Restoration of degraded land can create vast bioenergy crop potential, without constraining food crops or other land use options. This presents an important opportunity for African countries to develop modern, sustainable bioenergy from rapidly growing wood crops at the same time as pursuing ambitious forest landscape restoration initiatives.
Bioenergy from Degraded Land in Africa: Sustainable and technical potential under Bonn Challenge pledges presents a methodology to estimate the sustainable energy potential from land restoration in line with the Bonn Challenge, particularly as it relates to African countries. (The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.)
The African Forest Landscape Restoration initiative, AFR100, has set out to collect pledges to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, mostly in in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, 18 countries have pledged to restore 75 million hectares.
If all this land were devoted to bioenergy crops, it could yield some 6 exajoules (EJ) per year of primary bioenergy, the study finds. Further investigation could clarify which lands – the most productive or the most degraded – should be dedicated to bioenergy crops, both to attain the best yields and to meet other economic, social and environmental needs. In either case, however, bioenergy can strengthen the economic incentive to undertake restoration efforts.
The report includes more detailed country-level analyses for Rwanda and Kenya, which have applied a Resource Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) to evaluate their restoration options.