The Bonn Challenge is a comprehensive initiative for the restoration of forests and forest landscapes worldwide. Forest restoration is key to solving two of the most urgent problems of our times: climate change and the loss of habitats and species.
Around four billion hectares of the Earth’s surface, that is to say 31 percent, are covered by forests. The annual loss of natural forests, however, is at least 8.8 million hectares according to the German government’s forest report, or even ten million hectares according to the UN World Food Programme.
The Bonn Challenge aims at restoring a total of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land worldwide by 2020, and at least 350 million hectares by 2030.
Deforestation mainly takes place in the tropics and subtropics, but there is also significant loss of forests in the cold-temperate zone of the Northern hemisphere. The Bonn Challenge has established an internationally recognised platform with the aim of restoring destroyed forests.
This facilitates stabilising forest ecosystems, conserving habitats for animals and plants, creating income opportunities for local communities, expanding climate-relevant sinks and restoring water and soil to a healthy state.
The initiative was launched in 2011 when Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hosted a meeting of ministers at the World Resources Institute (WRI).
A large number of governments, private enterprises and groups of civil society supported the initiative by making concrete voluntary commitments called pledges. With this support, the target for 2020 was reached as early as May 2017. By now, pledges for forest restoration add up to more than 210 million hectares (August 2020).
The Federal Environment Ministry intensively promotes regional processes of the Bonn Challenge at political level, for example in South and Central America, Africa, central Asia and the Caucasus. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) supports targeted measures for implementing the pledges for forest restoration. Support is given, for instance, for the establishment of a seed centre in Rwanda. Other projects include the development of suitable policy and planning instruments and new, creative business models.