By upscaling nature’s own solutions, Mozambique's rural population is strengthened

PFGS Header

Field training on management of natural regeneration with NIRAS/PFGS Extension Agents, and Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Restoration Specialist as well as beneficiary in Alto Molocue.

Hanna Mykkänen

Hanna Mykkänen

Project Manager

NIRAS’s project manager of the Planted Forest Grant Scheme shares her thoughts on and experiences with nature-based solutions, which she views as a crucial element in securing a sustainable future.

June 25, 2021

2021 marks the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Combined with protection, sustainable management and strategies to halt deforestation, forest landscape restoration (FLR) is critical tackling climate change, reducing biodiversity loss and improving human wellbeing.

The forests of Mozambique comprise 34 million hectares (Ha), 40% of the national territory. They possess tremendous value and unrealised potential but are rapidly being depleted. In the dry tropical miombo forests, a high degree of deforestation and forest degradation is taking place due to the forests’ fragility and high demand for related goods and services among the rural population for whom they are the main source of livelihood. Rural poverty and population pressure means that alternative sources of income are limited, leading to unsustainable forest use. Conversion to small-scale agriculture is the main direct driver of deforestation, accounting for 65% of forest loss. From 2001 to 2019, Mozambique lost 3.29 million Ha of tree cover, equivalent to a 11% decrease in tree coverage since 2000.

40 %

of the national territory is comprised of forests.

More than 3 million hectares

of tree cover lost in Mozambique from 2001 to 2019

Multi-purpose plantations, agroforestry and forest and ecosystem restoration generate income for rural communities

To counter the depletion of forests, the Planted Forest Grant Scheme (PFGS) Project focuses on the establishment of multi-purpose forest and plantations, including commercial “new generation plantations”, forest and ecosystem restoration through assisted natural regeneration, rehabilitation of natural springs, and agroforestry in ten districts of the Zambézia province. The project is part of a larger programme called the Mozambique Forest Investment Project (MozFIP). The World Bank and the National Sustainable Development Fund (FNDS) funds the PFGS, which builds on a landscape approach and includes development of nature-based solutions (NbS). NbS support not only ecological restoration but also enhanced local income generation activities of rural people – both women and men – through local jobs creation. PFGS is unique because it works with investors ranging from large landholders, private sector small and medium enterprises (SMEs), smallholder associations/other legally organised groups, women’s groups, youth plantation investors, and small emerging commercial farmers.

“We need to  constantly learn from nature. Nature offers multiple solutions to the many problems facing humanity today, and I’m optimistic that there is still time to apply them as governments, private sector and civil society are working jointly for climate action today.”

Hanna Mykkänen, NIRAS Senior Consultant in Bioeconomy and Sustainability
Team Leader, Mr. Juma Juma (left) together with the FNDS Focal Point and MozFIP Natural Resource Adviser in Zambézia, Mr. Faruk Tavares (right)

NIRAS’s support for the project is just one example of the vast work we are doing in scaling the solutions that nature provides to build resilience particularly against climate change. NIRAS is especially focused on adopting PFGS to the local context by  involving smallholders as well as women and youth in the project.


1858 hectares

of forest plantations has been established in 1,5 years

618 hectares

of degraded land has been restored

2014 jobs

have been generated of which 30 % are occupied by women

On a 2020 field mission to the PFGS project, Hanna (right) met the plantation forest owner and investor, Ms. Maria Sotomane (left), Indústria Sotomane

The application of NbS is accelerated through the building of partnerships between public, private and community actors while promoting and piloting a performance-based forest incentive scheme that is innovative within Mozambique’s local context. NIRAS’s support particularly emphasises community buy-in, as participation is vital to the success of NbS, which includes a focus on establishing climate-smart, sustainable and alternative livelihoods. If results – including those of the new type of forest incentive scheme – are positive, PFGS will be scaled-up nationwide in Mozambique. So far, the outcome looks promising. 

Nature-based solutions as a key to secure our future

Investing in NbS or ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is one of the best ways to secure our future and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as we must act now if we want life and living conditions to be sustainable for future generations.

Lessons learned from the project by NIRAS regarding forest ecosystem restoration show that management of natural regeneration is a relatively new activity, therefore training is needed for all involved. Beneficiary voluntary participation must be strengthened in order to ensure ownership. Fire protection is also a major concern and therefore, PFGS aims to pre-finance forest management fire protection activities such as individual tree protection, fire breaks, and early cool burning. Native forests are being rapidly replaced by subsistence farming fields. It is important to consider restoring and/or managing larger native forest areas within beneficiaries with DUAT and create examples of native forests that can produce sustainable measurable benefits for all.  Results of restoration works - both ecological, economic, social and environmental - take a long time to realise and have an impact and therefore, the minimum term of a restoration programme should be at least 5 years. This creates some challenges as well as a need for global investors with aim to ensure that results are sustained well.

For additional information on the PFGS Project please contact or follow the Facebook page “Esquema de Fomento Florestal-MozFIP”.

Hanna Mykkänen is the Project Manager for the PFGS Project. 

Hanna has been working 17 years with NIRAS across various sectors applying ecosystem-based approaches to tackle different societal challenges. She is passionate about finding solutions to sustainable development challenges.  The most inspiring aspect of her time with NIRAS has been to understand the “big picture” of development work and how to manage land, water, and living resources in a holistic way that promotes conservation, restoration, and sustainable livelihoods.

Hanna’s work is ranging across the areas of environment, forest, biodiversity, agriculture, renewable energy, climate, and private sector development. She has worked in development of sustainable forest management and utilisation in several regions and countries to design of large multi-sector level programmes, and the design and management of innovative funds that  catalyse private finance to  climate mitigation and adaptation.

Get in touch

Hanna Mykkänen

Hanna Mykkänen

Project Manager

Helsinki, Finland

+358 9 83624233