The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry is now entering its fifth year, and its significant achievements are highlighted in our latest annual report. At the same time, the CGIAR has approved a new and ambitious Strategy and Results Framework and launched a call for the second generation of CGIAR research programs. Set to start in 2017, these programs are being developed in two stages: approved pre-proposals by the end of September, with full proposals due by mid-2016. As for the original FTA proposal in 2011, the next 12 months will be dedicated to preparing the full program in consultation with our partners. If you are reading this newsletter, chances are that you will be contacted and consulted – so watch this space! Take a look at what researchers from our first Flagship Livelihood systems think about the future of their project. In this newsletter you can also read about agroforestry on degraded land in Brazil, Bioversity International’s Annual Report and how building fences can be a good thing for farmers in West Africa.
In July, some 25 scientists came together in Bogor for a ‘writeshop’ to discuss the next phase under the CGIAR Research Program for Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. They produced several pre-proposals on how to tweak the existing program, and these formed the basis of the complete pre-proposal, which has just been completed. The writeshop also gave researchers under Flagship 1 Livelihood systems the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas for the future.
Livelihood Systems (Flagship Project 1) is the biggest research stream in FTA, accounting for 30% of the total program budget. We asked Flagship 1 Coordinator Fergus Sinclair, to take stock of past achievements and give us an outlook into the next research phase.
2014 was marked by significant achievements, captured in the just-published FTA Annual Report. An independent evaluation recognized the relevance of FTA research, while suggesting some adjustments that were then taken into account for the extension proposal. Also in 2014, an interactive FTA project database and monitoring tools were introduced, and a new Theory of Change reflects the focus on real-world problems. The report states that FTA produced 700 publications and launched innovative tools such as the interactive open-access database tropiTree on more than 5000 genetic markers/species for 24 tree species that are important to smallholders.
A study from Papua, Indonesia, is among the first to show how local communities are protecting extensive areas of land – in contrast to assumptions that such communities overuse or damage natural resources. The paper’s findings feed into a growing body of evidence that natural resource management by local communities can be more effective and cost-efficient for large-scale conservation than government-sanctioned protected areas. The authors therefore call for greater recognition of indigenous conservation practices.
Agroforestry can play a strategic role in restoring protected areas in Brazil, experts and practitioners say. Since 2012, smallholders have been allowed to use agroforestry systems in which exotic species comprise up to 50% of the restoration area, to comply with mandatory restoration of riparian zones, steep hillsides, ridges and springs. However, legal uncertainties still prevent farmers from committing fully to the practice.
In Peru, CIFOR has been discussing with policy makers how the country’s new Law no. 29736 addresses – or does not address – sustainable family forestry systems. Forest officers in Ucayali have asked CIFOR’s help to assess the credibility of new applications to register timber under the new plantation law. But it turns out that all actors are struggling to operate in uncertain and ever-changing market and environmental conditions.
In the tropical forests surrounding Sirsi, in India’s Western Ghats, Bioversity International is supporting the Matrabhoomi Women’s Group, an association of collectors and processors of non-timber forest products. The group’s charismatic and dedicated leader, Nagaweni Hegde, celebrates the achievements and experiences of the first year.
The dryland forests and trees in the semi-arid Sahel region have always acted as an important safety net for local people. But now these resources are under stress – both from climate change and from population growth. One small possible solution comes from enclosures, areas where the ecosystem can be protected by fencing.
Farmers working with scientists in three provinces in Northwest Viet Nam witnessed how a fodder-grass barrier helped to reduce soil erosion. This convinced them of the benefits of growing perennial crops, such as fruit trees. The farmers' participation in the research increased their ownership of the results and gave them incentive to change their agricultural practices for long-term benefits, the researchers said.
‘Swidden agriculture’ or shifting cultivation is considered by some as one of the earliest examples of traditional ‘agroforestry’. It has been practiced in the uplands of Southeast Asia for centuries and is estimated to support up to 500 million people – most living in poverty. A recently published systematic review protocol will help to clarify possible livelihoods and ecosystem services from swidden agriculture.
Haiti has considerable potential to reduce its dependence on imported food, which accounts for more than 50% of current supplies. But efforts to realize this potential have been hindered by land degradation, poor quality seed, and farmers' limited access to financial services. To reduce those constraints, CIAT is collaborating with the government to lay the groundwork for a major 5-year effort.
The FTA Gender newsletter has just come out! It highlights the gender implications of agroforestry options in northwest Vietnam (ICRAF), the gender responsiveness of value chain tools to improve smallholder livelihoods (Bioversity International), and a Partnership to expand LINK methodology to non-timber food product value chains in Nicaragua and Honduras (CIAT).