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Forest, trees and agroforestry for biodiversity – the new frontier of managed ecosystems (Vol. 4, Issue 1)

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Forest, trees and agroforestry for biodiversity – the new frontier of managed ecosystems

This year 2020 has been called by many the Planet's super year. Among the many important milestones coming up, the countries of the world will meet in October in Kunming, China to craft the world's post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
 
Preservation of biodiversity means urgently, meaningfully and, effectively preserving and protecting pristine ecosystems. Pristine forests and their ecosystems are the result of hundreds of millions of years of natural capital investments by our own Planet, an invaluable richness. Destroying them means destroying 70% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, with potentially incommensurable consequences. This argument should suffice for world's leaders to make of the protection of pristine forests a worldwide top priority. Before it's too late.
 
But the role of forests and trees for biodiversity does not stop at the edge of pristine forests. Another key battlefield is the one of managed ecosystems, and first of agriculture, where the erosion of biodiversity has been staggering. With damages for agriculture itself, as the decline of pollinators worldwide sadly exemplifies, and with damages for nutrition, with an associated simplification of diets.
 
Much of the solution lies in reverting the worldwide trend towards agricultural and food systems simplification. And this is where the use of trees can crucially help. By promoting agroecological practices, increasing the use of trees on farm, and by promoting diverse tree products value chains.
 
Trees can bring a lot to landscapes and to farming systems, helping pursuing multiple objectives: improved food security, nutrition, livelihoods, climate change resilience and agrobiodiversity. FTA is producing evidence, approaches and tools to support stakeholders in comprehensive spatial planning and for farm managers to adopt agroecology. For instance, an extremely detailed map of West Kalimatan's vegetation is soon to be published, aiming at guiding policy makers' decisions in land planning.
 
The technical guideline Agroforestry systems for agroecological restoration – How to reconcile conservation with production: options for the Cerrado and the Caatinga originally released in 2016 in Portuguese was also recently translated in English and presented at COP25 in December. This document, rich in technical and scientific information will now be available to a much wider audience.
 
Trees and their products also provide a diversity of important nutrients and this needs to be more widely known by farmers, households and food value chain actors: this is why we developed a tree food Database and User Guide, with nutritional information for 132 tree foods (out of 99 species). Trees can form a key basis for more diverse and sustainable food systems, locally and globally, and our role is to show how.
 
You can read about these and many more of our recent outputs and stories in this newsletter. With our partners, we look forward to advancing the role of agroforestry, trees and forests in 2020 Planet's super-year and for farmers on the ground.
 
Vincent Gitz

FTA Director

Special feature

New FTA co-publication with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Framework methodology for assessing climate change vulnerability of forests and forest-dependent people

imagethumb.jpgChanging weather systems are causing worrying increases in heatwaves, droughts, fire, frosts and storms, threatening the capacity of forests to produce the vital goods and services on which we all depend. Forests and trees have crucial roles to play in reducing the vulnerability of communities everywhere to climate change and helping us to adapt our agriculture, landscapes and cities to changing conditions.
 
Immediate action is needed to increase forest resilience and reduce the threat posed to the livelihoods and well-being of forest-dependent households, including some of the world's most vulnerable people. But it can be difficult to determine the extent to which any given forest and its dependent communities are vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
 
This new methodology is a response to urgent calls for simple, effective approaches to conducting assessments.
 
"Adequate assessments of the vulnerability of forests and forest-dependent people are indispensable for ground-level action to adapt to climate change," said Hiroto Mitsugi, Assistant Director-General at the FAO Forestry Department. "I expect this new tool, which draws together the common elements among the many available methods and provides easy-to-follow guidance, will be of considerable assistance to forest stakeholders worldwide."
 
imagethumb.jpgThe FTA/FAO publication provides practitioners with step-by-step guidance for conducting vulnerability assessments using the most appropriate tools. The guide will be useful for anyone conducting vulnerability assessments involving trees or forests, including forest owners, managers and administrators in the private and public sectors and in community forestry organizations, and land-use planners.
 
The framework methodology provides an approach that can be used in most forest situations, offering flexibility that could help to speed up efforts to improve conditions for forests and people.
 
Download the report here.

News

 

Know the nutritional value of selected tree foods in sub-Saharan Africa

imagethumb.jpgA new database of 132 foods from 99 species in Sub-Saharan Africa shows nutritional values for assessing people’s diets and health. The Priority Food Tree and Crop Food Composition Database, developed by the FTA partner World Agroforestry (ICRAF), contains nutritional information of selected tree foods and crops, with a geographical focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
 
The database comprises 132 foods (out of 99 species) and 30 components. All component values are presented per 100 g edible portion on fresh weight basis. A user guide has also been developed to facilitate the use of the database. Read more.

Agroforestry Systems for Ecological Restoration

 

How to reconcile conservation and production? Options for Brazil’s Cerrado and Caatinga biomes can apply to other landscapes

imagethumb.jpgAn FTA-funded technical guideline aiming to guide the adoption of agroforestry systems (AFS) to restore and recover altered and degraded areas, using strategies that reconcile conservation with social benefits, originally published in Portuguese, was recently translated in English and presented at the COP25 in Madrid, by Andrew Miccolis. The guideline was developed through a participatory research process involving extensionists, farmers, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in the field of restoration and AFS.

Read more here and here.

Forest restoration and democracy: Making communities visible in Madagascar

 

Landscape restoration will not be fully effective unless it contributes to social as well as ecological benefits

imagethumb.jpgRecent discussions at the Global Landscapes Forum in Accra, Ghana, which revolved around tenure policy and forest landscape restoration in Madagascar, shed light on some of the issues impeding progress toward achieving positive social and ecological restoration outcomes globally. Read more.

Restoring degraded lands for bioenergy can offer economic and social returns as well as environmental benefits

 

Indonesia bets on biomass to power local economies

imagethumb.jpgIndonesia is committed to supplying energy to all of its people, but with 260 million citizens scattered across 17,500 islands, this is no small ambition.
 
Restoring degraded lands with biomass to fuel bioenergy plants could be part of the answer to both environmental and livelihood concerns, noted participants to the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) held in Luxembourg on 30 November 2019. Read about the case studies discussed.

Forest science for the future: Back to the drawing board?

 

Scientists discuss best way forward at IUFRO XXV congress

imagethumb.jpgHow can forest research and science, the foundations of the science of natural resource management, be renewed amid unprecedented global challenges?

At the 25th congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), in Curitiba, Brazil, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) hosted an official side event. It involved six top scientists from our partner organizations, in addition to congress delegates who discussed priorities for future forestry research. Find out what they said.

Report from the Digital Summit – “Barriers to inclusive finance in a context of sustainable landscapes”

imagethumb.jpgThe FTA/CIFOR/Tropenbos International eDialogue “Scaling up innovative finance for sustainable landscapes” concluded on 19/12/2019 with a Digital Summit on “Barriers to inclusive finance in a context of sustainable landscapes” in which three of the outstanding eDialogue participants explained their particular experiences in facing barriers to sustainable landscapes finance.

Through their debate, possibilities for such experiences to be applied in other parts of the tropics or scaled up were analyzed, while a lively online audience posed very relevant questions. Read a report of the discussions or replay the whole event.

Brussels Development Briefing 59: How local application of agroecological principles can transform food systems

 

Leading agricultural scientist calls for transformation of the world’s food systems to align with agroecological principles

imagethumb.jpgFergus Sinclair, FTA Flagship Leader 2 and Head of Systems Science at World Agroforestry (ICRAF) through collaboration with Bangor University, UK, explained at the 59th Brussels Development Briefing, 15 January 2020, how agroecological principles applied on farms can create sustainable food-production systems.
 
Summary of the event or full streaming of the debate also available at this link.

Bamboo, the forgotten solution at COP25

 

Our partner INBAR used the UN’s annual climate conference to raise awareness of natural tools for climate change mitigation

imagethumb.jpgWidespread, versatile and with the ability to store large amounts of carbon, bamboo could be a critical resource in helping a number of developing countries meet their climate change commitments. At the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) annual Conference of the Parties (COP), hosted by Chile in Madrid, Spain, INBAR promoted this grass plant in a number of key events.

Read more here and here for further reading on bamboo as substitute for plastic.

The politics of participation: Negotiating relationships through community forestry in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala

 

Mediating conflict helps community forestry schemes succeed

imagethumb.jpgEmpowering people to manage the forests near their homes is one tool of sustainable development. Widely known as “community forestry,” the notion originated in the 1970s with the dream of fair, equitable, and sustainable forest use.

But achieving those aims isn’t easy. Schemes have to go beyond preserving trees or boosting the local economy, experts say, to alleviate poverty by serving a diverse array of local people, rather than just one gender or class. And the key to ensuring and widening diversity, according to a recent FTA study, may actually be mediating between stakeholders and resolving conflicts to enable many different groups to participate. Featured on PNAS News.


Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR; World Agroforestry; World Agroforestry; Steven Lawry/CIFOR; Pilar Valbuena/GLF; Nanang Sujana/CIFOR; CGIAR Forests, Trees and Agroforestry; World Agroforestry; INBAR; Brester Irina/Shutterstock.

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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.

 
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