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Bezos fund plans to restore 250m acres of African land

STORY: One of the world's richest men, Jeff Bezos, is seeking to reverse deforestation and land degradation on around 250 million acres of land in Africa by 2030.

That's according to Andrew Steer, chief executive of the Amazon founder's Bezos Earth Fund, speaking during the Reuters Impact conference on Tuesday (October 4).

"Africa is a place where 60 percent of the soils have been degraded, so by restoration, what we mean is a very simple idea of taking the carbon up there in the atmosphere where its causing a lot of trouble, it's bringing it down to earth through the magic of photosynthesis into trees and bushes and crops and soils, where it brings better incomes for farmers, better food security, more resilient soils, richer soils, healthier people etc...I'm making it sound really great, and that's cause it is great. And the good thing is that there is now something called Africa 100, 100 million hectares of land in Africa to be brought back."

The initiative is led by African Union countries.

The Bezos Earth Fund has pledged 30% of its $10 billion fund towards nature conservation, restoration, and food systems transformation.

The actual grants issued so far, a spokesperson said, total a little over $1.5 billion.

Africa has contributed very little in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But the continent's countries are among the most vulnerable to its effects - as evidenced by recent floods and storms, as well as the Horn of Africa's worst drought in four decades.

Developing countries have been increasingly demanding that wealthier, carbon-emitting nations pay reparations for climate-induced disasters.

"Rich countries are going to have to play a bigger role on creating resilience on helping poor countries and poor citizens to adapt."

Steer said that the Bezos Earth Fund is seeking to build a coalition of African and European countries around this year's U.N. climate summit - taking place in Egypt in November - to add heft to land restoration efforts.