Afforestation/reforestation (A/R) programs spearheaded by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play a significant role in reaching global climate policy targets and helping low-income nations meet the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, these organizations face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, these challenges affect their ability to address issues associated with deforestation and forest degradation in a timely manner. We discuss the influence COVID-19 can have on previous, present and future A/R initiatives, in particular, the ones led by International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs). We provide thirty-three recommendations for exploring underlying deforestation patterns and optimizing forest policy reforms to support forest cover expansion during the pandemic. The recommendations are classified into four groups - i) curbing deforestation and improving A/R, ii) protecting the environment and mitigating climate change, iii) enhancing socio-economic conditions, and iv) amending policy and law enforcement practices.
Keywords: Deforestation and forest degradation; Impacts of COVID-19 on forests; International non-governmental organizations (INGOs); Planting trees with drones; Real-time forest monitoring and management; Sustainable development goals (SDGs).
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