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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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  • What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

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A community member hold a tree product as part of the Kanoppi project in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR

Scientists in Indonesia are demonstrating how better business opportunities for local communities can help foster and reinforce sustainable forest management.

As the world marks International Day of Forests on March 21, the benefits of reforestation and forest restoration are rightly lauded. In success stories of the past, local communities have often been cast as the heroes of sustainable forestry, while private sector businesses have been portrayed as villains. But what if that’s not the whole story?

The Kanoppi project, which launched in 2013 and has now entered its second phase, concentrates on the expansion of market-based agroforestry and the development of integrated landscape management in the poorest provinces of eastern Indonesia and the country’s most densely-populated island of Java.

The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by scientists from the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Murdoch University in collaboration with other project partners.

Read also: New children’s book teaches the sustainable traditions of West Timorese honey hunters

Missing link

For many generations, communities living in Indonesia have relied on forests to supplement the food and income they reap from farming. Yet, despite the riches of the forests, poverty is still widespread. Some rural households living in the Kanoppi project’s pilot sites in eastern Indonesia earn around US$210 a year.

Part of the challenge is a lack of integration and linkages between community groups producing timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP) and the private sector. Conflicting, confusing and changeable public policies also do not help.

“For example, some communities will plant small teak plantations as a kind of savings account, but most don’t know how to get the permits required to harvest and transport the timber,” explained Ani Adiwinata Nawir, policy scientist with CIFOR. “This means that communities do not harvest as much teak as they could and that they can’t convert their timber into cash when needed.”

Strengthening value chains has become a key focus for Kanoppi, so that farmers can capture more value from their agroforestry production. This, however, requires sustained efforts at multiple levels, including promoting better practices on the ground to increase productivity and profitability, developing markets and private sector engagement, and facilitating supportive policies and institutions.

People work together in a paddy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Protecting the forest

One example of how to turn traditional community practices into a successful business venture comes from the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor. Here, communities come together every year to harvest wild forest honey. The task is dangerous – men scale trees of up to 80 meters to collect the honey by hand – but it is also sustainable because it does not require cutting down trees.

The honey supplements local diets, and there is enough left over to sell. In fact, as much as 30 tons of wild honey is produced and harvested in Mt. Mutis annually, accounting for 25 percent of total production in the province. Working collaboratively with WWF Indonesia – which is one of the project’s NGO partners along with others like Threads of Life – Kanoppi has helped brand and package the honey, which is now sold as “Mt. Mutis honey” and sold to neighboring islands.

Similarly on Sumbawa island, this commercial success is good news for communities and for the forest: Because the continued honey production hinges on a healthy ecosystem, people have a strong economic incentive to preserve and protect the forest.

That’s the underlying logic of the whole project. When communities can successfully market and sell sustainable products, their incentive to continue sustainable forestry practices grows, which in turn increases productivity, profitability and incomes.

“We want to reinforce this virtuous cycle where business opportunities foster sustainable forestry,” said Aulia Perdana, a marketing specialist with ICRAF. “That’s why we try to involve the private sector – for example in the village learning centers we’ve established in project sites – so that communities can better connect with the market.”

Other efforts to promote sustainable and profitable agroforestry production include using voluntary extensionists, meaning that the people who first adopt a new technology help spread those innovations to other members of the community. Eleven on-farm demonstration trials have already been established, and 40 more are planned for 2019. Kanoppi has also published manuals, journal articles, videos and a picture book to promote its methodology.

Read the picture book: Secrets of the Mutis Honey Hunters

Landscape perspective

Given the project’s success with marketing the sustainably produced honey from Mt. Mutis, the local district administration has adapted its strategy on integrated landscape-level management of NTFP to give greater weight to communities’ customary practices. This is an important first step toward establishing policy support elsewhere in the country.

Honeycomb drains through a nylon filter in Indonesia. Photo by S. Purnama Sarie/ICRAF

One challenge has been that past planning and policies have separately focused on different sectors, such as small farms in forestry and target-oriented cash crop production led by other sectors – not considering opportunities for synergies or problematic overlaps. Kanoppi has departed from that approach.

“We talk about integrated landscape management, which essentially is about harmonizing the different land uses along the watershed from upstream to downstream, so that farms, plantations, forests and many other kinds of activities coexist and reinforce each other,” said Ani.

“The landscape perspective helps everyone – communities, businesses and authorities – see what kind of production fits where in the landscape, in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.”

Kanoppi is a clear example of how combining the expertise and experience of CIFOR and ICRAF scientists makes for a strong response to development and sustainability challenges in forested landscapes – among the many reasons why the two institutions recently announced a merger.

In Indonesia, Ani, Perdana and their colleagues will continue their work to develop inclusive, sustainable business models that generate a fair return – specifically focusing on scaling-up the adoption of improved production practices and value chains to benefit smallholder livelihoods through landscape-scale management of the farm-forest interface – for communities and for forests.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

A community member holds a tree product as part of the Kanoppi project in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Scientists in Indonesia are demonstrating how better business opportunities for local communities can help foster and reinforce sustainable forest management.

As the world marks International Day of Forests on March 21, the benefits of reforestation and forest restoration are rightly lauded. In success stories of the past, local communities have often been cast as the heroes of sustainable forestry, while private sector businesses have been portrayed as villains. But what if that’s not the whole story?

The Kanoppi project, which launched in 2013 and has now entered its second phase, concentrates on the expansion of market-based agroforestry and the development of integrated landscape management in the poorest provinces of eastern Indonesia and the country’s most densely-populated island of Java.

The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by scientists from the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Murdoch University in collaboration with other project partners.

Read also: New children’s book teaches the sustainable traditions of West Timorese honey hunters

Missing link

For many generations, communities living in Indonesia have relied on forests to supplement the food and income they reap from farming. Yet, despite the riches of the forests, poverty is still widespread. Some rural households living in the Kanoppi project’s pilot sites in eastern Indonesia earn around US$210 a year.

Part of the challenge is a lack of integration and linkages between community groups producing timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP) and the private sector. Conflicting, confusing and changeable public policies also do not help.

“For example, some communities will plant small teak plantations as a kind of savings account, but most don’t know how to get the permits required to harvest and transport the timber,” explained Ani Adiwinata Nawir, policy scientist with CIFOR. “This means that communities do not harvest as much teak as they could and that they can’t convert their timber into cash when needed.”

Strengthening value chains has become a key focus for Kanoppi, so that farmers can capture more value from their agroforestry production. This, however, requires sustained efforts at multiple levels, including promoting better practices on the ground to increase productivity and profitability, developing markets and private sector engagement, and facilitating supportive policies and institutions.

People work together in a paddy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Protecting the forest

One example of how to turn traditional community practices into a successful business venture comes from the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor. Here, communities come together every year to harvest wild forest honey. The task is dangerous – men scale trees of up to 80 meters to collect the honey by hand – but it is also sustainable because it does not require cutting down trees.

The honey supplements local diets, and there is enough left over to sell. In fact, as much as 30 tons of wild honey is produced and harvested in Mt. Mutis annually, accounting for 25 percent of total production in the province. Working collaboratively with WWF Indonesia – which is one of the project’s NGO partners along with others like Threads of Life – Kanoppi has helped brand and package the honey, which is now sold as “Mt. Mutis honey” and sold to neighboring islands.

Similarly on Sumbawa island, this commercial success is good news for communities and for the forest: Because the continued honey production hinges on a healthy ecosystem, people have a strong economic incentive to preserve and protect the forest.

That’s the underlying logic of the whole project. When communities can successfully market and sell sustainable products, their incentive to continue sustainable forestry practices grows, which in turn increases productivity, profitability and incomes.

“We want to reinforce this virtuous cycle where business opportunities foster sustainable forestry,” said Aulia Perdana, a marketing specialist with ICRAF. “That’s why we try to involve the private sector – for example in the village learning centers we’ve established in project sites – so that communities can better connect with the market.”

Other efforts to promote sustainable and profitable agroforestry production include using voluntary extensionists, meaning that the people who first adopt a new technology help spread those innovations to other members of the community. Eleven on-farm demonstration trials have already been established, and 40 more are planned for 2019. Kanoppi has also published manuals, journal articles, videos and a picture book to promote its methodology.

Read the picture book: Secrets of the Mutis Honey Hunters

Landscape perspective

Given the project’s success with marketing the sustainably produced honey from Mt. Mutis, the local district administration has adapted its strategy on integrated landscape-level management of NTFP to give greater weight to communities’ customary practices. This is an important first step toward establishing policy support elsewhere in the country.

Honeycomb drains through a nylon filter in Indonesia. Photo by S. Purnama Sarie/ICRAF

One challenge has been that past planning and policies have separately focused on different sectors, such as small farms in forestry and target-oriented cash crop production led by other sectors – not considering opportunities for synergies or problematic overlaps. Kanoppi has departed from that approach.

“We talk about integrated landscape management, which essentially is about harmonizing the different land uses along the watershed from upstream to downstream, so that farms, plantations, forests and many other kinds of activities coexist and reinforce each other,” said Ani.

“The landscape perspective helps everyone – communities, businesses and authorities – see what kind of production fits where in the landscape, in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.”

Kanoppi is a clear example of how combining the expertise and experience of CIFOR and ICRAF scientists makes for a strong response to development and sustainability challenges in forested landscapes – among the many reasons why the two institutions recently announced a merger.

In Indonesia, Ani, Perdana and their colleagues will continue their work to develop inclusive, sustainable business models that generate a fair return – specifically focusing on scaling-up the adoption of improved production practices and value chains to benefit smallholder livelihoods through landscape-scale management of the farm-forest interface – for communities and for forests.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Addressing equity in community forestry: lessons from 20 years of implementation in Cameroon

Addressing equity in community forestry: lessons from 20 years of implementation in Cameroon

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A community forestry approach was adopted by Cameroon as a strategy to promote the sustainable management of forests, participation by local communities in forest management, and poverty alleviation. However, results have been moderate and community forestry has largely failed in achieving its initial goals. Our work, based on existing literature, uses the three inter-related dimensions of equity: distributive, procedural, and contextual to highlight the main equity challenges encountered in implementing the community forestry approach over the past 20 years in Cameroon. The main constraints to distributive equity identified include: the absence of clear benefit-sharing mechanisms and rents capture by elites, insecure tenure, and limited use rights of forest resources. Regarding the procedural dimension, we observed an exclusion of vulnerable groups, especially women, and a lack of information flow and transparency in decision-making processes. Finally, for contextual equity, the main constraints are unfair laws and regulations that give more advantages to the state and logging companies than to the local population. Moreover, poor community capacities and high transaction costs in the process of obtaining and exploiting community forests are additional constraints to contextual equity. The authors recommend a few measures to improve community forestry contribution to socioeconomic development, equity in benefit sharing, and sustainable management of forest resources. These include the need: (1) to promote transparency in community forests management with fair and gender-based policies that consider socioeconomic differences existing within and between forest communities; (2) to strengthen local community members financial and technical capacities and increase their representation and participation in decision-making structures; and (3) to set up mechanisms that guarantee existing policies are fully implemented.

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  • Gender aspects in action- and outcome-based payments for ecosystem services — A tree planting field trial in Kenya

Gender aspects in action- and outcome-based payments for ecosystem services — A tree planting field trial in Kenya

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Payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes have been increasingly implemented in developing countries where gender-related inequalities are generally prevalent. A randomized field trial in Kenya revealed the impacts of participants’ gender in conservation auctions and in environmental performance of action- and outcome-based PES schemes and provided evidence for associations between the gender effects and traditional gender roles. First, we identified differences between men and women in the utilities of the contract and relative risk aversion as potential drivers of the decrease in bids by women compared to men in the auction for action-based contracts. Second, we observed a gender-specific difference in perceptions of risk in the outcome-based approach when women increased their bids. Third, women achieved lower tree survival than men, despite women providing more effort. In this context, we identified the inequality in reciprocal labor for male and female contract holders as a possible source of the gendered tree survival. This case study showed that targeting women improves gender equity in terms of access to project decision-making, trainings and cash, and can significantly improve the effectiveness of the PES scheme.

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  • Contrasting land use systems influence soil seed bank composition and density in a rural landscape mosaic in West Africa

Contrasting land use systems influence soil seed bank composition and density in a rural landscape mosaic in West Africa

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Soil seed banks (SSBs) play a key role in the post-disturbance recruitment of many plant species. Seed bank diversity can be influenced by spatial and environmental variability and disturbance heterogeneity across the landscape. Understanding the recovery potential of native vegetation from SSBs is important for restoration and biodiversity conservation. Yet, in savanna-woodland, little is known about how SSBs vary in their germination, composition and density under different land uses, and how SSBs relate to aboveground vegetation (AGV). Using a sampling design based on the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework, we assessed the SSB and AGV in twelve 0.25?ha plots among sixteen in four contrasting land use systems of savanna-woodland in Burkina Faso: bushland, cultivated farmland, fallow and wetland. A total of 720 soil samples were taken from four stratified depths of 0–5?cm, >5–10?cm, >10–15?cm, and >15–20?cm. The SSB composition and richness was determined by the seedling emergence technique. Results showed that the SSB in all land uses was largely dominated by annual grasses with few perennial herbaceous and woody species. Seed density was highest in the fallow soil and highest in the upper soil layers for all land uses. A non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination of the SSB and AGV indicated that the SSBs were a poor reflection of the AGV. Based on these findings, spatial variations in landscape characteristics not only influence seed distribution and viability but also have the potential to influence population persistence. These results imply that successful restoration of fragmented ecosystems requires the addition of seeds and seedlings of target species.

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  • Can research be transformative? Challenging gender norms around trees and land restoration in West Africa

Can research be transformative? Challenging gender norms around trees and land restoration in West Africa

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Gloria Adeyiga (left), Ana Maria Paez (centre) and Emilie Smith Dumont present research findings to the community of Gwenia, northern Ghana. Photo by ICRAF

Trees are important sources of income for many women in the drylands of West Africa, yet women often have little say in decisions about how land and trees are managed or how household income is used.

This story reports on a series of community workshops organized by the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) project, which set out to explore gender inequity and what might be done to change things for the better.

Community members listened with rapt attention as research findings about differences in sources of household income and decision-making powers among men and women were presented in graphs drawn on large sheets of paper. There was a lot of interesting material to digest and to discuss. The results showed large variations in access to assets and resources among men and women, and some strong imbalances in how decisions are made within households.

WAFFI is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). 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.

Read also: Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

At one workshop, fifteen women and eight men from the village of Gwenia in Kassena-Nankana West District in Ghana’s Upper East Region, ranging in age from late teens to early 80s, gathered in the women’s community center. Facilitating the activities were Gloria Adeyiga of the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez Valencia and Emilie Smith Dumont, who has coordinated the WAFFI project in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso for ICRAF.

This is a region where diminishing tree resources, land degradation and climate change have increased women’s vulnerability, while restrictive sociocultural norms offer limited opportunities for women to participate in, and benefit from, landscape restoration or agroforestry initiatives. ICRAF scientists think that addressing gender inequity is key to unlocking women’s potential to make livelihoods and landscapes more productive and resilient.

In Gwenia, Adeyiga and Smith Dumont presented findings from their innovative participatory research that explored wealth variations within, and across, communities. Interviews had been conducted simultaneously with the male family head and one adult female in 36 households.

Tree dependence is high in the region, so income from tree resources was of particular interest. The data showed that while women are involved in all farm and livestock activities, they depend heavily on trees for cash income that they can control; a quarter of women bring in more than 40% of household income from tree products.

Read more: Farmers’ knowledge of soil quality indicators along a land degradation gradient in Rwanda.  

The main tree products in the area are shea nuts (Vitellaria paradoxa), charcoal, firewood, baobab fruit (Adansonia digitate), shea butter processed from the nuts, and tamarind.

For women, shea nuts are extremely important. More than half of the households surveyed receive income from the nuts, nearly all of it controlled by women. In households where income comes from firewood and shea butter, most of the income is controlled by women.

Baobab and tamarind (Tamarindus indica) are also income sources exclusively for women. But, where charcoal contributes income, as it does in more than 30% of households, women receive only a very small share of it. Of immediate concern is that shea trees are now the most common source of wood for charcoal making, so a key resource for women is being diminished by the male-dominated charcoal trade.

While tree resources in the area are decreasing because of growing pressure on them for charcoal, clearing for agricultural land, and uncontrolled bush fires, men are becoming increasingly interested in shea, as global markets expand for the precious butter and nuts, used as a cocoa-butter substitute in food, and also in cosmetic products.

When it comes to farm size and access to land, there are also marked gender differences. On average, women cultivate less than half a hectare and men more than four times that much. In 40% of the households, women have no access to land to cultivate themselves. Men make the decisions about how much land is allocated to women.

Participants in Gwenia discuss where to place photos illustrating household duties based on gender norms in the community. Photo by ICRAF

There are variations in cash income between men and women and from one household to the next. On average, almost half of household income comes from crops, mostly from men’s farming, and a third from livestock. But this is not always the case: in some households all of the crop income comes from women. Importantly, as Smith Dumont and Adeyiga reported to the workshop in Gwenia, their research showed that men make most of the decisions on how household income is used.

At the end of the presentation, community members were asked if they were surprised by the gender imbalances the data revealed. One participant, Stephen Adayira, said he was surprised to see the amount of income that women contributed to the household, and that women did so much to support the household.

“Men thought they were doing that,” he said.

Read also: Implications of variation in local perception of degradation and restoration processes for implementing land degradation neutrality

Transforming gender norms

This was not the only time during the workshop that there was surprise expressed about the extent of gender inequity in the community.

In another exercise, participants were given photographs illustrating various household and farm duties, from ploughing fields, to washing clothes or sweeping a compound, to processing seeds from Parkia biglobosa trees to make the condiment dawadawa. They then allocated the photographs to either male, mainly male, mainly female or exclusively female categories that were marked on a sheet of paper, based on who generally performed the tasks.

The placement of the photos revealed that women had far more household responsibilities than men. Asked whether they thought this gender imbalance was creating problems, some female participants responded that it was indeed a problem, and that women ‘age faster’ and ‘get sick more often’ than men.

Participants agreed that there could be more balance in household duties and that a few of the all-female chores — such as washing up and cooking, for example — could readily be shared by men.

The village-level gender workshop was the first of two held under the WAFFI project, the second being in the community of Séloghin in the Nobéré Department of southern Burkina Faso. Both revealed similar gender imbalances and responses from male and female participants. But there was also agreement that things have changed since the time of their grandparents. Men have been assuming a few more previously female responsibilities, women have taken up more farming duties and now have more freedom to speak their minds in public than in the past.

The workshops also included role plays, where women dressed up as men and assumed their roles in making decisions on tree-planting, use of income and in household chores, while men acted as women. These allowed both men and women to challenge gender norms and provoke a great deal of laughter and discussion in both communities. ICRAF scientists think that building these activities into development programs might lead men and women to change their behavior.

Some of the remarks were very telling.

In Séloghin, one young man admitted that playing a woman for him was ‘tiring’ and that he felt ‘shamed’ by the need to listen to a domineering husband.

Bibata Ouedraogo said she enjoyed playing a man.

“It is very interesting being head of the household,” she said. “Even if you don’t tell the truth, you have the power.”

“This will make us change our daily lives,” commented another woman.

Can gender transformative research lead to better restoration outcomes?

Shea butter. Photo by ICRAF

The findings from the WAFFI project, including during these participatory activities, suggest that efforts aimed at land restoration and increased resilience in Sahelian countries will be more successful if they can do something to change gender norms that restrict women’s participation in decision making and undervalue their roles in the landscape and in livelihood systems.

This mirrors recent work in East Africa, showing the importance of differences in how women and men view degradation status across their landscapes and the appropriateness of different restoration options.

“I think these workshops initiated a dialogue in the communities around how gender norms and roles, which usually go unquestioned, may be limiting people from making the best use of the resources they have available,” says ICRAF’s Ana Maria Paez Valencia.

“This dialogue helps them realize these norms can change, to improve their wellbeing and resilience.”

“Tackling harmful gender stereotypes and gaps cannot be considered as an accessory to technical interventions, it is a critical requirement to achieve sustainable outcomes,” says Emilie Smith Dumont.

Gloria Adeyiga was so struck by the potential for transformative change that she now wants to focus her PhD research on the extent to which including gender transformative activities in scaling up agroforestry in the Regreening Africa program can change outcomes, in terms of what tree species are planted and retained in fields, how much income is generated and how it is used to improve the livelihoods of men, women and children in northern Ghana. This is made possible by support from FTA’s Flagship 2.

Edward Akunyagra of World Vision, who coordinates the regreening program in Ghana, said that the WAFFI research has highlighted the need to “develop approaches that integrate gender analysis and participatory methods in ways that support community dialogues around sensitive issues like gender inequity, leading to transformative outcomes and impact.”

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.

For more information, please contact ICRAF’s Ana Maria Paez Valencia at [email protected]

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  • Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

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Parkland in Ghana. Photo by ICRAF

Participants in a recent workshop have called for more trees to restore landscapes and improve livelihoods in northern Ghana.

“There is an urgent need in northern Ghana for metro, municipal and district assemblies, NGOs and civil society organizations to act immediately to address issues such as land tenure, bush fires, indiscriminate tree cutting, and a lack of financial resources, so that we increase tree cover and improve land health and livelihoods. This is our call to action.”

So reads the powerful declaration from a workshop in Bolgatanga, capital of Ghana’s Upper East Region. The unanimity of the participants in issuing their urgent call for action to expand the scale of land restoration for the regreening of northern Ghana and beyond was surprising, and very encouraging, given the diversity of their occupations and backgrounds.

The nearly 40 people who gathered to explore practices and policies that could encourage more trees in landscapes so as to reverse land degradation and improve livelihoods and food security, included leading farmers and extension officers from three districts — Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane — as well as representatives of Catholic Relief Services, Tree Aid and World Vision, and researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The participants identified the many benefits of increasing trees and forests in landscapes, such as the conservation of soil and water and the important economic, medicinal and nutritional value of indigenous species.

They also examined the complex constraints — cultural, climatic, legal, gender — that confront everyone working to improve the management of agricultural, pastoral and forest land in the region, including tree-planting activities that do not take into account the importance of species, context, management and timing.

Along with the call to action, the workshop produced a series of recommendations for policies and actions to improve tree cover, forests and land health in the three districts, including new laws to prevent indiscriminate tree-cutting, analyses and mapping of soils in the communities, and more emphasis on agroforestry systems with indigenous trees and crops.

The workshop was convened by two projects: West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by CIFOR and implemented by ICRAF in Ghana and Burkina Faso; and the five-year- Regreening Africa, funded by the European Union, in which ICRAF is a leading partner.

Shea nuts. Photo by ICRAF

With such a diverse group of people, discussions naturally ranged widely, covering many of the issues that afflicted the region.
For example, Thomas Addaoh, CIFOR field coordinator of WAFFI Ghana, noted that the demand for charcoal in urban centres in northern Ghana is resulting in the widespread harvesting of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) for their wood as a source of the fuel. Research undertaken for WAFFI found that more than a quarter of the charcoal in the region was derived from shea, making it the most common source of wood for the widely-used fuel.

Shea is also a vital source of income for women, who sell the shea nuts, which produce a quality oil with a growing global market because of its use in cosmetics and as a cocoa butter substitute in food, or process them into shea butter for local use. The cutting of shea trees for charcoal production, Addaoh said, meant female harvesters and sellers of the shea nuts were competing with male harvesters and vendors of the wood, something that requires urgent attention to ensure sustainable management of the fuel-and-oil resource and equitably meet the income needs of households.

More generally, Edward Akunyagra of World Vision, the project manager of Regreening Africa in Ghana, said that the project is working to reverse the loss of trees, aiming to influence policy and mindsets through an advocacy campaign.

According to the Upper East regional director of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Francis Ennor, who attended the workshop along with three district directors from the ministry, land degradation and loss of tree cover in the region are ‘extremely serious’. Rampant bush fires destroy groundcover and trees, and expose the soil to the weather, such as heavy rain and wind, which leads to erosion and loss of fertility.

However, Ennor said the workshop was addressing his concerns and he hoped that from now on local authorities would take tree management and planting very seriously and that every community would have a land-use plan to increase tree cover.
Such land-use plans, Ennor said, could designate degraded areas for restoration through farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). This could create community forests, such as the one supported by World Vision Australia that the workshop participants had visited the previous day in Saaka Aneogo.

Ennor argued that there is a need for policies to protect such community forests and make their management sustainable and less vulnerable because of insecure land tenure. This is a prerequisite for increasing the scale of FMNR and encouraging planting to increase tree cover in croplands and across whole landscapes.

Indeed, the purpose of the workshop, according to ICRAF’s Emilie Smith Dumont, was to bring together a range of people working for transformation of the Upper East Region to examine ways to ‘create synergies for resilient livelihoods’. Smith Dumont coordinates the WAFFI project in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and also acts as a focal point for Regreening Africa in Ghana.

“We have many projects in the northern belt,” Smith Dumont said. “Some are working in silos, so today we are trying to bring all those people together to share lessons and promote action.”

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


For more information, please contact Emilie Smith Dumont at [email protected]

The West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. 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.

WAFFI is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. 

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.

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  • Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

Momentum builds to expand scale of land restoration for regreening of northern Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Parkland in Ghana. Photo by ICRAF

Participants in a recent workshop have called for more trees to restore landscapes and improve livelihoods in northern Ghana.

“There is an urgent need in northern Ghana for metro, municipal and district assemblies, NGOs and civil society organizations to act immediately to address issues such as land tenure, bush fires, indiscriminate tree cutting, and a lack of financial resources, so that we increase tree cover and improve land health and livelihoods. This is our call to action.”

So reads the powerful declaration from a workshop in Bolgatanga, capital of Ghana’s Upper East Region. The unanimity of the participants in issuing their urgent call for action to expand the scale of land restoration for the regreening of northern Ghana and beyond was surprising, and very encouraging, given the diversity of their occupations and backgrounds.

The nearly 40 people who gathered to explore practices and policies that could encourage more trees in landscapes so as to reverse land degradation and improve livelihoods and food security, included leading farmers and extension officers from three districts — Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane — as well as representatives of Catholic Relief Services, Tree Aid and World Vision, and researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The participants identified the many benefits of increasing trees and forests in landscapes, such as the conservation of soil and water and the important economic, medicinal and nutritional value of indigenous species.

They also examined the complex constraints — cultural, climatic, legal, gender — that confront everyone working to improve the management of agricultural, pastoral and forest land in the region, including tree-planting activities that do not take into account the importance of species, context, management and timing.

Along with the call to action, the workshop produced a series of recommendations for policies and actions to improve tree cover, forests and land health in the three districts, including new laws to prevent indiscriminate tree-cutting, analyses and mapping of soils in the communities, and more emphasis on agroforestry systems with indigenous trees and crops.

The workshop was convened by two projects: West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by CIFOR and implemented by ICRAF in Ghana and Burkina Faso; and the five-year- Regreening Africa, funded by the European Union, in which ICRAF is a leading partner.

Shea nuts. Photo by ICRAF

With such a diverse group of people, discussions naturally ranged widely, covering many of the issues that afflicted the region.
For example, Thomas Addaoh, CIFOR field coordinator of WAFFI Ghana, noted that the demand for charcoal in urban centres in northern Ghana is resulting in the widespread harvesting of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) for their wood as a source of the fuel. Research undertaken for WAFFI found that more than a quarter of the charcoal in the region was derived from shea, making it the most common source of wood for the widely-used fuel.

Shea is also a vital source of income for women, who sell the shea nuts, which produce a quality oil with a growing global market because of its use in cosmetics and as a cocoa butter substitute in food, or process them into shea butter for local use. The cutting of shea trees for charcoal production, Addaoh said, meant female harvesters and sellers of the shea nuts were competing with male harvesters and vendors of the wood, something that requires urgent attention to ensure sustainable management of the fuel-and-oil resource and equitably meet the income needs of households.

More generally, Edward Akunyagra of World Vision, the project manager of Regreening Africa in Ghana, said that the project is working to reverse the loss of trees, aiming to influence policy and mindsets through an advocacy campaign.

According to the Upper East regional director of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Francis Ennor, who attended the workshop along with three district directors from the ministry, land degradation and loss of tree cover in the region are ‘extremely serious’. Rampant bush fires destroy groundcover and trees, and expose the soil to the weather, such as heavy rain and wind, which leads to erosion and loss of fertility.

However, Ennor said the workshop was addressing his concerns and he hoped that from now on local authorities would take tree management and planting very seriously and that every community would have a land-use plan to increase tree cover.
Such land-use plans, Ennor said, could designate degraded areas for restoration through farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). This could create community forests, such as the one supported by World Vision Australia that the workshop participants had visited the previous day in Saaka Aneogo.

Ennor argued that there is a need for policies to protect such community forests and make their management sustainable and less vulnerable because of insecure land tenure. This is a prerequisite for increasing the scale of FMNR and encouraging planting to increase tree cover in croplands and across whole landscapes.

Indeed, the purpose of the workshop, according to ICRAF’s Emilie Smith Dumont, was to bring together a range of people working for transformation of the Upper East Region to examine ways to ‘create synergies for resilient livelihoods’. Smith Dumont coordinates the WAFFI project in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and also acts as a focal point for Regreening Africa in Ghana.

“We have many projects in the northern belt,” Smith Dumont said. “Some are working in silos, so today we are trying to bring all those people together to share lessons and promote action.”

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


For more information, please contact Emilie Smith Dumont at [email protected]

The West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. 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.

WAFFI is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. 

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.

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  • Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

A woman looks out over an FLR area in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Optimally achieving forest landscape restoration – and its associated benefits for ecology and human wellbeing – requires high-quality planting material.

Restoration plays a key role in sustainable development. With countries making significant pledges under the Bonn Challenge to restore degraded land, achieving these objectives at scale requires integrated systems that provide diverse, adapted and high-quality native tree seeds and planting material.

However, there remains a gap in capacity, as studies have documented that the quality and quantity of tree germplasm is not always adequately addressed in restoration projects. Research is now generating solutions to help the global community move from pledges to impact when it comes to tree seeds and seedlings.

A discussion at the recent Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) with Bioversity International, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration – brought these issues to the fore.

Read more: Delivery of diverse and suitable seeds and planting material is a key barrier to sustainable land restoration at scale

In opening the discussion, Bioversity International’s leader of forest genetic resources and restoration Christopher Kettle, whose work also forms part of FTA, introduced how researchers can help to generate the volume of seeds needed to achieve development objectives.

In line with this, FTA Director Vincent Gitz highlighted that restoration is a priority for research programs such as FTA. In order to be successful, projects should integrate the availability of good tree planting materials from the outset to implementation, he suggested.

Giving a keynote, senior advisor on tropical trees and landscapes at the University of Copenhagen Lars Graudal, who is also coleader of tree productivity and diversity at ICRAF, echoed Kettle in asking whether the reproductive material of trees constituted a barrier for landscape restoration.

Referring to the Bonn Challenge – which aims to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020, and 350 million ha by 2030 – the largest restoration in history, which is backed by conventions and the sustainable development agenda, Graudal said it is one thing to have a plan, and another to implement it.

Despite shortfalls in investments, there is reason for optimism as public support for the plan has never been greater, he said. There is a “positive correlation with biodiversity and resilience, agricultural produce and dietary diversity,” he explained. The world faces challenges of mobilizing diversity before it disappears; focusing on dealing with numerous species rather than only a few; linking that work with conservation, breeding and delivery programs; and achieving efficient programs by empowering users.

Speakers of Discussion Forum 1 at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF

The discussion continued with a panel of speakers considering situations on the ground where restoration efforts are being implemented. Featuring Cameroon-based forest engineer Anicet Ngomin; Burkina Faso’s National Tree Seed Center director general Moussa Ouedraogo; Charles Karangwa of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Rwanda; biologist and youth representative Vania Olmos Lau; social entrepreneur Doreen Mashu; and FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism coordinator Douglas McGuire, the panel looked at how the ability to deliver diverse and quality seed and planting material is impacting countries’ pledges.

Outlining some of the regional challenges in meeting restoration commitments, Ouedraogo said Burkina Faso has committed to planting 5 million hectares by 2030, but has experienced a 30-35 percent survival rate of trees after one year of planting. Native species remain threatened, he added.

Ngomin said Cameroon has committed to restoring 12 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030, with seeds forming an important part of reforestation programs.

Read more: FTA researchers set to highlight seeds, REDD+ and inclusive finance at landscapes forum

Tree seed diversity determines the extent and speed to which ambitious restoration targets can be achieved, said Karangwa. While widespread eucalyptus monoculture in Rwanda affects land productivity, restoration would bring multiple benefits to both people and landscapes. Although farmers know the importance of trees on farms, he added, they “feel like trees are competing with crops, because of the quality and the type of trees we are telling them to plant.” This shows that tree seed diversity is paramount, he said.

Lau emphasized that achieving the Bonn Challenge is also important to youth. She cited as examples a lack of knowledge and access to seeds in Paraguay, as well as bureaucratic hurdles in Mexico, as existing barriers to restoration.

Mashu, who is the founder of The Good Heritage in Zimbabwe – a wellness brand using non-timber forest resources to create products – underlined the need for a clear connection between restoration efforts and economic activity.

“Companies are thinking about doing good in additional to making financial returns,” she said. Thus, business can be a vehicle for restoration for both businesspeople and the scientists who support it, she explained.

McGuire addressed time-bound political commitments, and how to balance these with the time needed to understand the science and practical issues behind tree planting. There are new projects indicating huge momentum both politically and financially, he explained, but many stakeholders have yet to address the technicalities of planting material.

A woman looks out over an FLR area in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Building on Mashu’s comments, he also underlined the role of the private sector and embedding restoration into economic realities.

Following on with keynote speeches were scientist Marius Ekué, Bioversity International’s representative in Cameroon and a member of FTA, and ICRAF’s Ramni Jamnadass, who is the leader of FTA’s Flagship 1 on tree genetic resources.

Ekué introduced the Trees for Seeds initiative, which was launched at GLF Nairobi in August and aims to safeguard diversity. “Trees don’t have borders, so we work within a network,” he said, referring to networks that exist across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Read more: Hedging bets in resilient landscape restoration

In line with the initiative, researchers have developed decision support tools to help practitioners select the right tree species for the right places, such as RESTOOL. This can help to understand how seed systems work in different countries, including how they are harvested, produced and distributed. With this information, researchers can then assess how to deliver at scale using innovative technologies.

Similarly, Jamnadass covered the quality of restoration, and the right tree for the right place and the right purpose. She also highlighted other decision support tools such as Useful Tree Species for Africa and the Vegetation Map for Africa. Research needs to put food trees back into landscapes using the restoration agenda, she emphasized.

The panel then continued with a second phase of discussion, articulating concrete solutions for lifting barriers to scale – raising the need to invest in knowledge and science, greater collaboration between partners, harnessing local knowledge, strengthening delivery systems as a local level, bridging gaps between science and policy, and capacity building.

In closing, Erick Fernandes, an adviser on agriculture, forestry and climate change to the World Bank Group, reiterated that the desire to restore land is strong.

As stated by the Trees for Seeds project, using the right mix of native trees in forest restoration efforts is essential to deliver on multiple SDGs, including reducing poverty and food insecurity, and supporting biodiversity.

Planting a trillion trees, and ensuring that they are the right trees in the right place, offers a powerful development solution.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


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