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  • Researchers to gather at World Congress on Agroforestry

Researchers to gather at World Congress on Agroforestry

A man works on a cocoa farm in Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR
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The 4th World Congress on Agroforestry (Agroforestry 2019) aims to strengthen the links between science, society and public policies. Under the high patronage of Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, the Congress is to be held at the Le Corum conference center in Montpellier on 20–22 May 2019. The Congress is a part of a Week of Agroforestry running from 19–23 May.

Open to researchers, students, farmers, NGOs, and political and economic decisionmakers, the Congress is expecting some 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries. FTA is a platinum partner for the event. It is being held in Europe for the first time, by the Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), in partnership with World Agroforestry, Agropolis International and Montpellier University of Excellence. It will be preceded on 19 May by a day of events for the general public, organized by the Fondation de France and the French Association of Agroforestry.

“We wanted, through this general public day ahead of the congress, to make agroforestry better known to civil society”, explained Emmanuel Torquebiau, Agroforestry Project Manager at CIRAD and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry.

Learn more: 4th World Congress on Agroforestry

Agroforestry, the future of agriculture?

The organizers aim to anchor the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry to the societal debate on agriculture. “It is time for technical solutions to be discussed within civil society and to become part of public policy”, commented Christian Dupraz, INRA Research Director and Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Congress.

By combining science and dialogue with society, the Congress will be an opportunity to assess the contribution of agroforestry to the agro-ecological transition of agriculture at the global level.

A farmer displays their coffee beans in Brazil. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

Agroforestry, which involves combining trees with crops and pastures, is now recognized to protect soils, address climate change issues and contribute to global food security. This practice could therefore be the future of agriculture. The fields of application are very diverse: hedges and alignment of trees or shrubs in and around plots, multilayer agriculture, timber or fruit production in cropland, fodder trees, trees for honey, shade trees for perennial crops (coffee, cocoa, grapevines) or livestock, multilayer agroforests and agroforestry gardens.

An International Union of Agroforestry will be created at the Congress, to federate agroforestry innovations on a global scale. On Thursday, 23 May, participants will be able to visit the main European experimental agroforestry site at Domaine de Restinclières in Prades-le-Lez (11 km north of Montpellier) where cereals (durum wheat and barley rotated with protein peas) are grown with many tree species, particularly walnut trees. In more stony soils, vines are grown with pines and cormiers. This 50-ha experimental farm, which belongs to Hérault County Council, is scientifically managed by INRA Occitanie-Montpellier.

Originally published by CIRAD.

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  • Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

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A display of giant pandas greets attendees at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

A new declaration is paving the way for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forest conservation. 

Bamboo and rattan are important – but critically overlooked – non-timber forest products. These plants have huge potential to restore degraded land, build earthquake-resilient housing, reduce deforestation, and provide jobs for millions of people in rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Despite this, bamboo and rattan are often regarded as ‘poor man’s timber’, and households, governments and businesses have yet to realize their full potential.

This image problem may be about to change. On 25-27 June, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) cohosted the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) in Beijing, China. At the Congress, 1,200 participants from almost 70 countries took part in discussions about the uses of bamboo and rattan in agroforestry, their ecosystem services, and their contribution to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inspiring innovation

Speakers included Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, and Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Both highlighted problems of forest governance, and the role that innovative bamboo and rattan uses can play in this regard. Indeed, innovation was a key theme of the event. Throughout the three-day Congress, entrepreneurs exhibited innovative products: from wind turbines and bicycles to heavy-duty drainage pipes and flat-pack housing made with bamboo. Fast-growing and quick to mature, with the properties of hardwood, bamboo can provide an important low-carbon replacement for cement, plastics, steel and timber.

An equally important point, raised in many discussions, was NTFPs’ potential to create incomes for the rural poor. Throughout BARC, participants heard from speakers who had created businesses with bamboo: from Bernice Dapaah, who has founded an internationally recognized bamboo bicycle company in Ghana, to entrepreneurs from countries in Southeast Asia, where many communities rely on rattan for up to 50% of their cash income. According to INBAR Director General Hans Friederich, the bamboo and rattan sector employs almost 10 million people in China alone, proving that there are many possibilities for these plants to contribute to FTA’s core research themes.

Read also: Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

A bamboo bicycle is pictured on the first day of the Congress. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

Storing carbon 

The potential for bamboo to complement forests’ role as carbon sinks was much discussed. A new report, launched at BARC, shows how certain species of bamboos’ fast rate of carbon storage makes them a very competitive tool for carbon sequestration. In an important announcement in plenary, Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director-General of NFGA, suggested that bamboo could become part of offset projects in China’s new emissions trading scheme – a statement with huge potential for bamboo management.

And in a striking statement of support for bamboo’s use as a carbon sink, Dr. Li Nuyun, Executive Vice-President of the China Green Carbon Fund, stated that her organization would help establish a bamboo plantation in Yunnan province, China. Over time, the plantation will aim to sequester the estimated 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted over the course of the Congress – making BARC a ‘zero-carbon’ event.

Protecting biodiversity

Biodiversity management was the theme of a number of sessions. In a session on the Giant Panda, speakers from Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society in China, and the World Wildlife Fund committed their support toward a potential planning workshop in early 2019. The workshop would discuss how to take a holistic approach to biodiversity protection, which integrates bamboo management, panda protection and natural heritage conservation.

Read also: Study examines bamboo value chains to support industry growth

Offering ‘win-wins’

As many of the discussions showed, bamboo and rattan are often used because they offer more than one solution. Bamboo charcoal is such a case. As a clean-burning, locally growing source of energy, bamboo charcoal can significantly reduce stress on slower-growing forest resources. However, it can also form an important revenue source for individuals, particularly women.

Dancille Mukakamari, the Rwanda National Coordinator for the Africa Women’s Network for Sustainable Development, described how “charcoal is crucial for women in Africa”. And Gloria Adu, a successful Ghana-based entrepreneur who has been making bamboo charcoal for several decades, emphasized its huge potential for deforestation prevention, mentioning that almost three-quarters of Ghanaian forest loss came through charcoal production.

The road from BARC

Flags represent the countries in attendance at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

If bamboo and rattan are so important, then why are they not more widely used? A lack of awareness is one factor. According to many of the private sector representatives at BARC, the absence of clear customs codes for bamboo and rattan, or specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of products, has prevented their uptake.

Ignorance is only part of the problem, however. Although people are increasingly aware about bamboo and rattan’s properties, more needs to be done to share technologies and innovative uses. Speaking in plenary, entrepreneur and author of The Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli, said it best: “The science is already there. We don’t have to convince people about bamboo, we have to inspire them – and bamboo is an inspiring product.”

The Congress made an important step forward in this need to ‘inspire’ change. On the first day, INBAR and the International Fund for Agriculture announced the launch of a new project, which plans to share Chinese bamboo industry expertise and technologies with four countries in Africa. The initiative aims to benefit 30,000 rural smallholder farmers and community members across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, who will be taught about how to plant, manage and create value-added products using bamboo.

BARC also saw an outpouring of political support for bamboo and rattan. A number of heads of state and development organization leaders provided video messages in support of bamboo and rattan. And in a plenary session, John Hardy, the TED talk speaker and founder of the Bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia, offered to offset his lifetime carbon emissions using bamboo, in a demonstration of the plant’s carbon storage potential.

Read also: Mapping bamboo forest resources in East Africa

The Beijing Declaration

With three plenary events, 75 side sessions and a lot of inspiration, BARC showed that there is clearly growing interest in bamboo and rattan for forest management. Announced on the third and final day of the Congress, the Beijing Declaration aimed to put all these commitments into action. Written on behalf of “ministers, senior officials, and participants”, the Declaration lays out bamboo and rattan’s contributions as “a critical part of forests and ecosystems”, and calls upon governments to support the plants’ development in forestry and related initiatives.

According to INBAR’s Friederich, “The Beijing Declaration stands to make a real difference in the way bamboo and rattan are included in forest practices. Far from being poor man’s timber, this Congress has shown that bamboo and rattan are truly green gold. Now we need to focus on the road from BARC – how to make these plants a vital part of the way we manage forests, and the environment.”

Given their relevance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, their role in supporting sustainable forest conservation and their importance to smallholder livelihoods, bamboo and rattan are key NFTPs for the realization of FTA’s core aims. As the Congress showed, the key challenge now is to integrate these plants into forest management, and promote their central role in sustainable development.

By Charlotte King, INBAR international communications specialist. 

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  • Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A display of giant pandas greets attendees at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

A new declaration is paving the way for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forest conservation. 

Bamboo and rattan are important – but critically overlooked – non-timber forest products. These plants have huge potential to restore degraded land, build earthquake-resilient housing, reduce deforestation, and provide jobs for millions of people in rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Despite this, bamboo and rattan are often regarded as ‘poor man’s timber’, and households, governments and businesses have yet to realize their full potential.

This image problem may be about to change. On 25-27 June, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) cohosted the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) in Beijing, China. At the Congress, 1,200 participants from almost 70 countries took part in discussions about the uses of bamboo and rattan in agroforestry, their ecosystem services, and their contribution to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inspiring innovation

Speakers included Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, and Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Both highlighted problems of forest governance, and the role that innovative bamboo and rattan uses can play in this regard. Indeed, innovation was a key theme of the event. Throughout the three-day Congress, entrepreneurs exhibited innovative products: from wind turbines and bicycles to heavy-duty drainage pipes and flat-pack housing made with bamboo. Fast-growing and quick to mature, with the properties of hardwood, bamboo can provide an important low-carbon replacement for cement, plastics, steel and timber.

An equally important point, raised in many discussions, was NTFPs’ potential to create incomes for the rural poor. Throughout BARC, participants heard from speakers who had created businesses with bamboo: from Bernice Dapaah, who has founded an internationally recognized bamboo bicycle company in Ghana, to entrepreneurs from countries in Southeast Asia, where many communities rely on rattan for up to 50% of their cash income. According to INBAR Director General Hans Friederich, the bamboo and rattan sector employs almost 10 million people in China alone, proving that there are many possibilities for these plants to contribute to FTA’s core research themes.

Read also: Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

A bamboo bicycle is pictured on the first day of the Congress. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

Storing carbon 

The potential for bamboo to complement forests’ role as carbon sinks was much discussed. A new report, launched at BARC, shows how certain species of bamboos’ fast rate of carbon storage makes them a very competitive tool for carbon sequestration. In an important announcement in plenary, Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director-General of NFGA, suggested that bamboo could become part of offset projects in China’s new emissions trading scheme – a statement with huge potential for bamboo management.

And in a striking statement of support for bamboo’s use as a carbon sink, Dr. Li Nuyun, Executive Vice-President of the China Green Carbon Fund, stated that her organization would help establish a bamboo plantation in Yunnan province, China. Over time, the plantation will aim to sequester the estimated 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted over the course of the Congress – making BARC a ‘zero-carbon’ event.

Protecting biodiversity

Biodiversity management was the theme of a number of sessions. In a session on the Giant Panda, speakers from Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society in China, and the World Wildlife Fund committed their support toward a potential planning workshop in early 2019. The workshop would discuss how to take a holistic approach to biodiversity protection, which integrates bamboo management, panda protection and natural heritage conservation.

Read also: Study examines bamboo value chains to support industry growth

Offering ‘win-wins’

As many of the discussions showed, bamboo and rattan are often used because they offer more than one solution. Bamboo charcoal is such a case. As a clean-burning, locally growing source of energy, bamboo charcoal can significantly reduce stress on slower-growing forest resources. However, it can also form an important revenue source for individuals, particularly women.

Dancille Mukakamari, the Rwanda National Coordinator for the Africa Women’s Network for Sustainable Development, described how “charcoal is crucial for women in Africa”. And Gloria Adu, a successful Ghana-based entrepreneur who has been making bamboo charcoal for several decades, emphasized its huge potential for deforestation prevention, mentioning that almost three-quarters of Ghanaian forest loss came through charcoal production.

The road from BARC

Flags represent the countries in attendance at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

If bamboo and rattan are so important, then why are they not more widely used? A lack of awareness is one factor. According to many of the private sector representatives at BARC, the absence of clear customs codes for bamboo and rattan, or specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of products, has prevented their uptake.

Ignorance is only part of the problem, however. Although people are increasingly aware about bamboo and rattan’s properties, more needs to be done to share technologies and innovative uses. Speaking in plenary, entrepreneur and author of The Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli, said it best: “The science is already there. We don’t have to convince people about bamboo, we have to inspire them – and bamboo is an inspiring product.”

The Congress made an important step forward in this need to ‘inspire’ change. On the first day, INBAR and the International Fund for Agriculture announced the launch of a new project, which plans to share Chinese bamboo industry expertise and technologies with four countries in Africa. The initiative aims to benefit 30,000 rural smallholder farmers and community members across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, who will be taught about how to plant, manage and create value-added products using bamboo.

BARC also saw an outpouring of political support for bamboo and rattan. A number of heads of state and development organization leaders provided video messages in support of bamboo and rattan. And in a plenary session, John Hardy, the TED talk speaker and founder of the Bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia, offered to offset his lifetime carbon emissions using bamboo, in a demonstration of the plant’s carbon storage potential.

Read also: Mapping bamboo forest resources in East Africa

The Beijing Declaration

With three plenary events, 75 side sessions and a lot of inspiration, BARC showed that there is clearly growing interest in bamboo and rattan for forest management. Announced on the third and final day of the Congress, the Beijing Declaration aimed to put all these commitments into action. Written on behalf of “ministers, senior officials, and participants”, the Declaration lays out bamboo and rattan’s contributions as “a critical part of forests and ecosystems”, and calls upon governments to support the plants’ development in forestry and related initiatives.

According to INBAR’s Friederich, “The Beijing Declaration stands to make a real difference in the way bamboo and rattan are included in forest practices. Far from being poor man’s timber, this Congress has shown that bamboo and rattan are truly green gold. Now we need to focus on the road from BARC – how to make these plants a vital part of the way we manage forests, and the environment.”

Given their relevance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, their role in supporting sustainable forest conservation and their importance to smallholder livelihoods, bamboo and rattan are key NFTPs for the realization of FTA’s core aims. As the Congress showed, the key challenge now is to integrate these plants into forest management, and promote their central role in sustainable development.

By Charlotte King, INBAR international communications specialist. 

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  • What are the priorities for relevant, legitimate and effective forest and tree research? Lessons from the IUFRO congress

What are the priorities for relevant, legitimate and effective forest and tree research? Lessons from the IUFRO congress

A pisciculture research station is seen in Yaekama, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A pisciculture research station is seen in Yaekama, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

We can all agree that forests and trees play a vital role in sustaining life on earth. Addressing climate change – both mitigation and adaptation, something that few sectors can do simultaneously – ensuring food security and nutrition, and preserving biodiversity will not be possible without the full spectrum of solutions that forests, trees and agroforestry offer.

At the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) 125th Anniversary Congress, held on Sept. 18-22 in Freiburg, Germany, by one of the world’s oldest international scientific institutions, more than 40 scientists affiliated with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) presented their latest results and findings.

Among them were Bimbika Sijapati Basnett from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Marlène Elias from Bioversity International, who launched the Earthscan Reader on Gender and Forests, a major reference to ground future research, as well as to inform curricula worldwide.

FTA senior scientist Ramni Jamnadass of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) presented on safeguarding forest food tree diversity in a session on food trees in forests and farmlands, while her colleague Sonya Dewi presented about ICRAF’s work on combining remote sensing, crowdsourcing big data and multi-objective modelling to inform landscape approaches, during a session on forest restoration policy assessment in the tropics.

One of the major subplenary sessions – Changes in Forest Governance: Implications for Sustainable Forest Management – involved FTA scientists Pablo Pacheco and Paolo Cerutti of CIFOR, who presented on changes in forest governance in South America and Africa, respectively.

In a significant joint effort on the final day of the congress, IUFRO and FTA cohosted a subplenary session titled Research for sustainable development: Forests, trees and agroforestry, aimed at discussing main research and knowledge gaps in forest and tree science in relation to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and how to address them.

The IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress took place in Freiburg, Germany, from Sept. 18-22. Photo © FVA.

Forest and trees are central to many of the challenges of our time. This raises new questions every day, as the IUFRO congress showcased. But this makes the prioritization of issues both more difficult and more necessary. What is needed most and where we should start? How should we, as researchers and research institutions, conduct research in order to best enable impact?

We faced the same issue when constructing the second phase of FTA, with a very long shortlist of 100 critical knowledge gaps and key research questions, from genetic resources to value chains and institutions.

I wonder if this centrality of forests and trees to so many challenges could not be an overarching guide to orient research prioritization. We need to fully embrace the fact that forest and tree research has to address a complex set of objectives, because forests and trees are not only concerned with SDG15 on life on land, but also with the 16 other goals. Integration is key. So the overarching issue might be how we can integrate the different dimensions of sustainable development and different objectives into the research questions, research methods and solutions we develop in practice.

For example, thanks to the integration of the work of very different scientific disciplines – tree biology, atmospheric biogeochemistry, climatology, hydrology and dendrology – there is now convincing convergent evidence on the role of forests in atmospheric water circulation, at continental scales. Forests enable rain to occur downwind at continental scales, and can help to preserve so-called bread baskets.

But we still need more work on the science base and, at the same time, on the types of institutions, policies and economic instruments to be developed so that action leads to outcomes for farmers in the field. This shows the need for integration between disciplines, scales and actors. In this particular domain, the Global Expert Panel on Forests and Water launched by IUFRO will be of tremendous use and I am particularly glad that it is being co-led by former FTA senior scientist Meine van Noordwijk, who recently retired but brought so much to FTA.

This question of the integration of objectives, of research domains and across scales, has important methodological implications, in terms of the solutions to be developed, how, with whom and for whom. It can, for a program as broad as FTA, lead to deciding to orient the priority support toward work that constructs linkages between research domains and system approaches.

The Rupa Lake cooperative improves farmers’ livelihoods and helps preserve the lake’s ecosystem. Photo by B. Saugat/Bioversity

There are two other critical dimensions to integrate:

First is the requirement to work on the full continuum from technical options to management, policy, governance and appropriate institutional arrangements. Looking at the enabling environment, such as institutional arrangements, incentive schemes and adapted business models, will facilitate upscaling and outscaling of technical options.

Second is the need to work on the “research for development” continuum, from upstream research to how the actors use this, and integrating stakeholders from the framing of questions to the development and implementation of solutions.

This implies, as spearheaded by Brian Belcher, FTA’s monitoring, evaluation and learning and impact assessment head, the need to revisit what we mean by “quality of research”, enlarging it to four dimensions. The traditional dimensions of relevance and scientific credibility need to be completed by legitimacy and effectiveness.

  • Legitimacy means that the research process is fair and ethical, and perceived as such, with consideration of the interests and perspectives of the intended users.
  • Effectiveness means that research has high potential to contribute to innovations and solutions. It implies that research is designed, implemented and positioned for use, which implies work along what we call a “theory of change”.

We can complement CGIAR by embracing this framework to define and measure the quality of research for development. This requires building appropriate partnerships, starting with development actors, and working on the enabling environment to translate knowledge to use. In FTA, for a substantial part of our research, we embed research in development projects. We aim at doing research “in” development, rather than research “for” development.

To enable this, FTA aims at playing the role of a boundary institution:

  • To understand the frontiers of science, working with universities, research institutions
  • To understand the need of beneficiaries, working with local stakeholders, governments
  • To understand the priorities of funders
  • To organize the dialogue between the three, and provide packages that bring them all together

This is a good reason why, in the future, we at FTA would like to further strengthen our relations with IUFRO.

By Vincent Gitz, FTA Director

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  • Gender and forestry gain increasing attention worldwide

Gender and forestry gain increasing attention worldwide

Nalma village is situated on a hillside near the Himalayas. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR
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A woman is pictured in the village of Nalma, Nepal, where gender has a strong influence on social roles. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

A new reader launched on Sept. 21 brings together 30 years of scholarship on a topic that is gaining increasing attention worldwide: gender and forestry. 

The Earthscan Reader on Gender and Forests brings together an accessible collection of theory, analysis, methodology and case studies, defining the position of gender and forestry in the social sciences, and laying out the ongoing debates in the field.

Launched on the sidelines of International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) 125th Anniversary Congress, the book is expected to find a wide audience, not least among the 2,100 researchers, practitioners and policymakers expected to attend the event, where the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is also presenting a subplenary session.

Intended as a companion to last year’s Gender and Forests: Climate Change, Tenure, Value Chains and Emerging Issues, the collection of papers was compiled by three of the same editors – Carol Colfer and FTA’s Bimbika Sijapati Basnett from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and FTA’s Marlène Elias from Bioversity International. For the latest publication, they were also joined by Susan Stevens Hummel from the Forest Service at the United States Department of Agriculture.

The FTA Gender Integration Team caught up with Basnett and Elias before the book launch to find out more.

Why does the academic world need a book on gender and forestry?

Elias: Events such as climate change, market integration, large-scale land acquisitions, migration and other processes occurring across multiple scales are having big consequences for those living in and off the forests in rural areas worldwide. These transformations present risks, especially to groups that are already more vulnerable. But they can also open up opportunities for change toward greater gender equality.

Whichever way, positive or negative, the effects are not equal for women and men of different ages and socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds in different regions of the world. This book highlights the accumulated knowledge on how gender influences these processes of change and the way they are being experienced by both women and men.

With women’s rights at the forefront of contemporary political struggles in many countries, both in the global South and North, we felt there was a need and interest among a wide group of people for more information on gender and forests. We think that especially those who are working to improve forests and the lives of rural women and men will find the knowledge shared in this reader useful.

Nalma village is situated on a hillside near the Himalayas. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

What is the value of compiling these papers in one volume?

Basnett: So much effort these days in research is focused on journal articles, which are more accessible online in the global North. However, many older articles are generally not in open access format, and are thus not available at all to students and researchers living in developing countries. Even if they were, not everyone who is interested in this topic has knowledge of, access to, and time available to search for information on the topic.

So we felt that putting these papers together in one volume, which we would make available initially in a printed book and later on for free through the CIFOR website, would provide a real service. A lot of work has been done on gender and forests, but there is no compilation that really takes a historical view on where we’ve been and how thinking in this area has developed. This is also part of the value of the book.

Read more: Gender analysis and research

Who do you think this book will be especially useful for?

Basnett: This book would be useful to a wide range of readers such as students, policymakers and practitioners, from those wanting an introduction to the topic to those looking to better grasp key issues, approaches and debates. It features a range of articles on the intersection between gender and forests/natural resource management across a spectrum of disciplines, geographies and historical periods from some of the leading scholars, and defining texts over the last 30 years.

For instance, it includes chapters on configurations of gender relations from household to macro levels; interactions between gender, race and other axes of social difference in defining access and command over resources; the interconnections and divisions in gender issues between the global North and the global South; discourses on gender within social movements; gendered politics surrounding citizenship and access to forest resources; and perspectives on men and masculinities in gender research.

What parts would you say are particularly useful for practitioners? 

Elias: Practitioners may find particular chapters useful that focus on the specific themes on which they work, such as tenure, migration, forest farming, and others. Readers interested in particular geographic or topical areas can go to those sections directly, for example the sections on North America, Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

But the entire compilation is also useful, as it contextualizes the importance of each of the chapters in relation to our current understanding of gender and forests, and points out the key aspects each chapter has contributed to our current way of thinking. Some of the papers are more approach-oriented, which can help scholars and practitioners think through the use and appropriateness of certain methods and how their own position influences their research and practice.

A woman sits on the terrace of her home in Nalma, Nepal, which many adult males leave to find work, leaving behind children, women and the elderly. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

What are the main recommendations that practitioners can get from the book?

Basnett: Practitioners who are seeking practical guidance on how to integrate gender into their programs and projects on forests will come to understand that including gender in forestry is not easy, that there is no formula for doing it. Having said that, there are broader lessons that they may find to be useful. The chapters serve to demonstrate that ‘gender’ is not just about women; that gender relations constantly shift and change; and that there is a distinction between rationalizing gender for instrumental purposes and for intrinsic ones.

Ignoring gender issues might be detrimental for resource management and/or livelihood outcomes, but simply adding women to policies or interventions is not the answer. An understanding is needed of how gender relations are structured in societies, how these pre-define who has a voice in forest management, how benefits and costs are distributed across different social groups, and thereby, where to find openings for gender-inclusive changes.

What are some of the lessons you hope scholars and applied researchers will learn?

Elias: We hope that through the book’s different contributions (such as Andrea Nightingale’s chapter on research methods, for example), researchers and practitioners will understand that the tools they use to uncover the ‘truth’ about men, women, and gender inequality are always ‘partial’, and that they will remain reflexive when attempting to change the social realities of women and men. For some, this might be very unsettling, but for others, it will encourage them to constantly question what they do and be sensitive and innovative in their approaches.

Read more: FTA Focus on Gender newsletter

By Manon Koningstein, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Bimbika Sijapati Basnett at [email protected]or Marlène Elias at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by UKAID.


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