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Using forests to support wellness

A woman harvests Gnetum spp (Okok) leaves in Minwoho, Lekié, Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
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At the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, in December 2018, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) spoke with social entrepreneur Doreen Mashu, the founder of The Good Heritage in Zimbabwe – a wellness brand using non-timber forest resources to create products.

At the GLF, Mashu was part of the panel titled, “Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration: What solutions, what emerging needs?”, hosted by FTA with Bioversity InternationalWorld Agroforestry (ICRAF), and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

During the session, Mashu emphasized the need for a clear connection between restoration efforts and economic activity. “Companies are thinking about doing good in addition 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.

Read our interview with Doreen Mashu here, edited for length and clarity.

How is your business connected to nature and forests?

The Good Heritage is a startup, and it’s a company I founded recently. What I am really trying to do is take a back-to-basics approach to ‘nutrifying’ the world. We look back at some of the traditions and we borrow from them – some of these great traditions about using just the most natural forms of medicine, for example, or cosmetic products, or food products. I’m trying to bring to the world more consumer goods that are wellness-based, and are based from forests, and that are very natural, wild harvested, and in their most natural form. And I am aiming to make these more available to the global community.

Read more: The right species for the right purpose

How do forest products relate to the growing interest in wellness?

I think wellness is just this idea of feeling your best, whether it is the way you look, the way you feel, the way you think, or the decisions you make throughout the day to support your whole being. It’s a holistic view to what makes a person whole, and what makes them live their best life.

When I was looking at working with forests and creating opportunities around forests for communities, I realized that I needed to find a demand, a need to be met, through forests. And wellness is a growing trend globally. It’s potentially not even a trend, because it is something that is really here to stay.

People are moving away from cosmetic products, for instance, with multiple ingredients, in favor of things with minimal ingredients. As an example, one of our products is a cosmetic oil that you can apply, and that’s it. You don’t need another cream, you don’t need an eye cream, you don’t need all these other cosmetic products that you would normally need. We are basically meeting that need to simplify the beauty process for women and men around the world. This is certainly an area for me that is exciting, and that can be met through developing and restoring forests.

Afrormosia trees stand in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

What barriers exist in restoring degraded land and achieving sustainable development related to forests? 

I think that the main issue is connecting with communities and cocreating with the communities. I don’t think we’ll fix this problem by simply bringing solutions. I think that we need to connect the goals of restoring forests to development goals, to people’s needs.

I like ideas where you cocreate with the community, so you’re not bringing a solution from elsewhere. Bringing all these together will be a step in the right direction to meeting these goals.

Watch: FTA at GLF: Involving youth in restoration and conservation

How can the private sector engage in seed systems and land restoration? 

The private sector plays a very big role. It needs to be at the table when scientists, researchers and the government are talking about restoration. And thanks to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the private sector is now thinking about ways to do good and implementing a multipronged approach of doing good for business, good for society and good for the environment.

A man holds some indigenous seeds in Olenguruone, Rift Valley, Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR

The private sector needs to be front and center. In terms of financing, some financing can come through the private sector as long as they are also getting what they need and getting the financial returns that they need.

How can we move from restoration pledges toward restoration action?

Pledges are very interesting because sometimes people sit in a room and they come up with numbers. However, I think that they need to be constantly be updated with new information from the field. Sometimes, we have these big numbers that we want to accomplish, but we don’t really tie them to what’s happening on the ground. We really need to look at why we are trying to achieve something such as the restoration of however many hectares of land. What is the reason for this, and can we explain it in a way that we get buy-in from everyone that is involved?

By the FTA communications team. 


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (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, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • The right species for the right purpose

The right species for the right purpose

Cengkeh (cloves) accounted for 27% of seedlings produced in project-sponsored nurseries. Photo by Endri Martini/ICRAF
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

During the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, in December 2018, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) spoke to Charles Karangwa of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Rwanda.

At the GLF, Karangwa was part of the panel titled, “Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration: What solutions, what emerging needs?”, hosted by FTA with Bioversity InternationalWorld Agroforestry (ICRAF), and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The panel discussed how the ability to deliver diverse and quality seed and planting material is impacting pledges such as those made under the Bonn Challenge, which has now pledged 350 million hectares of degraded land globally for different forms of restoration by 2030. During the session, Karangwa explained that tree seed diversity determines the extent and speed to which ambitious restoration targets can be achieved.

Read our interview with Charles Karangwa here, edited for length and clarity.

Can you describe the restoration situation in Rwanda?

Rwanda is composed of 90 percent smallholder farmers, and it was engaged in restoration even before Rwanda committed to the Bonn Challenge in 2011. In Rwanda, agricultural practices, changes in climate, weather patterns, and population increases have affected land use and land cover, and the forest has been reduced to 30 percent.

Agricultural land has been degraded mostly because of subsistence farming. In addition, year after year, the population increases – and now with a total of more than 100 people per square kilometer, the land size is very small, and it’s used for many reasons, especially for subsistence farming. As such, restoration in Rwanda faces many challenges.

A native seed in Mau Forest, Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR

Why must we invest more in knowledge and science?

Restoration is a long-term process. To regain ecological functionality and provide multiple benefits to people takes a long time – but it’s not that farmers don’t know what to do, or don’t know the importance of trees. It’s science which tells you how to restore land, and helps to predict the changes that are going to happen and be able to adapt.

We need knowledge, and we need science to adapt to climate change. Even smallholder farmers need this knowledge. Science is very important, and combined with local knowledge, it brings efficiency to restoration.

To give an example, when I was a child, I could see that the soil was fertile – you could see the biomass in the soil. However, because of over-farming, and using the same land for many years, the soil’s fertility reduced and now plant crops and trees no longer grow where we used to plant them. It’s really this conflict of use that needs science and adaptation.

Read also: Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

Do trees compete with crops on farms?

This is very much linked to diversity, and conflicts. In my country, Rwanda, more than 80 percent of our trees are Eucalyptus, so we call it a monoculture. And we have 69 species of Eucalyptus across the country. If you take Eucalyptus, and plant it with beans, you won’t be able to harvest beans. Therefore, a farmer will initially think that trees are competing with their farm. But if you turn to agroforestry, and be selective about the kind of species you choose, a farmer will like the trees. They will understand that trees can increase the biomass in soil and increase production. Farmers sometimes see competition, depending on the type of species planted – and that’s where species diversity can play a role.

Watch: FTA at GLF: Using forests to support wellness

How can we move from restoration pledges toward restoration action?

We have already passed the 100 million hectares of land set by the Africa Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) – now we are at 110 million.

We have also surpassed the Bonn Challenge’s 150-million-hectare global target for 2020. Now we are at 168 million across the globe. So it’s really time now to move from pledge to implementation – and implementation is happening.

Planting Gnetum in Minwoho, Cameroon. Photo: O. Girard/CIFOR

Countries like Malawi have already decided to dedicate 7 million US dollars of domestic finance per year to restoration. Countries like Kenya and Uganda, and other countries in Africa, such as Niger and Burkina Faso, are already doing restoration on the ground. However, this really needs a lot of effort. It’s a movement from smallholders to policymakers, to financial partners, to development organizations, all of whom must work together and deliver these restoration movements.

The IUCN has established what we call a regional technical hub that supports countries in conducting assessments of their restoration opportunities, reviewing their policies, and supporting their financing streams, especially domestic finance, for restoration, and we have been doing this work across Africa.

By the FTA communications team.


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (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, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Delivery of quality and diverse planting material

Delivery of quality and diverse planting material

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration. What solutions, what emerging needs? The Bonn Challenge has now pledged 350 million hectares of degraded land globally for different forms of restoration. It can be an essential contribution to sustainable development, to reduce poverty, food insecurity and enhance biodiversity. However, restoration is easier pledged than done. A critical barrier to delivering restoration at scale is the lack of delivery systems at scale for diverse, adapted and high quality native tree seeds and planting material.

This discussion forum will bring together representatives from national governments who have made significant pledges under the Bonn Challenge, development actors, private sector (seed and planting material companies), civil society, and researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. It will show the extent of the challenge, review and discuss the range of issues related to the set-up at scale of delivery systems of suitable and adapted seeds and planting material, for effective, sustainable land restoration. It will explore the practical technical, economic and institutional challenges stakeholders currently face in delivering at scale suitable seeds and planting material. It will also explore issues such as how to best access and leverage tree biodiversity, including native species, keeping into account the quality, origin and diversity of seeds and planting material used. It will present and discuss a range of technical, economic and institutional solutions that scientists and stakeholders have developed to address these issues. Participants will discuss the common solutions across regions and remaining gaps and barriers, as well as the need for additional innovations.

This video was first published by the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

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  • FTA researchers set to highlight seeds, REDD+ and inclusive finance at landscapes forum

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

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Clouds pass over Ribangkadeng village in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Nanang Sujana/CIFOR

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and its partner institutions are set to make a strong showing at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn on Dec. 1-2, 2018.

This year’s GLF Bonn will be key in drawing out the next steps toward hitting global sustainability targets, with many participants expected at the World Conference Center in Germany, in addition to a worldwide audience online.

Of numerous discussion forums, FTA is hosting a session on the delivery of quality and diverse planting material as a major constraint for restoration, organized by Bioversity International in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

FTA Director Vincent Gitz will provide the opening to the session, ahead of a range of speakers including FTA Flagship 1 leader Ramni Jamnadass, as well as FTA’s Christopher Kettle, Marius Ekeu and Lars Graudal, and representatives of numerous key organizations. Additional details are available in the session flyer.

The program is also cohosting a session from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) titled REDD+ at 10: What we’ve learned and where we go next. Looking back at 10 years of REDD+ research, the session will ask how REDD+ has evolved, and where it stands now.

FTA Flagship 5 leader Christopher Martius, who is also team leader of climate change, energy and low-carbon development at CIFOR, will moderate the session, in which CIFOR’s Anne Larson and Arild Angelsen will speak. The GLF will also see the launch of a related book, Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions, in the Landscapes Action Pavilion Networking Area.

Another discussion forum of note is Looking at the past to shape the Landscape Approach of the future, organized by CIFOR, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and FTA, which will bring together a diverse set of panelists experienced in implementing integrated landscape approaches in various contexts.

A major feature of GLF is its schedule of side events, including Territorial development – managing landscapes for the rural future cohosted by Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), and Bamboo for restoration and economic development organized by the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR).

The program will have a presence at the event’s pavilions, including the Inclusive Finance and Business Engagement Pavilion where a highlight session titled Making responsible investments work: Bridging the gap between global investors and local end users is set to take place, looking at success factors for inclusive and responsible businesses, which are at the core of both climate finance and responsible investments, as well as financial mechanisms that can adequately address the needs of such businesses.

Visit the Tropenbos International (TBI) and CIFOR booths to find FTA resources and to speak with FTA experts.


For the full details of FTA’s involvement in GLF, please check the event webpage.

Tune into the GLF livestream on Dec. 1-2, from 9am-7.30pm in Bonn, Germany.

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  • Hedging bets in resilient landscape restoration

Hedging bets in resilient landscape restoration

Forest landscape restoration in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR
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Photo by Alfredo Camacho/Bioversity International

Bioversity International launched the “Trees for Seeds: Resilient forest restoration” initiative at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in late August in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Pardon the pun but hedging our bets with global land restoration is exactly what we need to be doing if we don’t want to bury billions of dollars in a failed investment. 

On the last two days of August I participated in the GLF in Nairobi. This was an exciting meeting, not least because of the buzz around the African commitment to restoration through the African Forest Landscape Initiative (AFR100), and the very clear political will and private sector appetite for restoration – AFR100 is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa into restoration by 2030.

The rhetoric behind delivering large-scale restoration is compelling. Globally, degraded land costs about 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP) per year, while the benefits estimated in the billions of US dollars per year through improved ecosystem services, climate mitigation and improved productivity of degraded land.

Read also: FTA at GLF Nairobi: Faith in trees restored

The huge potential for AFR100 to contribute to a healthier, greener and more sustainable planet, are reasons to be happy. At the same time the growing pledges now at 100 million hectares for Africa, in the next 12 years, leaves one thinking “great, so how are we going to do this?” That’s a lot of land, a lot of trees and a lot of seeds.

Of course, the counting of hectares to be restored is pretty easy to do on paper. Delivering the sustainable development objectives from this restoration, on the other hand, requires planning, financing, and a clear idea of what this landscape restoration will look like on the ground.

On Aug. 28, the journal Nature also published an open access news article titled How to plant a trillion trees. That’s about one-third of the trees on our planet, or approximately 130 trees per person!

One of the critical barriers to restoration is having access to the seeds, and seedlings of the right tree species, of the right quality, that will be able to deliver multiple societal benefits, and contribute to multiple ecosystem services. This is the focus of the Trees for Seeds initiative (#Trees4Seeds) at Bioversity International, which was launched at the GLF. Watch the video of the launch, where distinguished panelists from Ghana and Cameroon joined us to discuss the significance of this topic for meeting their pledges under AFR100.

Watch: Trees for Seeds, a foundation for resilient restoration

What is the best way to plant trees? Well, Mother Nature is certainly among the best restoration practitioners. Natural regeneration of trees to fallow land is likely to be an important first port-of-call for many countries to meet the Bonn Challenge pledges. 

Natural regeneration represents the least costly method of restoring degraded land. But, this does not automatically mean that regenerating forests or the trees on fallow lands will deliver the most pressing sustainable development needs such as poverty alleviation (SGD1) food security (SDG2), improved human health (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5), climate mitigation (SDG13) and biodiversity conservation (SDG15). 

In degraded tropical landscapes, many of the most useful tree species may not be present in sufficient numbers, or may be growing far from the site designated for restoration for seed dispersal to deliver seeds naturally. Let’s remember many tropical tree species seeds are dispersed by animals (birds, bats or monkeys), often hunted out of these landscapes. This short video interview highlights the problems and approaches of the Trees4Seeds initiative.

In reality, nature is going to need a little help in many situations. This might be through planting trees as part of enrichment restoration, or through seeding degraded lands from drones, or planes. Whichever the delivery method, at the very basis is the need for seeds, seeds from a diverse range of species, and seeds of good quality. If we fail to address this as the foundation of resilient restoration, then I am afraid that our restoration efforts will be wasted. These landscapes will not be resilient to climate change, will not be resilient to novel pests and disease, and will not deliver SDGs.

There is a huge opportunity out there. Nowhere on earth is the diversity of native trees greater than in tropical and sub-tropical countries (home to the vast majority of more than 60,000 species of tree), where the returns on investment in restoration will be greatest. We have the chance to develop diversified restoration portfolios, using diverse species, which deliver multiple benefits, and can be resilient. This diversity offers novel business opportunities, where global food systems are currently lacking. Trees can be some of the most nutritionally important parts of our diet. 

As shown by a recent paper by colleagues working on nutrition at Bioversity International, the more species you eat the greater your health. Also, some tropical trees are much better at locking up carbon than others, species that produce heavy dense wood might be slower growing but pack more carbon per hectare of land. Such species also offer opportunities to lock up carbon for longer, rather than just being used to generate fiber for waste paper.

Let’s not miss this opportunity. We have an urgent need to conserve the diversity of tropical trees so that we can use their genetic resources (seeds) for restoration. But we also need to invest in countries’ capacity to sustainably use this huge and valuable biological diversity to its full potential.

Join us at the next GLF in Bonn, Germany, on Dec. 1-2 to take the next steps in the Trees for Seeds initiative.

By Christopher Kettle, Science Domain Leader, Forest Genetic Resources and Restoration, Bioversity International. Originally published by Bioversity International. 


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


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