Welcome to this May-June 2015 edition of the FTA newsletter, with a focus on Global governance, trade and investment (our “Flagship 5”). The team of 20 scientists spread across three of our six major partner centers addresses the ways in which globalized trade and investment are driving land-use change and forest transitions over large landscapes affecting both people and the environment.
This quarter has been marked by the publication of our updated FTA brochure that gives an overview of our work and our achievements so far. Again, we invited a group of scientists to discuss the challenges of their work. Read on for more posts about the dynamics of oil palm plantations, certification of timber, illegal logging and more.
A new brochure gives an overview of current FTA activities and outcomes across the five flagship projects and cross-cutting themes. Infographics and maps illustrate ongoing research and inter-agency collaboration. The 16-pager is available in print and on the FTA website in English, with French and Spanish coming soon. In a strengthened communications effort, the website has been updated and revived with more original content, regular news updates, a Twitter feed by FTA Director Robert Nasi, and a cross-center events calendar.
For our regular FTA discussion, five researchers from CIFOR and ICRAF debated challenges of their work and research priorities, related to the impacts of global markets on shaping land-use. Key themes were public-private collaboration, finding models of successful development, and the limitations of market-based schemes to achieve sustainability goals. Read the summary blog and see the full transcript here.
Pablo Pacheco, CIFOR Principal Scientist and FTA Flagship 5 coordinator reflects on recent trends and perspectives of global commodity markets and the challenges of sustainability in times of climate change. He argues for new ‘hybrid’ governance approaches that go even beyond traditional public-private models.
Most governments of oil palm growing countries have ambitious plans to increase production over the next decades, mainly through expanding plantations, instead of intensifying production. A recent literature review commissioned for Flagship 5 found that the future lies in increasing yields rather than expanding plantations, which cannot be achieved without including smallholders in the equation.
Al Jazeera took an in-depth look at the environmental consequences of palm oil plantations in equatorial Africa. CIFOR’s Patrice Levang was interviewed about the controversial investment US-based Herakles Farms made in Cameroon.
A ‘forest transition’, i.e. the change from net deforestation to net reforestation, is the theme of a study that involved FTA researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). The results illustrate the recent emergence of private tree planting activities, driven mainly by expectations of high economic returns from trees, reduced availability of farm labour, and more secure forest tenure.
Certification of timber products may not be the right incentive to protect the Amazon forest in Brazil. A recent study shows that certification and other incentives for legal timber operations work better when they involve value chains that are well developed and have good links to the markets.
CIFOR experts are hopeful that the New York Declaration on Forests will help curb deforestation because of the involvement of the private sector. The companies representing up to 70% of the global supply chain of trade of oil palm are pledging zero deforestation over the next 15 years.
Through in-depth research in several African countries, CIFOR and CIRAD have discovered that domestic timber markets exist off the record, even though they handle millions of cubic meters of wood. Scientists argue for a transparent dialogue on the role of the artisanal logging sector in those countries’ development.
New research results caution against a too rapid implementation of the new EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan. Research shows that the gap between current legal requirements and the capabilities of smallholders and artisanal operators remains too wide.
Land tenure rights have been widely considered as key to improving environmental governance. The Brazilian state of Pará and Lowland Bolivia have seen very different approaches to land regularization. CIFOR researchers looked at both models and found that tenure security alone does not necessarily result in better outcomes.