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Investing in Trees and Landscape Restoration in Africa

What, Where and How



  • Oluyede C. Ajayi
  • Louise E. Buck
  • Dominic Elson
  • Duncan Macqueen
  • Terhi Majanen
  • Eliot Masters
  • Jeffrey C. Milder
  • Carole Saint-Laurent
  • Seth Shames



November 1, 2011

Short Summary

This paper investigates tree-based and other land management technologies for restoration and livelihood, private market incentives within landscape restoration goals and identifies opportunities for investing in forests and trees in African landscapes.



Growing demand for food, fuel and other commodities, coupled with natural resource scarcity, has created an urgent need to produce more with less. Intensified production on farmed land in the tropics will be necessary to protect intact ecosystems from conversion and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), and most ongoing efforts to prepare national REDD+ strategies have rightly acknowledged this potential.A range of agroforestry and landscape restoration practices can respond to this intensification challenge, increasing soil fertility and crop productivity very significantly, often by an order of two to three times compared to current yields in many parts of the tropics. Agroforestry farming systems and more intensive tree planting and management systems can also act as a safety net for rural families during times of environmental stress, and provide a wide range of timber, fuels and non wood forest products. Arguably, no other form of agricultural land use can potentially lock up more carbon per hectare of cropland than farm forestry and agroforestry making these technologies the ideal vector for addressing both food security and climate change in overpopulated and degraded landscapes.Yet, despite the very considerable body of on-farm experience which has been gained in agroforestry and other tree-based technologies, investment in these approaches has been lagging. The challenge ahead is not so much a shortage of scientific knowledge about suitable agroforestry or more intensive farm forestry systems, but rather a lack of understanding of farmers’ specific constraints to adoption, and deficiencies in policy support and investments to scale up already well proven techniques.


Building on PROFOR’s past experience with Investment Forums in Africa, PROFOR organized with a number of partners a new investment forum hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Gathering representatives of leading private sector financial institutions, forest and agribusiness companies, non-governmental organizations. national forest associations and high level national government policy leaders, the Forum helped to identify immediate investment opportunities, to discuss the main constraints to investment and to identify policy and institutional reforms needed to overcome those constraints, as well as mechanisms to help create an enabling climate for accelerated private sector investment.

Main policy messages

  • Policies and institutions need to be reoriented to ensure that investments in trees and landscape restoration are addressed in the decentralization agenda.
  • Improving value-addition at the local level can increase incentives for better management of landscapes and trees in farming systems.
  • Payments for environmental services can help.  Markets for environmental services from trees and from better managed farming landscapes are potentially important for carbon sequestration, for biodiversity conservation, for tourism, for and watershed management.
  • Forest organizations need to be revitalized.
  • Rural development efforts should work across sectors to encourage synergies.
  • Policies that support good governance encourage private investment.
  • Conversely, policies that improve land, water and tree governance can minimize the risks of large-scale land acquisitions.


Besides a very successful forum which was attended by 100 participants in Nairobi in May 2011, this activity yielded a collection of background papers available on this page and an Overview piece for distribution at Forest Day 5. The theme is also resonant with the World Bank and development partners’ growing interest in climate-smart agriculture.

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