Of the varied scientific and development work carried out in 2017, much was covered in blog articles and program documents made available on FTA’s website. Gender, agroforestry and “rainfall recycling” were strong points of interest; related themes are covered in the recent blogs and publications below, along with work on landscapes, orphan crops and restoration.
Another achievement of 2017, fundamental to FTA’s research in the years to come, was the positive evaluation of the program’s livelihood systems theme from the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC), which stated that the proposed research was of very high quality with “a clear strategy for impact”, as outlined in this article. The ISPC praised the “research-in-development” approach of the flagship, which “if implemented well, can set an example for other CGIAR Research Programs.”
These achievements set the scene for a productive year ahead, the second of Phase 2, with a promise of strengthened and impactful research. Let’s make it happen!
During the first year of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) Phase 2, which runs from 2017 to 2022, the program strengthened its global presence by participating in international events, continuing to produce extensive research publications, and making new efforts to disseminate its work. Find out which blog articles, research publications, presentations and program documents were most-read on the FTA website throughout last year.
FTA’s livelihood systems research theme, known as Flagship 2, has received the highest possible rating of “strong” from the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC), in an important outcome for the collective work of all FTA scientists involved in reformulating the program’s Phase 2 Proposal. The flagship develops and promotes innovations in a range of tree-based systems in terms of management, markets and policies, to reduce poverty, increase food and nutrition security, protect the environment, enhance natural capital and strengthen people’s capacity to adapt to climate change.
A simple farming technique is proving effective in Kenya, where severe land degradation coupled with drastic changes in climate has meant that many people frequently face food shortages. Dramatic differences in yields have been achieved through simple planting basins, a water-conservation technology. Also known as zai pits by the Western African farmers who innovated them, the planting basins are now being modified and tested, not just across villages, but in several countries across the continent.
Landscapes Talks, which piqued the interest of audiences at the recent GLF in Bonn, Germany, aim to be a “space for leading academics and scientists to provide short talks on current landscape activities”. FTA scientists appeared multiple times during the series of engaging talks, making for powerful statements and diverse insights into the program’s research, covering topics such as integrated landscape approaches, peatlands, restoration opportunities and new perspectives on landscapes and water.
As communities move to restore mountainous forest landscapes in Bhutan, boosting essential ecosystem services and protecting from disaster risk, more research is needed to determine the effects on national development, as defined by the country’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. A new paper looks at the connections between forests and GNH, which serves as a yardstick for legislature and ensures a balance between the four pillars of environmental conservation, cultural preservation, equitable socioeconomic development and good governance.
Tropenbos International (TBI), FTA and partners held a well-attended panel discussion titled “Inclusive Finance and Business Models – Actions for Upscaling” at the recent GLF, to explore the idea that companies are increasingly being seen as key partners in scaling-up efforts to achieve sustainable landscapes. Moving away from a “do no harm” mindset, the discussion allowed panelists to share ideas about what a “do-good” approach means in practice, and how it can be scaled up.
At present, orphan crops – neglected and underutilized crops – are not extensively researched, despite their potential for realizing economic and dietary benefits for the people who cultivate and consume them, as well as bringing environmental gains to the landscapes where they are grown. Two projects hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi are working to improve these crops and promote their utilization.
A study included in a special issue of International Forestry Review on forest landscape restoration (FLR), which was launched on the sidelines of the GLF, examined how the devolution of access and management rights to local communities provided incentives for them to invest in restoration activities. Turning to successful FLR programs in China, Nepal and Ethiopia to identify lessons that could be applied elsewhere, the research focused on people managing forests in mountainous and hilly areas.
A recent dialogue on forest landscape restoration (FLR) and gender equality in Nairobi, the second in a series of events on the topic hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), together with FTA and partners, delved into experiences from East Africa with an aim to create integrated solutions. Participants looked at examples from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, along with the benefits of grounding gender equality in FLR — and the risks of not doing so.
The Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO) was recently formalized by a collaboration agreement signed by 18 institutions, including FTA’s partner institution Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). The unique network will now be able to continue monitoring the world’s logged tropical forests and drafting recommendations for sustainable silviculture – a crucial challenge in light of biodiversity erosion and climate change. The network is expected to enjoy greater visibility and to develop more projects to ensure its sustainability.
Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: N. Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR; A. Mamo/ICRAF; A. Mamo/ICRAF; P. Valbuena/GLF; GLF video; C. Shekhar Karki/CIFOR; P. Valbuena/GLF; ICRAF; M. Edliadi/CIFOR; ICRAF; TmFO.
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.
We would like to thank all donors who support this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.