are brave enough to pump significant resources into plantations in Africa; the long time horizon required and uncertain business environment put many investors off. So some of the most interesting presentations I saw concerned the challenge of putting together innovative blended financing vehicles to de-risk such investments. But investors also complain of a lack of ‘bankable’ projects, and I was disappointed at the lack of forestry business models presented.
I think this is where we in FSC Africa can help. We know that some FLR funders are concerned about the fuzziness of the FLR concept – what actually are they paying for when they fund an FLR project? FSC can provide an answer in our highly developed standard of what responsibly managed forests look like. And the few investors who do finance plantations in Africa often demand FSC certification as a key risk mitigation tool and a proxy for effective management. We can also help connect funders and investors with those who know best of all the business model challenges in the sector: our existing certificate holders.
Not every FLR project will involve FSC certification, that is clear, and FSC standards may only be applicable to a minority of FLR projects, but the potential is still huge. If you are interested in working with us to develop this opportunity further please do get in touch with me on s.ball at fsc point org.
* Though it must be admitted these analyses often do not stand up so well as one zooms in from global to local scales.