In climate change and land restoration, and many other domains related to sustainable development, political pledges are important. But they are only the first step. What matters is action and impact, and how to go beyond these commitments? For this, farmers, foresters, practitioners, value-chain actors and policy-makers need practical solutions. This is what has guided the work of FTA throughout 2018: to build and promote a range of evidence-based, effective options for stakeholders.
In our November highlights, FTA supported the launch of the International Tropical Peatlands Center in Indonesia and organized with CATIE stock-take workshops on the “sentinel landscapes” initiative in Nicaragua-Honduras.
The recent GLF in Bonn assembled 1,000 participants on site and thousands more online, to go beyond pledges and commitments and spur collective action on securing a more sustainable future. Participants reiterated that business-as-usual will not get landscapes on the track of sustainability, nor do it broadly and quickly enough to meet critical biodiversity, climate and development goals. Addressing this, delegates from governments, academia, NGOs, the private sector and civil society presented practical strategies and solutions over the two-day event.
With countries making significant pledges under the Bonn Challenge to restore degraded land, achieving these objectives at scale requires diverse, adapted and high-quality native tree seeds and planting material – however, as shown by FTA research, the quality and quantity of tree germplasm is not always adequately addressed in restoration projects. Research is now generating solutions to help the global community move from pledges to impact when it comes to tree seeds and seedlings, with a discussion at GLF Bonn bringing these issues to the fore.
Bamboo provides a durable building material and strong fiber for paper and textiles. Bamboo grows back quickly after being harvested – making it a highly sustainable product to work with. A side event at GLF Bonn addressed how bamboo fits into conversations about land management, land restoration, erosion control and nature-based solutions for development challenges. Strong participation of private sector actors from China showed how restoration and development of value chains go hand in hand with sustainable development.
Forested landscapes play a key role in all 1.5 degree pathways modelled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent report and also provide many functions critical to adaptation. Failing to address gender equality in forest- and tree-based climate initiatives can have negative implications for gender equity, while also potentially undermining the efficiency and sustainability of climate efforts, according to the COP24 climate talks held recently in Katowice, Poland.
Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like the one held recently in Ghana making an important contribution. The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive discussions about different perceptions on gender, processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.
A sentinel landscape is a geographic area or set of areas bound by a common issue, in which a broad range of biophysical, social, economic and political data are monitored, collected with consistent methods and interpreted over the long term. As part of the FTA Sentinel Landscapes initiative, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) has coordinated the Nicaragua-Honduras Sentinel Landscape initiative since 2012, and recently held four workshops for participants from government, academic, productive sectors and NGOs, to present results and advances.
Peatlands, natural areas of accumulated decayed plant material known as peat, have huge value as carbon sinks, making them key in limiting global warming. Given the importance of peatlands in achieving climate mitigation objectives, preserving them intact and restoring degraded areas is increasingly being recognized as an international issue. The new International Tropical Peatland Center (ITPC) is aiming to become a one-stop shop for countries that encompass tropical peatlands, providing research and knowledge to enable informed decisions on their sustainable management.
Biofuel plantations could be central to meeting landscape restoration targets in Indonesia, while also helping the country to meet growing energy demand. Scientists are currently conducting research through a collaborative research project to identify the most promising and productive bioenergy crops suited to degraded and underutilized lands. The research is aiming to demonstrate methods of bioenergy production that do not compete with food production and environmental conservation, but contribute to them.
It is widely agreed that effective governance is key to building and securing sustainability in forested areas, but the jury is still out over what that actually looks like. A new special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (COSUST) contains 19 reviews that aim to assess the degree of effectiveness of the environmental governance strategy that they focus on, including REDD+, protected areas, community forests, concessions, tree plantation, forests under certification, private acquisition of land for conservation, and sustainable intensification.
Much of the world’s soybean crop is produced in the Amazon and Cerrado ecosystems of Brazil, which each lose between 5 to 10,000 square kilometers of forest each year. Today, 2 to 4 percent of global soy production is certified as responsible, representing a niche market of concerned consumers who are willing to pay more for products guaranteed to be emissions and deforestation-free. Recent research compared seven soy certification schemes in Brazil to assess whether such guarantees actually reduce deforestation.
Due to its remote location and sparse population, Papua, Indonesia, harbors one of the Pacific’s last remaining expanses of pristine tropical forest. However, recent spikes in deforestation rates, accompanied by the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations, are signs that rapid change is on the horizon. Scientists hope the new Papua Atlas, a platform that is due to be launched mid-2019, will show where forest is being cleared on the island and who is responsible for the deforestation.
Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: P. Valbuena/GLF; M. Edliadi/CIFOR; International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR); M. Edliadi/CIFOR; J. Baxter/ICRAF; CATIE; U. Ifansasti/CIFOR; S. Deni Sasmito/CIFOR; C. Croft-Cusworth/CIFOR; Y. Gutierrez/CIFOR; N. Palmer/CIAT; A. Andrianto/CIFOR.
The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI.
FTA thanks all donors who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.