One of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) key operational priorities is the restoration of forests and landscapes, involving research on different dimensions and the integration of findings and emerging lessons into policy platforms and governance processes.
GLF Nairobi highlighted how essential restoring the world’s degraded and deforested landscapes is for local communities and the environments they live in. Such work requires approaches that integrate diverse objectives within the forest landscape, including livelihoods, economic development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. FTA participated widely in the GLF, with discussion forums, launchpads and a side event involving partner institutions the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), ICRAF, Bioversity International and Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).
The recent GLF conference, focusing on restoration in Africa, was attended by 800 people from the worlds of research, natural resource management and the private sector, and watched by thousands more online. FTA, for which restoration is a key priority, played major roles in the event, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 29-30, including as a funding partner, as well as hosting discussions on social inclusion, the Eastern African Forest Observatory, rights and access, sustainable woodfuel, and the Trees for Seeds initiative. Leading into the two days of discussions, CIFOR Director General Robert Nasi gave a keynote speech that queried the limited implementation of restoration, despite landscape degradation bringing huge costs to society and restoration bringing impressive returns. He called for a paradigm change, moving away from seeing restoration as a high-cost activity with no financial returns to landowners and with only environmental benefits, and toward one that provides increased incomes to landowners, creates jobs, and results in ecosystem goods and services for society as a whole.
Every year, Africa loses 2.8 million hectares of forest, which is an area roughly the size of Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, two-thirds of its land is degraded. However, as countries mobilize to restore 100 million hectares by 2030 in the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), local communities are emerging as a driving force behind the movement to recover the continent’s landscapes, who took center stage at GLF Nairobi.
Ahead of GLF Nairobi, ICRAF Director General Tony Simons spoke about the potential he sees for policy change to help make forest landscape restoration work for ecosystems, people and profit across the African continent. Simons also spoke during the Policy Plenary just before the finale of the GLF, which explored how to create enabling environments for transformational change in landscape management in the region.
As CATIE marks its 45th year, it is continuing to build on its reputation as a renowned research platform and internationally recognized education institution, as well as being a strategic partner of FTA. Remarking on the milestone, CATIE’s Director General Muhammad Ibrahim said the center’s vision over the coming years would focus on offering leadership in the generation of ‘agents of change’ and in search of solutions to challenges facing the region and the world that have been emphasized in the SDGs and by the UNFCCC.
In light of its standing as a regional research platform and higher education institution, CATIE holds an undeniably important position in Latin America and the Caribbean. The work carried out by CATIE researchers is focused on generating and disseminating knowledge, putting it into practice and encouraging uptake. From restoration to climate change adaptation and mitigation, conservation strategies and silvopastoral systems, the center’s work spans not only numerous countries but also several decades.
The Ethiopian government aims to restore 22 million hectares of degraded lands and forests by 2030, to increase tree cover and restore degraded forests, and also to significantly enhance the forestry sector’s contribution to agricultural production systems, water and energy; to improve food and nutritional security; and to create more opportunities for employment and household income. To this end, a new forest law was enacted in January this year that recognizes the rights of communities and acknowledges their role in managing natural forests and establishing plantations, without unduly compromising ecological services or biodiversity.
The need to protect remaining peatlands while restoring degraded lands resounded throughout the Tropical Peatlands Exchange. Though only 3 percent of the world’s land area is covered by peatlands, these areas hold high amounts of soil carbon, with a density that underscores their importance and the vested interest in their preservation. With Indonesia being home to some of the world’s largest peatland areas, the country can significantly impact both regional and global environments, markets and livelihoods through its peatland management decisions.
The Blue Carbon Summit on July 16-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia, showed the importance of increased learning and disseminating new knowledge about coastal ecosystems. During the event, one of the discussion forums – Financing blue carbon development – honed in on these at-risk ecosystems, looking in particular at the payment mechanisms needed to keep blue carbon intact. The public and private sectors must join forces to finance blue carbon, in order to reap social, environmental and economic returns from the ecosystems, speakers concurred.
Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: GLF; O. Girard/CIFOR; P. Shepherd/CIFOR; A. Mamo/ICRAF; CATIE; CATIE; O. Girard/CIFOR; O. Girard/CIFOR; A. Erlangga/CIFOR; I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR; M. Edliadi/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 funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.