At the first day of COP26 more than 100 leaders, whose states account for 86% of the world’s forests, committed to a plan to stop and reverse the loss of forests and land degradation by the end of the decade.

Following the COP26 World Leaders Summit ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’ event unprecedented action has been announced involving governments, companies and non-state leaders.

Twelve countries will provide $12 billion of finance to a new Global Forest Finance Pledge which will allow work in developing countries to restore degraded land, tackle wildfires and advance rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Eleven country and philanthropic donors pledged a further $1.5 billion to protect forests in the Congo Basin, home of the second-largest tropical rainforest.

Fourteen similar donors pledged $1.7 billion until 2025 to support the role of indigenous peoples and local communities as guardians of forests and nature. More than 30 financial institutions have committed to eliminate investment in activities which will increase deforestation through agriculture in tropical and subtropical countries. A further $7.2 billion of private sector funding has been “mobilised”. This is expected to become one of the largest ever public-private efforts to protect tropical forests and support sustainable development.

28 governments, representing 75% of global trade in key commodities that can threaten forests, have signed up to a new Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Statement. This statement is part of a Roadmap of actions designed to deliver sustainable trade and reduce pressure on forests, including support for smallholder farmers and improving the transparency of supply chains.

In addition, 10 of the largest companies managing over half of global trade in key forest-risk commodities such as palm oil and soy have announced that by COP27 they will lay out a shared roadmap for enhanced supply chain action consistent with a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway.

Scotland

Speaking ahead of the Declaration of Forests and Land Use, the Scottish Government Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan said that in the UK, 80% of all new tree planting takes place in Scotland.

Government figures show that Scotland has raised the bar on tackling climate change through tree planting by increasing its yearly targets from 12,000 hectares to 18,000 hectares of new woodland each year by 2024/5.

Ms McAllan said that Scotland was ready to share its forestry success story with world leaders visiting Glasgow.

She said:“Climate change and nature loss are the greatest global threats we face. We can and must start to reverse these threats. Planting more trees, and sustainably managing our forests is one part of the global solution.

“By planting the right trees in the right place we can soak up more emissions, whilst also providing a boost to our environment, our economy, and the lives of people.

“As we welcome world leaders to Scotland, we extend an open invitation to share our success story so that other nations can grow and protect their own forests and woodlands.”

Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said :“We applaud the commitment of world leaders to halt and reverse deforestation and other forms of ecosystem degradation by 2030, in parallel with restoring lost habitats to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. However, the devil is in the detail: reforestation must follow best scientific practice – planting the right tree in the right place – and protection must start with the most biologically valuable ecosystems such as the Brazilian rainforests, which I grew up exploring.

“Halting deforestation has been promised before but failed hugely. We can’t afford repeating that: two in five plant species now face extinction – this is our last window of opportunity. What we need now is delivery, and enough details to hold our leaders to account. Science shows how nature can bring long-lasting benefits to climate, biodiversity and humanity and we scientists are ready to help.”

Together We Can

On Tuesday evening at 7pm a video anthem created by Hollywood actor, Paul Hampton, will be projected on the walls of St Luke’s Church in the east end of Glasgow. Paul (84) has travelled to Glasgow to deliver his Message of Hope from America.

Glasgow and Nashville, two of the world’s major music cities, will be united as the city’s Lord Provost Philip Braat is connected live with Nashville’s Vice Major Jim Shulman. Glasgow’s Youth Choir accompany this musical video reveal and the Guardian of the Forest (a group of over 80+ indigenous tribes in Central and South America attending COP26) close this very special event with a prayer for humanity.

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Read more about COP26 on Planet Scotland here.