A Big Tech-backed campaign to plant trees might have taken a wrong turn

Two zebras stand in the foreground. In the background, trees dot a grassy landscape.
Two plains zebras in the savannah looking at the camera in Seronera, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. | Photo by: Sergio Pitamitz / VWPics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Roughly half of the land targeted by a major tech-backed forest restoration campaign in Africa was never meant to be forest, according to a new analysis. Planting trees in the identified area could actually harm grasslands and savannas that may have been inadvertently mislabeled as “forests” in need of help, the report concludes.

The paper, published in the journal Science today, takes stock of AFR100, an initiative endorsed by 34 governments in Africa and that counts the Bezos Earth Fund and Meta among its major funders. The goal of AFR100, short for African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, is to restore at least 100 million hectares of land by 2030. AFR100 disputes the new analysis.

For forest restoration to be successful, the…

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