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  • FTA welcomes new Independent Steering Committee member Richard Muyungi

FTA welcomes new Independent Steering Committee member Richard Muyungi

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Thick vegetation grows along the banks of the Congo River. Photo by Ahtziri Gonzalez/CIFOR

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) has welcomed a new member of its Independent Steering Committee (ISC), a key component of the governance of the program.

With demonstrated pan-African policy and development knowledge, Richard Stanislaus Muyungi brings to the table extensive experience in environment and climate change over the past 25 years, with a particular focus on international environmental and climate policy and governance processes under the United Nations.

He joins four other continuing independent members of the ISC – chair Anne-Marie Isaac, Florencia Montagnini, Linda Collette and Susan Braatz – as well as lead center representative Robert Nasi, non-CGIAR centers representative René Boot, CGIAR centers representative Stephan Weise, and ex-officio member FTA Director Vincent Gitz.

Read also: The Independent Steering Committee (ISC) 

Muyungi was the founding chairman of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) in 2001 and the first chairman of the board of the Adaptation Fund Board in 2008, both of which continue to be important funds for enhancing climate resilience for local communities’ livelihoods and ensuring ecosystem sustainability in developing countries.

He was the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) between 2011 and 2013, responsible for overseeing scientific dialogue and inputs to support the implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation programs globally, including the translation of scientific information into policy actions and enhancing the role of the forestry sector in addressing climate change through REDD+.

Muyungi also has extensive experience working at a national level where he has managed programs and processes in the area of environment and climate change, including as director of environment in the Tanzanian Vice President’s Office.

At a continental level, he was a senior adviser to the chair of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change from 2013-2015, supporting high-level dialogues between African heads of state on environment and climate change issues in Africa, toward the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Read also: FTA names new Independent Steering Committee members 

More recently he was appointed to manage environment and climate change for the Tanzania National Electric Supply Company under the Ministry of Energy, to help address increasing environmental challenges in energy development and supply.

Muyungi holds a degree in agriculture from Sokoine University of Agriculture, a postgraduate diploma in international relations from Reggio Calabria International Relations Institute in Italy, a master’s degree in environmental protection and management from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and a PhD in climate change from the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

FTA welcomes the appointment of Muyungi as a pan-African policy and development expert to the ISC, which reports to the Board of Trustees (BoT) of FTA’s lead center, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The ISC oversees work of the FTA Management Team including research programming, partnership engagement, delivery and effectiveness of the program at a strategic level.

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  • Multi-level governance and power in climate change policy networks

Multi-level governance and power in climate change policy networks

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This article proposes an innovative theoretical framework that combines institutional and policy network approaches to study multi-level governance. The framework is used to derive a number of propositions on how cross-level power imbalances shape communication and collaboration across multiple levels of governance. The framework is then applied to examine the nature of cross-level interactions in climate change mitigation and adaptation policy processes in the land use sectors of Brazil and Indonesia. The paper identifies major barriers to cross-level communication and collaboration between national and sub-national levels. These are due to power imbalances across governance levels that reflect broader institutional differences between federal and decentralized systems of government. In addition, powerful communities operating predominantly at the national level hamper cross-level interactions. The analysis also reveals that engagement of national level actors is more extensive in the mitigation and that of local actors in the adaptation policy domain, and specialisation in one of the climate change responses at the national level hampers effective climate policy integration in the land use sector.

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  • Does the monitoring of local governance improve transparency? Lessons from three approaches in subnational jurisdictions

Does the monitoring of local governance improve transparency? Lessons from three approaches in subnational jurisdictions

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  • Subnational governments are key players in land and forest governance and are expected to meet demands for informed decision-making and transparency, particularly in the context of the emphasis on transparency in climate governance.
  • All three approaches reviewed are experiments in transparency, based on different understandings. The Sustainable Landscapes Rating Tool (SLRT) provides a comparative assessment of jurisdictions to be made publicly available; the Multilevel Governance Monitoring Process (MLGMP) aims to align interests and set targets around a landscape goal, through open, collective agreement; and the Participatory Governance Monitoring Process (PGMP) aims to provide collective reflection, creating transparency in opening male-dominated spaces to women’’s participation.
  • Monitoring governance can become a political tool through which to reflect on local priorities and open or strengthen spaces for discussion.
  • As both governance and transparency may be locally determined, monitoring tools and approaches should be developed with the participation of local stakeholders or be adaptable to their experiences and priorities.
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  • Multiple actors need to perform together on governing sustainable palm oil in Indonesia

Multiple actors need to perform together on governing sustainable palm oil in Indonesia

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Key players are seeing a moratorium on new oil palm concession permits in Indonesia as a significant step forward in improving governance in the sector.

During the three-year freeze, following Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s recent signing of the moratorium, the government will undertake a comprehensive nationwide review of oil palm licenses and develop efforts to enhance productivity – particularly for smallholders.

However, it remains to be seen whether the existing palm oil supply can be sustainable, and whether negative impacts on the environment can be reduced while the performance of smallholders linked to palm oil supply chains – who depend on the commodity for their livelihoods – is also improved.

Oil palms edge the forest in Sentabai, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Nanang Sujana/CIFOR

Research conducted at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) led by senior associate Pablo Pacheco is examining how public regulations and private standards can address major performance gaps affecting the palm oil sector. The study was focused on the world’s largest palm oil producer, Indonesia.

“We looked at how the current policy regime complex can address three major gaps, specifically land conflicts and yield differences between companies and smallholders and carbon emissions arising from deforestation and peatland conversion,” Pacheco said.

“We identified opportunities for more effective governance of the palm oil value chain and supply landscapes by analyzing disconnects, complementarities and antagonisms between public regulations and private standards across global, national and subnational levels,” he added.

The scientists concluded that greater complementarities have emerged among transnational mechanisms, but found also that disconnects persist and antagonisms prevail between national state regulations and transnational private standards.

To improve the sector’s governance and address performance gaps, there is a need to overcome these disconnects and take steps to reconcile the antagonisms.

“The solutions for addressing the performance gaps need to be looked at in an integrated way and through adopting a multi-level approach,” Pacheco said. “In addition, the solutions have to involve both public regulations and private initiatives and efforts.”

Read also: Implementing sustainability commitments for palm oil in Indonesia: Governance arrangements of sustainability initiatives involving public and private actors

Oil palm fruit is numbered after harvesting. Photo by Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

GROWING SECTOR, GROWING ISSUES

Palm oil is used in thousands of products from food to cosmetics, cleaning products and biodiesel. This has created a growing global demand for the golden liquid.

“There is not a single sector that has grown as rapidly as palm oil,” Pacheco said. “However, these unresolved performance issues continue to follow this expansion.”

One of the key issues is the land used to grow oil palm. Land conflicts are difficult to solve and despite efforts to formalize tenure rights, encroachment on public lands continues to grow. Smallholders often rely on informal transactions to access land.

Smallholders produce around 40 percent of Indonesia’s oil palm, but yields are still less than they could be due to limited access to finance and services.

“Smallholders are unable to adopt best management practices and the use of substandard planting material remains widespread,” said Pacheco.

Reducing carbon emissions in the oil palm sector has been hampered by current regulations that allow the use of forested or high carbon stock areas for plantations, combined with poor use of degraded and less productive areas.

“Many companies prefer to establish their plantations in peatlands and forestland because of the reduced likelihood of land conflicts and the potential to cover the cost of establishing a plantation by selling timber cleared for these plantations,” Pacheco said.

“The result has been a significant carbon debt,” he added.

Read also: The long and winding road to sustainable palm oil

MIND THE GAPS

In an effort to overcome the palm oil sector’s performance gaps, a very complex governance architecture has emerged that brings together governments and the private sector, as well as multistakeholder platforms.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is perhaps the best-known sustainability standard, and has been embraced by European Union-related sustainability initiatives. This is the most relevant complementarity which has helped to reach some agreed sustainability criteria.

Yet Indonesia and Malaysia have also devised their own sustainability standards – known as ISPO and MSPO – to counteract the influence of external players. Despite efforts to strengthen these mandatory standards, the scientists say it remains to be seen whether they are going to support zero-deforestation commitments embraced by main corporate groups.

Additionally, they say that greater impact could likely be achieved by building a process to harmonize the RSPO with these national standards.

Read also: Governing sustainable palm oil supply: Disconnects, complementarities, and antagonisms between state regulations and private standards

A woman fertilizes soil in an oil palm plantation. Photo by Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

FOLLOW THE DISCONNECTS

Pacheco says for the palm oil sector to improve its performance, it is crucial to look at the implications and opportunities associated with the national fiscal incentives system, including those related to the use of the crude CPO Fund.

“For example, these funds should more actively link incentives for companies engaging in biodiesel supply with purchases from smallholders on condition they adhere to sustainability criteria,” he said, adding that this approach would help improve the environmental performance of smallholders while supporting the sustainable supply of palm oil for the domestic biodiesel market.

Another major disconnect is related to the fact that land regularization initiatives do not necessarily go hand-by-hand with those aiming at support sustainable palm oil supply, and improve the wellbeing of smallholders. This is a major bottleneck to overcome.

“Government efforts to implement agrarian reform along with social forestry to benefit local communities have not been fully effective in resolving these issues,” said Heru Komarudin, a researcher with CIFOR.

Another disconnect is linked to land use regulations. More and more buyers are looking for No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) – suppliers, but critics say that although companies may have the policy in place, they do not always put those policies into action.

In some cases, laws and regulations do not support companies that opt to conserve areas with high carbon stock or high conservation value, Komarudin said.

“These areas are often seen as unused lands and are at risk of being taken over by the government, and used for new plantations, instead of being protected from local people who may try to encroach on these areas,” he added.

More and more local governments are also adopting policies to protect high conservation value forests, and governments have started to adopt essential ecosystem area principles although no legally-binding rules are in place yet.

MOVING FORWARD

The researchers note that different “experimentalist approaches” are emerging that address disconnects and antagonisms, while further exploiting existing complementarities.

These approaches are increasingly orchestrated by provincial level governors and facilitated by non-governmental organizations, which often tend to operate as intermediaries.

“There’s no silver bullet, no single solution. It’s clear we need an integrated approach to effectively govern the palm oil sector, one where all actors play key roles,” Pacheco said.

 

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Pablo Pacheco at [email protected] or Heru Komarudin at [email protected].


This research is supported by the United States Agency for International Development and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

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

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  • Governing sustainable palm oil supply: Disconnects, complementarities, and antagonisms between state regulations and private standards

Governing sustainable palm oil supply: Disconnects, complementarities, and antagonisms between state regulations and private standards

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The global palm oil value chain has grown in complexity; stakeholder relationships and linkages are increasingly shaped by new public and private standards that aim to ameliorate social and environmental costs while harnessing economic gains. Regulatory initiatives in the emerging policy regime complex struggle to resolve sector-wide structural performance issues: pervasive land conflicts, yield differences between companies and smallholders, and carbon emissions arising from deforestation and peatland conversion. Identifying opportunities for more effective governance of the palm oil value chain and supply landscapes, this paper explores disconnects, complementarities, and antagonisms between public regulations and private standards, looking at the global, national, and subnational policy domains shaping chain actors’ conduct. Greater complementarities have emerged among transnational instruments, but state regulation disconnects persist and antagonisms prevail between national state regulations and transnational private standards. Emerging experimental approaches, particularly at subnational level, aim to improve coordination to both enhance complementarities and resolve disconnects.

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  • Special issue looks at forest governance interventions to promote sustainability

Special issue looks at forest governance interventions to promote sustainability

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A Brazil nut producer looks up into the trees in Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by Yoly Gutierrez/CIFOR

What can 19 reviews assessing 1,200 research articles spanning over 3 billion hectares of land show about what works in forest governance interventions to promote sustainability?

It is widely agreed that effective governance is key to building and securing sustainability in forested areas, but the jury is still out over what that actually looks like.

There are “literally scores of different governance methods that people have tried to get improved outcomes,” according to Arun Agrawal, a professor at the University of Michigan.

“We don’t have a very good sense of which interventions work well, when they work well, and why they work well,” added Agrawal, a contributing editor on a new special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (COSUST).

Each of 19 reviews in the journal aims to assess the degree of effectiveness of the environmental governance strategy they focus on, and the level of confidence information available. These interventions include, among others, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), protected areas, community forests, concessions, tree plantation, forests under certification, private acquisition of land for conservation, and sustainable intensification.

Read the article: What is REDD+ achieving on the ground?

CRITICAL FACTORS

The issue provided an opportunity to explore commonalities among the different kinds of interventions – of which there were more than expected, Agrawal said. “Very often we think of these interventions as being quite different from each other, but when we look at what’s associated with the success of these interventions, we find there are a common set of factors.”

As such, in the issue’s introduction, the editors identify four criteria as critical to constructing effective governance for sustainability.

Collaborative relationships between different actors and decision makers is “central,” Agrawal said. Supportive policies, adaptive management, and responsive macro-institutional frameworks are also important.

“It’s so important to look at what is going on as things are being implemented, and learn from the intervention while it’s unfolding – not coming into the process with a fixed blueprint in your mind, but being willing to adapt while you’re implementing the intervention,” he said.

As such, clear monitoring systems and performance indicators are critical. It is also key to integrate learning from different kinds of evidence, and from overlapping interventions.

“Often it was not a single intervention that by itself led to positive outcomes, but it was effective in combination with others,” he said.

What does this mean for practitioners? “It’s not that everybody should follow the same template,” Arawal cautioned. “But keeping these factors in mind when you’re trying new things could well lead to better outcomes.”

Read also: CIFOR now hosts comprehensive REDD+ tool ID-RECCO

A converted agricultural area is seen in Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by Yoly Gutierrez/CIFOR

THREE ‘I’S OF ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE

 The editors also identify three fundamental means for designing governance interventions related to natural resources: information, incentives, and institutions. In some interventions, actors managing or relying on forests use information to shape outcomes, assuming that with greater awareness, unsustainable behaviors may change.

For example, informing consumers about sustainably-harvested timber and zero-deforestation palm oil – and the degradation and conflict associated with their alternatives – is intended to influence buying behavior, thus increasing demand for sustainably produced commodities and prompting producer shifts towards practices and standards that align with these goals.

Another way of designing interventions is to recognize the cost of adopting more sustainable behavior, and thus provide incentives that aim to absorb this extra cost, and in so doing, enable the behaviors they are seeking to promote. This is the philosophy behind programs like REDD+ and other payments for ecosystem services (PES) approaches. Alternatively, interventions may use institutional change to impose costs and sanctions on people enacting unsustainable behaviors. For example, government agencies may enact fines or prison sentences on those caught cutting down trees in protected areas.

In reality, most forest governance interventions use a combination of all three methods, although with different amounts of emphasis on each.

In one of the review articles led by CIFOR scientist, Amy Duchelle it is clear that while REDD+ programs are centered on incentives, in practice they involve a “customized basket of integrated interventions,” which also require information-sharing and institutional change to promote behaviors that help restore degraded areas and keep forests standing.

Arawal and his colleagues hoped initially to be able to make quantitative claims about the number of hectares successfully protected through each kind of intervention. But given that each situation requires its own bespoke mix of interventions, evaluating impact at wider scales is extremely challenging. What’s more, the reviewers found that in most cases the data that exists is too “patchy” to make generic claims, Agrawal said — a serious concern given the pressing nature of the work involved.

For example, in the REDD+ review, Duchelle was “surprised by the lack of studies on the forest and land use outcomes of REDD+, as well as the rare use of counterfactual approaches to evaluate impacts of any kind.” She and her co-authors concluded that “recent research has not yet measured up to the importance of REDD+ in terms of scope, depth, and analytic sophistication,” and stressed that “as forest-rich countries refine their climate action plans post 2020, there is an urgent need for more reliable evidence on the impacts of REDD+ to date to guide their choices.”

By Monica Evans, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Amy Duchelle at [email protected] or Arun Agrawal at [email protected].


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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  • Governing Forest Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Environmental Governance

Governing Forest Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Environmental Governance

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Governing forest ecosystem services as a forest socioecological system is an evolving concept in the face of different environmental and social challenges. Therefore, different modes of ecosystem governance such as hierarchical, scientific–technical, and adaptive-collaborative governance have been developed. Although each form of governance offers important features, no one form on its own is sufficient to attain sustainable environmental governance (SEG). Thus, the blending of important features of each mode of governance could contribute to SEG, through a combination of both hierarchical and collaborative governance systems supported by scientifically and technically aided knowledge. This should be further reinforced by the broad engagement of stakeholders to ensure the improved well-being of both ecosystems and humans. Some form of governance and forest management measures, including sustainable forest management, forest certification, and payment for ecosystem services mechanisms, are also contributing to that end. While issues around commodification and putting a price on nature are still contested due to the complex relationship between different services, if these limitations are taken into account, the governance of forest ecosystem services will serve as a means of effective environmental governance and the sustainable management of forest resources. Therefore, forest ecosystem services governance has a promising future for SEG, provided limitations are tackled with due care in future governance endeavors.

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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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  • Informal, traditional and semiformal property rights should be fully acknowledged, panel agrees 

Informal, traditional and semiformal property rights should be fully acknowledged, panel agrees 

A father and child are pictures in a garden in Colombia. Photo by Augusto Riveros/TBI
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A father and child are pictured in a garden in Colombia. Photo by Augusto Riveros

LANDac, the Netherlands Academy on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development, held its annual international conference on June 28-29 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Titled “Land governance and (im)mobility”, the conference explored the nexus between land acquisition, displacement and migration.

On the second day of the event, the wide range of parallel sessions included “‘Good Enough Tenure’ in Sustainable Forest and Land Management”, organized by Tropenbos International (TBI), in collaboration with the universities of Wageningen, Freiburg, Campinas and Kyoto, Kadaster Internationaal, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

The session discussed the practical implications of the increasing evidence from research and experiences in different parts of the world on the value and scope of so-called ‘good enough tenure’ arrangements for international and national policymakers and investors.

The main message that emerged from the panel session was that all players need to think beyond formal land regularization to provide enabling conditions for smallholders to secure property rights and incentives for investment.

A lack of formally recognized land and resource property has always been a constraint for small-scale farmers and forest communities. Mainstream land governance focusses largely on tenure regularization as a means to provide security. Smallholders without such formal tenure tend to be excluded from external funding streams, because banks, other private investors, governmental agencies and even some donors often require land titles as collateral to mitigate the risk of default from failed investment.

As a result, these actors have not been able to deal effectively with the mobility and the complex local reality, including the local needs and opportunities that exist in rural and forest areas in tropical countries.

The four panelists – Marieke van der Zon of Wageningen University, Kyoto University and TBI; Peter Cronkleton of CIFOR; Bastian Reydon of Universidade Estadual de Campinas’ Land Governance Group; and Benno Pokorny of University Freiburg – provided hands-on examples from Latin America, providing evidence that there is a variety of formal, informal and semiformal tenure situations and arrangements in these areas.

In many cases these informal, traditional and semiformal property rights are considered good enough for social and economic development and for conservation, as they are respected, upheld and protected by strong local institutions. These good-enough tenure right arrangements should be fully acknowledged as a valuable “local institutional capital” for making trustful and secure arrangements between local smallholders and external actors to engage, to invest and collaborate on a reciprocal basis.

They must therefore play a much more prominent starting point in promoting sustainable, inclusive and equitable development, with the panelists emphasizing the need to understand the local specificity of arrangements, advocating a “fit-for-purpose and place” approach.

Read the panelists’ abstracts: 

View the presentations from the session:

Adapted from the article first published by Tropenbos International. 


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