Looking at land renewal through a faith-based lens

Parkland in Mali. Photo: ICRAF/Ake Mamo

The environmental and socio-economic side effects of climate change and land degradation are now well documented around the world, and many initiatives to address these issues have led researchers and scientists from various disciplines. An equally important ‘side effect’ that is often overlooked is the spiritual.

For people of faith, the spiritual consequences of land degradation can be as important as the socioeconomic and environmental consequences. This has raised the need to combine science and faith to establish ‘faith-based approaches’ to land restoration.

A recent Reagan Africa stakeholder engagement event brought together landowners, farmers and community leaders to try to make their land restoration practices more faith-based. come in To help raise awareness of how we can better understand and address the impacts of land degradation through a ‘faith-based lens’.


A key takeaway from the engagement is that a faith-based approach to land restoration understands that living things are connected to the earth and can only thrive if it is enriched.

In the discussion, leaders from different faith institutions cited quotes from various spiritual books that state the common beliefs that the earth is given by God to protect and that the unsustainable use of land and natural resources will have consequences.


Second, beyond treating nature conservation and planting trees as worship, faith-based approaches also share a common understanding that land restoration is a powerful way to improve livelihoods, food security, and combat the climate crisis.


Regarding the role of religious institutions in the land restoration process, it was pointed out that spiritual leaders and religious institutions played an important role in the land restoration movement due to their influence and provision of resources.

In many countries, faith institutions are trusted by communities and are critical implementation partners that can easily mobilize, raise awareness, and inspire behavioral change.

As one leader pointed out during the discussion, efforts to strengthen and grow without the consultation and support of religious institutions in highly religious countries such as Niger, Somalia and Senegal will fail.


Spiritual leaders and faith institutions also play an important role in the restoration of the land as stewards of peace. A large amount of conflict on the African continent is related to the security and resources that come from the land. As the climate crisis and land degradation worsen, such conflicts will increase in scale. However, faith-based approaches provide a unique solution to this issue, citing specific initiatives such as planting ‘peace trees’ to restore land and security.

wealth of wealth

Faith-based institutions have enormous resources that can be used to build partnerships from the ground up to restore land. One of the key opportunities that emerged from the discussion was places of worship and other associated infrastructure serving as places to encourage tree planting and environmental protection.

For too long faith communities have been neglected in development initiatives. However, when we begin to see all segments of society as affected by major issues such as land degradation, we can see them as stakeholders who contribute different but unique approaches to these issues.

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