USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen explains the Forest Service role in the Bonn Challenge on Aug. 2, 2020.
This week, the USDA Forest Service and partners around the world will celebrate a key milestone anniversary of the Bonn Challenge during a 24-hour digital event called #RestoringOurFuture. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares (370 million acres), of lost or degraded forestland by 2020, and 350 million hectares (865 million acres) by 2030.
This virtual event is open to everyone, so please join us online on September 2nd as we celebrate with forest managers, scientists and citizens from around the world.
Restoring forests means returning the ecological functions associated with healthy, resilient forests—forests capable of delivering a full range of ecosystem services, even in this era of climate change. Forest landscape restoration is where social, economic and ecological principles of sustainability come together for the benefit of both ecosystems and communities.
The 24-hour #RestoreOurFuture event will profile one country every hour on the hour, and includes an exciting schedule of live events such as interviews, videos and panel discussions. Global leaders and forest restoration specialists will celebrate the diversity of benefits from forest landscape restoration and call for increased global commitments from governments.
Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen will speak to the United States’ achievement in forest landscape restoration during an interview and live panel discussion. As Chief Christiansen says, "restoring forests is at the heart of what we do.” In 2012, the United States committed to the Bonn Challenge, pledging to restore 15 million hectares (36 million acres) by 2020. In partnership with other government agencies, states, tribes, NGOs and private landowners, the Forest Service surpassed its pledge in 2018 by placing 17 million hectares (42 million acres) under restoration. By the end of 2020, the United States expects to have 20 million hectares (49 million acres) under restoration, far exceeding the initial goal.
Meeting the Bonn Challenge target amid the complex landownership patterns of the United States was only possible by working across jurisdictions with local, state and tribal partners. An “all-lands” approach to restoring forests means engaging local communities and bringing diverse groups together to pool resources and work across shared landscapes toward mutual goals.
Taking part in this week’s global #RestoreOurFuture celebration allows the Forest Service to showcase innovative programs and approaches to restoring forest landscapes. For example, part of the agency’s Bonn Challenge work is the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. Under this program, community members across the country join together to propose projects based on a shared vision: large landscapes of healthy, resilient forests and communities at far less risk of catastrophic fire. Since 2009, the Forest Service has started 23 of these large-scale projects across the country, each lasting 10 years and covering at least 20 thousand hectares (49 thousand acres). From 2010 to 2019, these projects treated almost 2.3 million hectares (6 million acres) while creating and maintaining an estimated 5,400 jobs per year.
Looking to the future, the Forest Service emphasizes engaging our partners in shared decision making and priority setting to do the right work, in the right place and at the right scale. Conservation work does not end, and our agency’s commitment to the health and vitality of forest landscapes continues far beyond the Bonn Challenge.