• Home
  • Exploring guiding elements of transformational change in integrated landscape management

Exploring guiding elements of transformational change in integrated landscape management

Posted by


Great emphasis is currently being placed on achieving transformational change and paradigm shift through policies and measures to implement the Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 development agenda, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF). There is a need to improve our understanding on how to enable, operationalize, measure and evaluate the intended, lasting outcomes. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are partnering to elucidate the triggers and drivers of, and resistance to, transformational change across the landscape.

  • Home
  • Integration is name of the game that forests and agriculture need to play

Integration is name of the game that forests and agriculture need to play

Banyan trees beside a river. Photo by FAO Forestry Mediabase
Posted by


Banyan trees. Photo by FAO Forestry Mediabase

Sustainable development of agriculture cannot be reached without acknowledging the important role forests have in landscapes and in value chains.

Agroforestry systems include not only traditional but also modern land-use systems where trees are managed together with crops and/or animal production systems in agricultural settings.

Whenever trees can be kept intact rather than be cleared for the purposes of agricultural production and forest ecosystems can thrive alongside crops, the more benefits are reaped. Considering this there is a need to facilitate the integration of agriculture and forestry relevant policies, allowing them to play better, together.

However, what is needed is a forward-looking focus on research, knowledge-generation and scaling-up with development of strong partnership among many different stakeholders. This is exactly what a side event at this year’s CFS 44 entitled “Forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition and the SDGs: Research and partners, toward a joint action agenda” aimed to debate.

The event itself was organized in a partnership between a large number of different stakeholders, including the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Netherlands Government, Tropenbos International and SIANI.

A strong case has been made for scaling up agroforestry in order to address the need for more productive and sustainable use of the land while assuring livelihoods and quality nutrition for the growing world population. In fact, as stated by FAO in their presentation on agroforestry, there is a constantly growing body of scientific literature that clearly demonstrates the gains accruing from agroforestry adoption, especially in regards to the improvement of the environment and people’s lives.

Continuing to invest in research is therefore essential. As FAO outlines “the agroforestry systems are dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management systems that diversify and sustain production in order to increase social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all scales.”

Click here to read the full story on the CFS website, by #CFS44 Social Reporter Ksenija Simovic.

As part of the live coverage during CFS44, this post covers the Forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition and the SDGs side event.

  • Home
  • Why good policies and public funding (only) won’t change the world

Why good policies and public funding (only) won’t change the world

Photo by G. Smith/CIAT
Posted by


Photo by G. Smith/CIAT

We have been cutting trees to plant food crops since the beginning of time. Forest cover loss is a major contributor to climate change – the biggest challenge of our times. So, we won’t save the world without saving forests.

However, while the connection between forests and climate is very well recognized, agriculture is an elephant in the room at climate talks and a rare bird at discussions about forestry.

International deforestation curbing policy infrastructure is well developed. It includes the New York Declaration on Forests, the Bonn Challenge, Initiative 20×20, AFR100 and now also the UN Strategic Plan on Forests 2017-2030, just to mention a few of its components.

These are all great, but throwing billions at conservation and afforestation won’t work without making agriculture sustainable and zero-deforestation.

“Foresters must get out of the woods and focus more on deforestation drivers!” invokes Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador to the FAO of the Netherlands, at the “Forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition and the SDGs” side event during the 44th session of the Committee on World Food Security.

Click here to read the full story on the CFS website, by #CFS44 Social Reporter Ekaterina Bessonova.

As part of the live coverage during CFS44, this post covers the Forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition and the SDGs side event.

  • Home
  • High Level Panel of Experts launches landmark report on sustainable forestry

High Level Panel of Experts launches landmark report on sustainable forestry

Project Team Leader Terry Sunderland presents during the HLPE report launch at FAO Headquarters. Photo ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Posted by


The HLPE launches its latest report at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, on June 27, 2017. Photo ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

The High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) launched on June 27 a landmark report on sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition (FSN). The HLPE is the independent science-policy interface of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS). It provides a comprehensive evidence base for the political, multistakeholder discussions at the CFS.

The launch marked the first time that the CFS discussed the contributions of forests and trees to world food security, and how to enhance them. This is a very significant debate at UN level.

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) welcomes this report, and is proud to have significantly contributed to its elaboration by providing science and knowledge. The project team leader for the report, Terry Sunderland, a Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist, is also a research cluster leader for FTA.

Forest and trees: key to food security and nutrition

FTA Director Vincent Gitz speaks during the launch of the HLPE report at FAO Headquarters in Rome. Photo ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

The report presents a very compelling argument for the contribution of forests across the four major dimensions of food security and nutrition, which are availability, access, utilization and stability.

Forests and trees contribute directly and indirectly to food security and nutrition in many ways: the provision of food, primary energy (wood fuel for cooking), employment and income, and ecosystems services such as water regulation, soil protection, pest control pollination, and protection of biodiversity, which are all critical for sustainable food security and nutrition.

In addition, they play an important role in climate change mitigation at the global level, and adaptation at the local level, particularly in certain areas of the world and especially for those communities, often the most marginalized, that rely on forests for their livelihoods.

A new perspective, beyond arbitrary divides

A novelty of this report is that it goes beyond and leaves behind the traditional and somewhat arbitrary divides and distinctions between forest types and definitions, toward a more holistic approach to the roles of forests and trees, and the diversity of situations and roles of trees in landscapes, agriculture, farms and food systems, as key contributors to sustainable development, food security and nutrition.


The report makes 37 recommendations, grouped under the following seven headings, which pave the way for an action agenda on forests and trees for food security and nutrition:

  1. Rapporteur Francois Pythoud (left to right), FAO Deputy Director-General Climate and Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo, HLPE Chairperson Patrick Caron, CFS Chairperson Amira Gornass, Project Team Leader Terry Sunderland and HLPE Coordinator Nathanael Pingault launch the report at FAO Headquarters. Photo ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

    Develop and use policy-relevant knowledge on the direct and indirect contributions of forests and trees to FSN

  2. Enhance the role of forests in environmental processes at all scales without compromising the right to adequate food of forest-dependent people
  3. Support the contributions of forests to improve livelihoods and economies for FSN
  4. Promote multifunctional landscapes for FSN that integrate forests and trees as key components
  5. Acknowledge the importance and strengthen the role of forests and trees in enhancing resilience at landscape, community and household levels for FSN 
  6. Recognize and respect land and natural resource tenure and use rights over forests and trees for FSN
  7. Strengthen inclusive forest governance systems across sectors and scales for FSN

Implications for the research agenda, and for FTA

This report, at the same time as taking stock of the breadth of existing knowledge on the role of forests and tree-based systems for FSN and their potential contribution to reducing global hunger and malnutrition, also highlights the need for further data collection and analysis that will enable the case-by-case assessment all of these contributions, whom they benefit, and at which geographical and temporal scales.

Project Team Leader Terry Sunderland presents during the HLPE report launch at FAO Headquarters. Photo ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

The HLPE report also shows the need for a better understanding of the drivers of change, and of the dynamics at play in landscapes — all areas that are at the heart of FTA research.

Situations are very diverse, socio-economical contexts are very different, and this shows the need for options-by-contexts to make the most of this potential. In FTA, we have good examples of what works, and how this can work in partnership for impact.

FTA can provide the evidence and tools to generate, pilot and, with partners (governments, the private sector, foresters and farmers), to scale-up and scale-out a range of solutions, according to a diversity of contexts.

We look forward to the discussion and the expressions of need in relation to research that will be discussed in the CFS policy convergence process, which will lead to decisions at the upcoming CFS 44 plenary on October 9-13, 2017.

We will use the results of that process to inform FTA’s future research priorities, and to fine-tune these to the needs of stakeholders for even greater relevance, legitimacy and effectiveness in the work we do.

By Vincent Gitz, FTA Director.

  • Home
  • Yes, we could and we did. Gender specialists share success stories

Yes, we could and we did. Gender specialists share success stories

Photo: FAO
Posted by


By Markus Ihalainen

The event “Gender Matters in Forestry – Challenges and Opportunities”, during the World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, brought together policy makers, practitioners and researchers to look at what is already being done to address gender in forest policy and practice. The panel featured: Esther Mwangi, Principal Scientist (CIFOR), Heidrun Ströbert-Beloud, Gender Officer (GIZ), Patricia Rosete Xotlanihua, Deputy Director of Intersectoral Cooperation, Mexican National Forestry Commission, Eva Müller, Director at the FAO Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division, Bhaswati Thakurta, PhD candidate, University of Calcutta and Åsa Torkelsson, Economic Empowerment Advisor, UN Women.

Photo: FAO
Gender matters in forestry. Photo: FAO

We know gender matters in forestry. An ever-increasing body of research has time and again demonstrated that. We know that cultural norms and power relations often assign men and women different roles in forest use and management; gender inequalities persist in access and control over forest resources, benefit distribution as well as participation in decision-making. These inequalities are further likely to be exacerbated by climate change.

We also know that empowering women in forest management and use is crucial for realizing their rights. It is also often likely to bring about more egalitarian policy outcomes and environmental benefits.

So instead of discussing whether gender matters or not, why not look at what is already being done in terms of addressing gender in forest policy and practice? Our event tried to do just that.

Examining various initiatives and approaches, and understanding what works, what doesn’t, and why, is of crucial importance, also to allow for compiling and up-scaling best practices and identifying the enabling conditions, under which certain approaches to integrating gender translate into the desired outcomes.

Empowering women benefits the forestry sector. Photo: Simon Maina/FAO
Empowering women in forestry also benefits the environment. Photo: Simon Maina/FAO

In Uganda and Nicaragua, CIFOR researchers worked alongside communities to jointly identify and address barriers to equal participation in decision-making. They used a participatory research approach titled Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM). After five years, women’s representation in forest executive committees is now on par with men’s, compared to the baseline figure of 16% at the inception stage. Involving both women and men in the process also made it easier for men to accept women’s leadership, said presenter Esther Mwangi

Promoting equal participation in forest decision-making also benefits the environment. In her research in India, Bhaswati Thakurta found that laws for equal participation in forest administration groups were often not enforced. Before women were included, it was the responsibility of men to guard the forest area, but they were idle and drank alcohol. This depraved their families of income so that the women saw themselves forced to cut trees illegally to sell them for livelihood.

The West Bengal state forest department changed the scenario radically. They included women in the forest management program and created Forest Protection Committees that were exclusively managed by women. So the illegal felling stopped.

Working with the male-dominated Moroccan Forest Administration on gender mainstreaming, Heidrun Ströbert-Beloud and the GIZ project team asked how the Moroccan forest sector could support gender-equal participation on the local forest user level, if the institution itself is not gender-inclusive? To change this, GIZ trained forest officials on gender issues and helped to bring more women into the forest administration. Since female representation is slowly but constantly increasing and staff are more aware of gender issues, both factors are expected to contribute to a more gender inclusive forest policy.

In Mexico, women’s land ownership and participation in forest decision-making is very limited. To address these issues, CONAFOR has adopted a twofold approach. First, the commission promotes women’s participation through gender-specific programs. These programs focus both on building women’s capacity as well as raising awareness of gender issues among men. Second, the commission – much like GIZ in Morocco – actively works to increase awareness of gender within CONAFOR. This involves studies, stakeholder consultations and building the capacity of staff. For the past two years, CONAFOR has devoted 10% of their budget to gender-specific activities, and their advances in integrating gender considerations into policy were hailed as a “shining example” by Lorena Aguilar from IUCN in the Huffington Post.

Eva Müller stated that women’s participation is increasing in many countries, but their access to decision-making and leadership positions continues to be limited. A study by FAO and RECOFTC suggests that while gender-responsive policies are crucial, they might not be enough to reduce pervasive gender inequalities in forestry. Instead, policies should be supported by a number of additional measures, such as: 1) gender sensitization seminars and workshops for decision-makers; 2) supporting institutions to facilitate incremental learning and knowledge exchange; 3) facilitating coordination between technical line ministries and women’s groups and their alliances; and 4) strengthening the capacity of women’s organizations, user networks to engage in forestry-related consultations.

There is need for further alignment of the sustainability and gender agendas, said Åsa Torkelsson from UN Women. There is no sustainable development without everyone on board. Women are relatively most impacted by climatic changes. UN Women’s forthcoming work with UNEP–UNDP-PEI Africa and World Bank estimates the substantive Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity, and explores the impact on agricultural production and national income. This gap exists because women frequently have unequal access to key agricultural inputs, such as land, labor, knowledge, fertilizer and improved seeds. Sticky areas for gender inequalities remain and new areas emerge: land, access to technologies. UN Women’s Alliance for Women in Technologies proposes to increase women’s productivity and time-saving and reduce post-harvest losses.

All presentations showed that working jointly with forestry departments and local communities to raise awareness and build their capacity in gender issues, encouraging equal representation and offering continued support, are measures that have the potential of resulting in more gender-responsive policies and outcomes.

Throughout the presentations, the importance of involving boys and men in the process of changing gender relations was stressed as a key factor for ensuring both immediate and long-term success. Unequal power-relations are often deeply rooted in norms and institutions, and thus rarely questioned. By identifying and discussing privileges and power that groups have over one another, and pointing at both the injustice of inequality and the collective benefits of equality, perceptions of what is “normal” can slowly begin to change.




Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us