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  • CIFOR and ICRAF directors general discuss merger

CIFOR and ICRAF directors general discuss merger

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The world’s leading organizations on forestry and agroforestry, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF), merged on Jan. 1, 2019, in order to leverage their combined 65 years of research and experience. Directors General Robert Nasi and Tony Simons recently sat down to talk about why the two organizations were merging. They also discussed tackling food security and sustainable landscapes.

Originally published by CIFOR.

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  • Integrating bioenergy and food production on degraded landscapes in Indonesia for improved socioeconomic and environmental outcomes

Integrating bioenergy and food production on degraded landscapes in Indonesia for improved socioeconomic and environmental outcomes

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Growing bioenergy crops on degraded and underutilized land is a promising solution to meet the requirement for energy security, food security, and land restoration. This paper assesses the socioeconomic and environmental benefits of agroforestry systems based on nyamplung (tamanu) (Calophyllum inophyllum L.) in the Wonogiri district of Central Java, Indonesia. Data were collected through field observations and focus group discussions involving 20 farmers who intercrop nyamplung with maize, rice, and peanuts and utilize the species in honey production. Calculating each crop’s net present value (NPV) demonstrates that when grown as monocultures, staple crops rice and peanuts lead to negative profitability, while maize generates only a marginal profit; yet honey production utilizing nyamplung produces a NPV nearly 300 times greater than maize. However, when utilizing nyamplung, honey is also the commodity most sensitive to decreases in production, followed by nyamplung peanut and nyamplung rice combinations. While decreases in production have little effect on the NPVs of rice, peanuts, and maize, these annual crops can only be cultivated for a maximum of 6 years within the nyamplung’s 35-year cycle, due to canopy closure after this time. Nyamplung-based agroforestry systems can provide economic, social, and environmental gains on different scales. However, when considering the high profit potential of nyamplung combined with honey production, further research is needed to improve and develop bee husbandry practices so this becomes a viable option for local farmers.

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  • Agricultural intensification, dietary diversity, and markets in the global food security narrative

Agricultural intensification, dietary diversity, and markets in the global food security narrative

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Many food security experts have been calling for agricultural intensification in developing countries to feed a growing global population. This narrative is based on a narrow view of food security focused on calories and neglects issues of dietary quality. Encouraging small farmers across the developing world to grow more staple crops more intensively may have unintended negative consequences on dietary quality. A more nuanced approach sensitive to local contexts and appreciative of foods other than staples may lead to alternative policy choices in many places.

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  • The Tamale Declaration: a regreening plan for northern Ghana

The Tamale Declaration: a regreening plan for northern Ghana

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An international workshop has called for an integrated plan to regreen the region.

The climax of the international workshop held late November 2018 in Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s Northern Region, was when the nearly 60 participants issued an urgent call for a ‘comprehensive Regreening Plan’.

The Plan would see the integration of trees with crops and livestock across northern Ghana, which they say is needed to ‘restore landscapes and improve livelihoods’ in the three regions that comprise the country’s northern belt.

Their call was addressed to all key policy-makers in Ghana’s Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, including the Northern Development Authority, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, traditional authorities, and also the ministries of Land and Natural Resources, of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and of Food and Agriculture. The workshop called on these institutions to allocate budget and incentive systems to support the Regreening Plan.

The theme of regreening is a crucial one in Ghana, which is one of eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa involved in the ambitious Regreening Africa project, which is funded by the European Union. The aim is to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households and across 1 million hectares. In Ghana, Regreening Africa is targeting 40,000 households on 90,000 hectares of land to be restored by 2022.

As part of the Bonn Challenge, in 2015 Ghana also pledged to restore 2 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030, in addition to two previous land-restoration pledges by the Government: the Forestry Development Master Plan launched in 1996, which aimed to plant trees on 200,000 hectares of unproductive forest land and the savannah zone by 2020; and the National Forest Plantation Strategy, which aims to rehabilitate 235,000 hectares of forest plantations and enrich planting of 100,000 hectares of under-stocked forest reserves by 2040.

Fergus Sinclair, leader of Systems Science at World Agroforestry, who led one of the sessions at the workshop, said that, ‘With such ambitious targets to meet, this multi-stakeholder workshop in Tamale — Restoring Landscapes for Resilient Livelihoods in Northern Ghana — could not have come at a more opportune time.’

A broad range of perspectives and expertise
The participants came from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and from all over Ghana, representing a broad range of perspectives, backgrounds and professions: national and regional governments; donors; international and grassroots non-governmental organizations; farmers’ organizations; and one paramount chief.

Aftermath of a fire. Photo: World Agroforestry/Gloria Adeyiga

While there was consensus about the urgent need for land restoration, it was abundantly clear that there are still major challenges to be overcome: gender relations and imbalances in decision-making powers; the nature of land and tree tenure among different ethnic groups and in different regions; policy and legislative gaps in protecting and managing trees in the landscape and the environment as a whole; negative impacts of fires; indiscriminate cutting of trees (including for charcoal production); and clearing for agriculture and mining.

Paramount Chief Bong Naaba Baba Salifu Alemnyarun of the Bongo Traditional Area expressed his concern that the power of traditional authorities to protect the environment had been whittled away over the years.

“If we, the chiefs, had all the powers like our forefathers used to do, there wouldn’t be any destruction of the environment; nobody would cut a tree [without permission],” he said.

While acknowledging the role of chiefs in enforcing rules, there was also consensus that it is important to vest powers of managing trees with farmers and ensure that regulations do not stifle their ability to benefit so that there is an incentive for regreening.

It was noted that there were bylaws to protect trees and the environment but they were not enforced, prompting a call for lawmakers from the Attorney General’s office to attend future workshops to address these issues.

Shea tree in parkland. Photo: World Agroforestry/Emilie Smith Dumont

Analysis of the causes of land degradation revealed a lack of coordination, weak political will and poor funding, legislative and policy gaps, restrictive sociocultural norms, economic barriers, and a shortage of scientific evidence. Nevertheless, they expressed determination to overcome the challenges.

After the workshop, Gloria Adeyiga, a researcher with the Forestry Research Institute who is working with the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) in Ghana, said she felt optimistic about the prospects for regreening the northern region.

“The workshop highlighted some concerns I’ve always had about issues around regreening,” Adeyiga said. “But I learned that others share these concerns and that we can address them for more sustainable interventions and long-term impact.”

“The future of land restoration and improving livelihoods lies in building evidence through participatory research,” said World Agroforestry’s Emilie Smith Dumont. She has coordinated WAFFI in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and is the focal point for Regreening Africa in the region.

One session presented land-restoration projects on a map of northern Ghana, revealing many separate projects with similar goals. This highlighted the need for better communication and coordination.

Patrice Savadogo, who is taking over Smith Dumont’s role next year, emphasized that restoration, ‘also depends on increasing coordination between efforts to address common bottlenecks in activities to increase tree cover. Recognizing this, as we did together at the workshop, is the first step in overcoming them.’

Aaron B. Aduna, chief basin officer for the White Volta River with the Water Resources Commission, said the workshop was excellent in its diversity of participants and in how it generated discussion.

“Looking at the calibre of people gathered here,” said Aduna, “I am optimistic that a lot will be achieved in the regreening of Ghana.”

Aduna added that it is time that people paid attention to the importance of regreening and to trees in the landscape because, he said, “If there is no forest, there is no water.”

For more information, please contact Patrice Savadogo: [email protected]

The workshop was a collaboration between Regreening Africa and the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI). WAFFI is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Regreening Africa is a five-year project that seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services. Partners in Regreening Africa and WAFFI include Catholic Relief Services, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), European Union, Economics of Land Degradation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability, Tree Aid, World Agroforestry, and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


By Joan Baxter, originally published by The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

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  • Integrating bioenergy and food production on degraded landscapes in Indonesia

Integrating bioenergy and food production on degraded landscapes in Indonesia

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Energy demand in Indonesia is increasing rapidly, by 43% between 2005 and 2016. Indonesia thus relies on imported fuel (27%). Around 16.8 mill ha of land in Indonesia is severely or highly severely degraded. Restoration is very costly, ranging from approximately US$250 to 3000/ha. Biofuel species such as nyamplung (Calophyllum inophyllum) could be used to restore around 5.7 million hectares, at a relatively low cost.

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  • Comparative study of local nutrition and diet examines expansion of oil palm plantations into forest areas

Comparative study of local nutrition and diet examines expansion of oil palm plantations into forest areas

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When Rosalina Heni is not working in the rice paddy fields in Ribang Kadeng village in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, she gathers vegetables in the surrounding forest for her family to eat.

By contrast, in nearby Sekadu Village, local resident Maria Ludiana can no longer collect enough ferns, bamboo shoots and other vegetables to feed her family because an oil palm plantation has supplanted the natural growth forest.

“Right now, we buy more,” Ludiana says in a new video produced by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “The difference is that before, everything was natural – natural foods, spices. The types of meat we eat have started to change.”

Watch: Expansion of oil palm plantations into forests appears to be changing local diets in Indonesia

The subsistence livelihoods of more than 150 million residents of rural areas in Indonesia are at risk from oil palm expansion, according to scientists studying impact on nutritional status and diets as part of a research project funded by the Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) Competitive Grants Programs, which is funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed by the University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, USA.

In some circumstances the scientists have already observed traditional diets being abandoned.

“So far, we’ve seen that the people who live in the forest rely on nature – nature becomes their main way to get food,” says Yusuf Habibie, lecturer in the Department of Nutrition in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Brawijaya in the city of Malang in East Java province. “Then, when land is converted to oil palm plantations, with no forests, people lose access to wild food from the forest. Instead they start to purchase more food, including packaged foods.”

Forests and agroforestry systems which combine trees and crops play important roles in food security and nutrition, says CIFOR Scientist Amy Ickowitz, observing that communities in West Kalimantan eating forest foods, including fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, are getting all nutritional components found in healthy diets.

“Forests can play an important role in making our global food system more sustainable and more environmentally friendly, while making an important contribution to healthy diets ,” Ickowitz says, adding that improving food security and nutrition is not always as simple as raising incomes in rural communities; oil palm companies, governments, and researchers need to work together to find ways to make sure that landscape change does not harm health and nutrition while improving incomes.

If there are no plants, where are we going to be if not dead, queries Bandi, a respected elder living in the village of Sungai Utik.

“Nature is our supermarket,” he says. “If there is no forest, where can we get this variety of food? We will be forced to buy.”

Scientists are continuing their research into the impact of plantations on local forests in Indonesia. As yet, they have not compared oil palm with rubber plantations, which may not have the same impact on local diets.

For more information on this topic, please contact Amy Ickowitz at [email protected].

By Julie Mollins, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.
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  • The State of Jurisdictional Sustainability: Synthesis for practitioners and policymakers

The State of Jurisdictional Sustainability: Synthesis for practitioners and policymakers

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Jurisdictional approaches to sustainable development hold tremendous potential for advancing holistic, durable solutions to the intertwined issues of tropical deforestation, rural livelihoods, and food security. With many jurisdictional “experiments” underway around the world, the time is ripe for a systematic assessment.

Earth Innovation Institute (EII), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF-TF) are collaborating on a comprehensive study of these experiments across the Tropics to draw on early lessons. More specifically, the study evaluates progress towards low-emission, sustainable development, including goals and commitments, monitoring and reporting systems, multi-stakeholder governance platforms, and innovative policies and initiatives that are core elements of jurisdictional sustainability. The assessment also includes an in-depth analysis of deforestation and emissions (including drivers and agents of deforestation and forest degradation) and examines the potential implications of low-emission rural development (LED-R) strategies for future emission reductions. It also explores barriers to and opportunities for fostering jurisdictional sustainability.

The report includes analytical briefs about each jurisdiction, as well as an overall synthesis of jurisdictional sustainability across the Tropics. The full report will be published in September 2018, ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit and the Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force Meeting in San Francisco, California.This study focuses on 39 primarily first-level subnational political and administrative divisions (e.g., province, state, etc.) in 12 tropical countries. In 2017-18 we compiled secondary data and conducted interviews with key stakeholders in all jurisdictions on the themes described above. In several jurisdictions, we also implemented the Sustainable Landscapes Rating Tool (SLRT) of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance to assist in our assessment of jurisdictions’ progress towards LED-R.

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  • Climate-smart land use requires local solutions, transdisciplinary research, policy coherence and transparency

Climate-smart land use requires local solutions, transdisciplinary research, policy coherence and transparency

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Successfully meeting the mitigation and adaptation targets of the Paris Climate Agreement (PA) will depend on strengthening the ties between forests and agriculture. Climate-smart land use can be achieved by integrating climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and REDD+. The focus on agriculture for food security within a changing climate, and on forests for climate change mitigation and adaptation, can be achieved simultaneously with a transformational change in the land-use sector. Striving for both independently will lead to competition for land, inefficiencies in monitoring and conflicting agendas. Practical solutions exist for specific contexts that can lead to increased agricultural output and forest protection. Landscape-level emissions accounting can be used to identify these practices. Transdisciplinary research agendas can identify and prioritize solutions and targets for integrated mitigation and adaptation interventions. Policy coherence must be achieved at a number of levels, from international to local, to avoid conflicting incentives. Transparency must lastly be integrated, through collaborative design of projects, and open data and methods. Climate-smart land use requires all these elements, and will increase the likelihood of successful REDD+ and CSA interventions. This will support the PA as well as other initiatives as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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  • Agroforestry sites in Vietnam provide lessons for farmland in Bhutan and Nepal

Agroforestry sites in Vietnam provide lessons for farmland in Bhutan and Nepal

Terraced hillside in the Son La agroforestry landscape in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Photo by Chuki Wangmo
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Terraced hillside in the Son La agroforestry landscape in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Photo by Chuki Wangmo

Government officers from the mountainous countries of Bhutan and Nepal have visited highly successful agroforestry sites in Northwest Vietnam that are helping to restore degraded sloping land and improve farmers’ incomes.

The steep upland farming areas of Bhutan, Nepal and Vietnam share similar challenges in establishing sustainable agricultural practices that improve livelihoods and the environment.

To share knowledge and experience from working with farmers in the steeply sloping landscapes of Northwest Vietnam, government officers from Bhutan and Nepal traveled to Son La and Dien Bien provinces to explore an array of well-developed agroforestry systems, demonstration sites, plantations and nurseries. The visitors learned how the various systems have contributed to increased food security, income stability, water availability and reduced soil erosion.

As well as designing and establishing the systems with farmers and government extension officers, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), has been working with farmers to monitor changes in soil erosion following the adoption of agroforestry practices.

Chuki Wangmo and Kinley Wangmo from the Institute of Conservation and Environmental Research of the Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, and Ram Babu Paudyal and Bishnu Kumari Adhikari from Nepal’s Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conservation, noted that cultivating on a steep gradient is something that communities across all three countries were familiar with. However, the associated issues of soil and wind erosion were not easy to mitigate.

An agroforestry system is seen on a hillside in Son La province, Vietnam. Photo by Chuki Wangmo

The visitors were first shown a five-year-old complex agroforestry system in Son La, where the recorded decline in soil erosion since the introduction of agroforestry was of particular relevance to the officers from Bhutan, who work with farmers in mountainous terrain.

“Hard evidence is very important,” noted Chuki Wangmo. “If people at both the national and local levels can see how agroforestry can be of benefit to crop production, especially by addressing soil and wind erosion issues which many farmers suffer from, it would encourage wider adoption of agroforestry in our country.”

Farmers in both Vietnam and Bhutan are already significantly affected by the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. In Bhutan, changes to precipitation are exacerbating the rate of soil erosion, which is speeding a decline in soil fertility, compounded by the steep terrain. The government often has to compensate farmers affected by crop losses and damage caused by landslides and flooding.

About 70 percent of Bhutanese farmers rely on agriculture, forestry and livestock for subsistence livelihoods yet only 8 percent of Bhutan’s total land area is cultivable. The establishment of agroforestry would enable farmers cultivating small areas of land to improve the efficiency and diversity of crop production in already fragile mountainous areas, whilst meeting the socioeconomic needs of the community.

“The successful agroforestry demonstration sites we visited revealed how agroforestry systems can increase land-use efficiency for smallholders by increasing the productivity per area unit,” noted Ram Babu Paudyal.

Nepal could reap the benefits of such simple yet effective agroforestry systems to produce a diverse range of products on small areas of land.

In Son La province, the Nepali visitors heard how farmers involved in a 50-hectare demonstration agroforestry landscape had migrated from a neighboring area affected by the construction of a hydropower dam.

The role of agroforestry in improving livelihoods is particularly relevant to Nepal because it is experiencing increased out-migration from rural areas. This was a key motive of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in funding a pilot study dubbed Enhancing Rural Livelihoods in Abandoned/Underutilized Agricultural Land through Agroforestry.

“We hope that agroforestry will encourage the return of urban migrants to farms,” said Ram Babu Paudyal. “If agroforestry can be demonstrated as a land-use system that can provide sustainable sources of income and sustainable land cultivation, it could help address poverty and many national environmental concerns.”

ICRAF Vietnam recognizes the importance of establishing long-term relationships and collaboration with district and community organizations to enable the sustainable implementation of agroforestry. Agricultural and forestry extensionists or rural advisors are a key component of such relations. The visitors had the chance to speak with extensionists at the field sites to better understand their role as communicators of technical advice and guidance to, and between, farmers.

“Extensionists are clearly very valuable when it comes to building cohesion between the agricultural and forestry sectors,” commented Kinley Wangmo. “We learned that there were many different stakeholders, including experts, involved in the process of enabling agroforestry on the ground. Our visit to the field sites showed that agroforestry systems differ depending on the type of landscape and that the needs of farmers in those landscapes must always be prioritized.”

By Anoushka Carter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


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

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  • Corporate commitments to zero deforestation: An evaluation of externality problems and implementation gaps

Corporate commitments to zero deforestation: An evaluation of externality problems and implementation gaps

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This research critically examines implementation gaps and externality problems associated with the recent proliferation of zero deforestation commitments (ZDC) by large commodity producers. By developing and employing a hierarchical framework, we evaluate the policies and strategies of 50 leading ZDC adopters in high forest-risk commodity sectors (soy, oil palm, cattle and wood). The analysis shows that while most ZDC adopters formulated strong ZDCs, there is significant room for further refining implementation mechanisms. Specifically, it finds that weak commitment to full transparency, notably disclosure of sourcing locations and suppliers, and to independent verification, undermines ZDCs’ transformative potential and ability to hold companies accountable for failure to comply with their ZDCs. Our analysis also reveals that most sampled companies do not explicitly account for the socially detrimental externalities that their ZDCs threaten to produce. Where this is acknowledged, it is acknowledged implicitly through standing commitments to full voluntary certification, especially in the wood and oil palm sector. As a result, issues related to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and protection of high conservation value (HVC) ecosystems are comparatively well addressed by adopters, but challenges faced by smallholders, food security risks, and indirect land use change issues are only minimally accounted for. Our results suggest that for ZDCs to contribute meaningfully to inclusive and sustainable development potential, complementarities between private and public regulatory initiatives need to be better leveraged.


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