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  • Public procurement can boost demand for legal timber in Central Africa

Public procurement can boost demand for legal timber in Central Africa

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A woman carries wood in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

Central African governments and their development partners account for a significant proportion of the region’s demand for domestic timber, mostly to meet infrastructure needs in sectors such as education, public works and healthcare. 

This demand is growing, as more development projects are implemented in the region. However, experts say that not enough attention is currently given to the legality of the wood used for development projects, resulting in countries missing out on a crucial opportunity to promote a sustainable, legal supply chain of timber for national consumption.

A recently published policy brief by the Central African Forest Observatory (OFAC) discusses how, until now, the governments and international organizations in the region do not include a legality clause in their calls for tenders for public procurement.

“In the current state of affairs, the states and development actors are contributing indirectly to the informal and illegal practices that prevail in the timber sector in Central Africa,” says Richard Eba’a Atyi, lead author of the policy brief and director of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Central Africa hub. “The different actors in the public procurement supply chain are violating the countries’ commitments to processes such as the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, and the 2008 Sub-Regional Agreement on Forest Control in Central Africa.”

In the policy brief Eba’a Atyi and the contributing authors call for a change in national public procurement policies across the region to enforce public purchases of timber exclusively from legal sources.

Read more: New kid on the block in Indonesia’s timber export industry

MAKING CHANGE

Currently, public procurement of timber follows a certain sequence of events. National governments lead infrastructure projects, often with support from international donors, and award projects via public tender to national or international enterprises, which then carry out the construction work. Most of these companies source their wood from local urban markets supplied by small-scale loggers, who do not take into consideration resource renewal rates. The supply chain is thus informal – and essentially illegal – and is contributing to the deterioration and depletion of Central Africa’s forests.

International donors, in most of the cases, abide by national laws, meaning that here they do not have to ensure that wood is sourced legally for public procurement projects. While some enterprises and donors do have internal operating guidelines that recommend legally sourced timber in their projects, but most of the time these guidelines are not monitored and implemented.

A tree weeps sap after being cut down to produce charcoal in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

Furthermore, certified or legally sourced wood is often difficult to obtain in Central Africa, either because the industry is not interested in low-profit national markets, or because of the incapacity to meet national demand.

However, attitudes are slowly changing, and governments and development actors are increasingly turning their eyes to the issue. “A few initiatives taken across Central Africa indicate that countries are prepared to promote legally sourced timber in public procurement,” says Guillaume Lescuyer, contributing author of the policy brief, and coordinator of CIFOR’s ESSOR project that aims to boost demand for legal wood in Cameroon.

“The Cameroonian Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF), for example, has formed a working group on the issue and is now preparing a draft text on the promotion of legally sourced timber in government contracts.” The Cameroonian government’s demand for timber is calculated to be at least 13,000 cubic meters per year – an amount that can potentially have a very high impact for the betterment of the industry.

Read more: Observatory addresses urgent need to monitor forests in East Africa

LEGAL EFFORTS

Other initiatives across the region can be found in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “In Gabon in 2016, for instance, the Ministry of National Education sought to showcase the quality of Gabonese wood by purchasing 150,000 tables and benches of assumedly legal origin from the Gabon Wood Hub,” highlights Eba’a Atyi. “In the DRC, the Faculty of Sciences at Kisangani University recently sourced certified timber for a infrastructure project with financial support from the European Union.”

These individual initiatives, though relatively small on the regional scale, help create awareness about the issue and need to be encouraged and scaled-up in other countries, the experts say.

In order to require legally sourced wood in public contracts, the authors of the policy brief suggest three options to the national governments in the region. First, governments should make a political statement announcing their intention to promote the exclusive use of legally sourced wood in government contracts. Second, they should issue a legal act – a binding decree, for example, signed by a president or prime minister, or a joint order from national agencies involved in forestry resources management, public contracts and infrastructure – on wood legality in government procurement orders.

Men process wood at a company in Kisangani, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

And third, they should include a clause on the use of legally sourced timber in public contracting codes, so as to directly target the mandates of providers and suppliers.

Finally, regional cooperation, especially through the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), also offers an opportunity to push for changes in public procurement policies at the intergovernmental level.

“Considering the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and the growing interest in promoting intra-African timber trade, it should be a priority for COMIFAC Member States to urgently prepare and adopt public procurement policies that impose and promote timber from legal sources,” says Eba’a Atyi.

And international partners, he says, should stand ready to help prepare these policies and apply them to their development support actions in Central Africa.

By Ahtziri Gonzalez, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Guillaume Lescuyer at [email protected] or Richard Eba’a Atyi at [email protected].


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

This research was supported by the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, CIRAD, Foret Ressources Management (FRM Ingenerie), and the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL).

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  • Public procurement can boost demand for legal timber in Central Africa

Public procurement can boost demand for legal timber in Central Africa

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman carries wood in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

Central African governments and their development partners account for a significant proportion of the region’s demand for domestic timber, mostly to meet infrastructure needs in sectors such as education, public works and healthcare. 

This demand is growing, as more development projects are implemented in the region. However, experts say that not enough attention is currently given to the legality of the wood used for development projects, resulting in countries missing out on a crucial opportunity to promote a sustainable, legal supply chain of timber for national consumption.

A recently published policy brief by the Central African Forest Observatory (OFAC) discusses how, until now, the governments and international organizations in the region do not include a legality clause in their calls for tenders for public procurement.

“In the current state of affairs, the states and development actors are contributing indirectly to the informal and illegal practices that prevail in the timber sector in Central Africa,” says Richard Eba’a Atyi, lead author of the policy brief and director of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Central Africa hub. “The different actors in the public procurement supply chain are violating the countries’ commitments to processes such as the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, and the 2008 Sub-Regional Agreement on Forest Control in Central Africa.”

In the policy brief Eba’a Atyi and the contributing authors call for a change in national public procurement policies across the region to enforce public purchases of timber exclusively from legal sources.

Read more: New kid on the block in Indonesia’s timber export industry

MAKING CHANGE

Currently, public procurement of timber follows a certain sequence of events. National governments lead infrastructure projects, often with support from international donors, and award projects via public tender to national or international enterprises, which then carry out the construction work. Most of these companies source their wood from local urban markets supplied by small-scale loggers, who do not take into consideration resource renewal rates. The supply chain is thus informal – and essentially illegal – and is contributing to the deterioration and depletion of Central Africa’s forests.

International donors, in most of the cases, abide by national laws, meaning that here they do not have to ensure that wood is sourced legally for public procurement projects. While some enterprises and donors do have internal operating guidelines that recommend legally sourced timber in their projects, but most of the time these guidelines are not monitored and implemented.

A tree weeps sap after being cut down to produce charcoal in Yangambi, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

Furthermore, certified or legally sourced wood is often difficult to obtain in Central Africa, either because the industry is not interested in low-profit national markets, or because of the incapacity to meet national demand.

However, attitudes are slowly changing, and governments and development actors are increasingly turning their eyes to the issue. “A few initiatives taken across Central Africa indicate that countries are prepared to promote legally sourced timber in public procurement,” says Guillaume Lescuyer, contributing author of the policy brief, and coordinator of CIFOR’s ESSOR project that aims to boost demand for legal wood in Cameroon.

“The Cameroonian Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF), for example, has formed a working group on the issue and is now preparing a draft text on the promotion of legally sourced timber in government contracts.” The Cameroonian government’s demand for timber is calculated to be at least 13,000 cubic meters per year – an amount that can potentially have a very high impact for the betterment of the industry.

Read more: Observatory addresses urgent need to monitor forests in East Africa

LEGAL EFFORTS

Other initiatives across the region can be found in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “In Gabon in 2016, for instance, the Ministry of National Education sought to showcase the quality of Gabonese wood by purchasing 150,000 tables and benches of assumedly legal origin from the Gabon Wood Hub,” highlights Eba’a Atyi. “In the DRC, the Faculty of Sciences at Kisangani University recently sourced certified timber for a infrastructure project with financial support from the European Union.”

These individual initiatives, though relatively small on the regional scale, help create awareness about the issue and need to be encouraged and scaled-up in other countries, the experts say.

In order to require legally sourced wood in public contracts, the authors of the policy brief suggest three options to the national governments in the region. First, governments should make a political statement announcing their intention to promote the exclusive use of legally sourced wood in government contracts. Second, they should issue a legal act – a binding decree, for example, signed by a president or prime minister, or a joint order from national agencies involved in forestry resources management, public contracts and infrastructure – on wood legality in government procurement orders.

Men process wood at a company in Kisangani, DRC. Photo by A. Fassio/CIFOR

And third, they should include a clause on the use of legally sourced timber in public contracting codes, so as to directly target the mandates of providers and suppliers.

Finally, regional cooperation, especially through the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), also offers an opportunity to push for changes in public procurement policies at the intergovernmental level.

“Considering the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and the growing interest in promoting intra-African timber trade, it should be a priority for COMIFAC Member States to urgently prepare and adopt public procurement policies that impose and promote timber from legal sources,” says Eba’a Atyi.

And international partners, he says, should stand ready to help prepare these policies and apply them to their development support actions in Central Africa.

By Ahtziri Gonzalez, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Guillaume Lescuyer at [email protected] or Richard Eba’a Atyi at [email protected].


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

This research was supported by the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, CIRAD, Foret Ressources Management (FRM Ingenerie), and the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL).

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  • Can the production of wild forest foods be sustained in timber concessions?

Can the production of wild forest foods be sustained in timber concessions?

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Can the production of wild forest foods be sustained in timber concessions? Logging and the availability of edible caterpillars hosted by sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum) and tali (Erythrophleum suaveolens) trees in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum) and tali (Erythrophleum suaveolens) are among the most important timber species harvested from Congo Basin forests. They also host edible caterpillars, Imbrasia oyemensis and Cirina forda, respectively, which are important to the nutrition and income of rural and urban populations. This study evaluated the density of these tree species within a 10 km radius around each of 4 villages and in the 2012 annual cutting areas of two timber concessions in the region of Kisangani (DRC). Sapelli and tali trees ≥20 cm dbh and their stumps were identified and measured on 21 five ha plots around each village and 20 five ha plots on each concession. Around villages and on concessions, sapelli trees occurred at densities of 0.048 ± 0.008 harvestable trees (≥80 cm dbh) ha −1 and 0.135 ± 0.019 precommercial trees ha −1. Harvestable tali trees (≥60 cm dbh) were seven times more abundant at 0.347 ± 0.032 ha −1, while pre-commercial tali trees occurred at densities of 0.329 ± 0.033 trees ha −1. Between 25% and 40% of the harvestable sapelli trees had been logged as compared to < 3% of the harvestable tali trees. Production per tree, derived from another study, was extrapolated to estimate caterpillar yields on a half circle of 15,700 ha within 10 km of villages, using these estimates of tree densities. Depending on the village, yields were estimated as 11.6–34.5 Mg year −1 of I. oyemensis from sapelli trees, and 65.8–80.9 Mg year −1 of C. forda from tali trees, an average of 0.74–2.2 kg ha −1 year and 4.2–5.2 kg ha −1 year, fresh weight, respectively (0.23–0.68 kg ha −1 year −1 and 1.3–1.6 kg ha −1 year −1, dry weight, respectively). Harvestable trees yielded more caterpillars, providing most of the C. forda caterpillars. However, because harvestable sapelli trees occurred at low densities, the bulk of I. oyemensis caterpillar production would be hosted on precommercial trees. Logging practices that reject poorly formed or hollow trees and guidelines that call for high minimum diameter limits and retention of seed trees or prohibit logging on slopes or riparian zones, safeguard edible caterpillar production. Multiple resource management for multiple stakeholders would require more deliberate planning and management approaches based on negotiations with local communities and approaches like setting aside collection zones or collection trees that would be protected from logging.

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  • Local wood businesses find better global opportunities with sustainability certification

Local wood businesses find better global opportunities with sustainability certification

Women carve wood side by side. Photo by Deanna Ramsay/CIFOR
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Sitting in Mbak Njum’s tiny office in the coastal Central Java town of Jepara, Indonesia, talk was of exports, trends in furniture styles, cargo containers and logistics.

“Business used to be much better, and Western Europe used to be my biggest market,” said Mbak Njum, who has had her business since 1997. She added that Indonesian customers now make up 10 percent of her sales. A whiteboard in her office noted where else her items were headed: Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia.

Jepara’s economy – almost completely dedicated to wood products – has experienced booms and busts over the decades. The 1998 Asian financial crisis actually opened up its export market, but 2008’s global economic collapse meant declines and a pivot to local buyers.

Scientist Herry Purnomo from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been working in the area for years, supporting the use of certified and legal wood and improved supply chains to benefit the town’s many small- and medium-scale enterprises, with research that forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

“Almost 30 percent of Jepara’s economy relies on furniture. If furniture disappears from Jepara, then the woodcarving culture will disappear too. Woodcraft carving and furniture-making are essential to Jepara and they need raw materials, and those raw materials are trees – specifically teak and mahogany,” he said.

Watch: Carving a niche in the global market: The woodworkers of Jepara

MOTLEY CREW

Just last year, Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system (SVLK) was the first in the world to be approved for the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) license, which allows legal timber and timber products to smoothly enter Europe’s markets. With this license, people are hoping for a boon for Jepara’s small businesses.

To say that Jepara’s economic life is centered around wood and woodcrafts would be an understatement. The town’s streets are littered with scenes of logs being loaded onto and off of trucks, women carving intricate designs at roadside stalls, men cutting and measuring slabs of teak, and a motley assortment of furniture available for sale at shops both large and small.

Pak Tafrikhan owns one of those stores, complete with a workshop in the back where his furniture is made and sold to Jakartans, and people in Dubai and Taiwan. Like any true entrepreneur, he is passionate about his craft and a keen observer of trends.

“My father’s principle was, don’t be afraid to make things; they’ll always sell. I still remember that message, so I never hesitate to produce. They’ll definitely sell because furniture has an extraordinarily wide-ranging market share. It depends on which segment we direct it towards,” he said, gesturing to an intricately grained teak coffee table of his own design.

Jepara has definitely cornered the market in Indonesia, so now the question is certification and licenses to expand. Many in the town aren’t yet knowledgeable about how to get their products certified, or are avoiding the levels of bureaucracy involved.

“Is the SVLK beneficial in financial terms? Perhaps it hasn’t been yet. But if this can be done, at least it will change the furniture industry’s culture in Jepara,” small business owner Pak Trisno said as the sun set at his warehouse.

Read more: New kid on the block in Indonesia’s timber export industry

Women carve wood side by side. Photo by Deanna Ramsay/CIFOR

PASSION PLAY

As a carved relief of the Beatles serenaded men wrapping coffee table tops and women prepping stools and chairs to be sent to Australia, a carving of Jesus laid hobbled on its side, waiting for the final touches of arms and a crucifix – and hopefully a church to purchase the finished piece.

Nur Hamidah, who had been carving a decorative wood piece together with a lively group of women along a small lane, said, “This is work we all have been familiar with since we were kids – this job is like our own family, it’s in our blood.”

Here, markets, certifications and international agreements are only the finishing touches to an industry based on tradition, passion and creativity.

“People have been using teakwood for centuries, and for hundreds of years it has sustained the lives of Jepara’s people. It’s given birth to many artisans; many great works. Carvings, reliefs and many things from these trees – from this teak – have been exported to many countries, and have made Jepara famous throughout the world,” Purnomo said.

Helping craftspeople out by giving them access to sustainable wood and markets is the next step, he added, and SVLK or FLEGT licensing can help with both.

“If we see these teak trees standing tall there is huge potential to preserve the furniture industry in Jepara. And on Java small-scale forestry is actually developing rapidly. Many people are planting trees because the industry is good on Java. We want this to continue so we can preserve Java’s forests with economic incentives,” Purnomo said.

Read more: Linking sustainable supply, inclusive business models and innovative finance

A woodworking student practices his craft at a workshop that doubles as a classroom. Photo by Deanna Ramsay/CIFOR

CRAFTY

In an interview at a CIFOR workshop on the topic, Inah Nuroniah, head of the Department of Industry and Commerce in Jepara, said, “Jepara now has approximately 1.2 million people, and the furniture industry is the central source of income. We’re now working together to look for ways in which the furniture industry can better support small enterprises now and into the future.”

As Pak Tafrikhan put it, “Jepara must return to its earlier creativity,” as well as utilizing the wisdom of people centuries before who planted vast forests of teak with specific knowledge of the best land to allow the trees to flourish.

“We really hope this business community can always be creative and innovative together. So we’re not left behind by other regions or other competitors, because we’re now in the era of globalization; there’s Vietnam, there’s China; maybe there are other countries too who are our competitors,” Nuroniah said.

“It’s these challenges that we must turn into opportunities; how we can improve performance into the future, improve quality, be more innovative, be more creative – together with the regional government we can do all of that,” she added.

Pak Trisno circled back to the forests themselves, the trees that are sustaining this unique corner of the world. “My long-term hope is for there to be wood so the timber, the raw materials can be renewed. So we should plant them as well – not just cut down and use trees.”

By Deanna Ramsay, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Herry Purnomo at [email protected].


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

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

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  • Silviculture techniques help farmers improve incomes, develop more productive agricultural systems

Silviculture techniques help farmers improve incomes, develop more productive agricultural systems

Staff measure timber volume in a demonstration plot in Gunung Kidul. Photo by Riyandoko/ICRAF
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Staff measure timber volume in a demonstration plot in Gunung Kidul. Photo by Riyandoko/ICRAF

Two new studies reveal the importance of silviculture for increasing farmers’ incomes in Java and East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Planting timber in agricultural systems is a common practice in Indonesia. Farmers often cultivate timber together with other crops to diversify and increase their incomes. Timber acts as a savings bank, only being harvested when large funds are needed. To ensure the best growth of timber, experts recommend that farmers practise silvicultural techniques, which, despite the numerous benefits, are still not widely adopted.

In Gunung Kidul in the province of Yogyakarta and in Sumbawa and South-central Timor in East Nusa Tenggara province, researchers in the Developing and Promoting Market-based Agroforestry Options and Integrated Landscape Management for Smallholder Forestry in Indonesia project explored the factors that encouraged farmers to adopt silvicultural techniques.

Their findings have been published in Agroforestry Systems: Adoption of silvicultural practices in smallholder timber and NTFPs production systems in Indonesia. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

“At the research sites, timber and non-timber forest products contributed significantly to the economy,” said Gerhard Manurung, research leader and agroforestry scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Indonesia. “We found that the most important factors affecting whether farmers would use silvicultural techniques or not were ease of access to the knowledge found in forestry extension services and farmers’ groups, how well they understood government policies on timber and non-timber forest products [NTFPs], the number of land parcels held by each farmer, and the number of tree and other species that the farmer managed.”

He pointed out that most available research on silvicultural practices was usually done in the context of natural forests, whereas this study offered a fresh perspective because it focused on agroforestry systems, or trees on farms.

Silviculture helps farmers develop more productive systems and reap greater benefits. For example, pruning leads to knot-free timber, which attracts premium prices; thinning young trees so that the remaining trees do not have as much competition for light and nutrients generates the highest percentage of heartwood volume, meaning bigger trees for harvest and more timber to sell; and intercropping teak with nitrogen-fixing shrubs helps to increase the trees’ diameter while at the same time improving soil conditions, which facilitates faster and stronger growth and bigger trees.

A staff member prunes a teak tree. Photo by Riyandoko/ICRAF

Timber and NTFPs contributed more than 60 percent to household incomes at the three sites, which was greater than that from agricultural and plantation crops, yet the adoption of silviculture remained low. The researchers found that a lack of resources and access to information stopped farmers from adopting better practices. In Sumbawa and South-central Timor, when there was more access to forestry extension services and farmers’ groups where knowledge was exchanged, the likelihood of farmers adopting better silvicultural practices rose 2–4 times.

The researchers recommended that policymakers, researchers and extension providers should collaborate more robustly, using approaches that put farmers’ livelihoods at the forefront. Research and training should incorporate participatory techniques, which are renowned for their success in fostering problem-solving skills and speeding learning. Additionally, government research centres should provide on-farm support, such as demonstration plots, that allowed farmers to observe changes brought about by improved techniques.

In terms of policies, the researchers proposed that governments encourage intensification of smallholders’ tree products through intercropping, which escalates the rate of adoption. Regulations on the sale of tree products should be simplified and information provided about grading and pricing mechanisms.

The other study, The significance of planted teak for smallholder farmers, focused on Gunung Kidul, where teak is a valuable investment and an important part of cultural heritage. When grown together with other commercial crops, teak agroforestry systems in Gunung Kidul contributed 40 percent of household income.

Typically, teak produced by smallholders has a diameter of 30 centimeters, which is considered suboptimal by the industries in Jepara in Central Java that produce much of the nation’s teak furniture. Thinning trees helps to improve the size and quality of those that remain but often farmers are unwilling to thin because they fear they will lose income. Also, most farmers use wildlings, sourced from forests or natural regrowth on farms, instead of high-quality seedlings or seeds produced in nurseries. Wildlings typically do not grow as well as those produced by skilled nursery operators.

In Indonesia, the value chain for teak consists of smallholders, local traders, wholesalers and processors. Farmers typically sell logs at prices based on information from other farmers. There is a general lack of knowledge about market prices and grading systems, resulting in sales often below market value. Because traders bear the major risk in the transaction, they lower their offers to farmers so as to cover the cost of the risk.

Echoing Manurung and team’s findings, the researchers recommended the use of on-farm trials as a way of stimulating farmers’ interest in improvements. Further, silviculture needed to be aligned with farmers’ needs for short-, medium- and long-term income. For example, by thinning trees farmers could plant short-rotation tree species, which could be harvested in 5–8 years, in between the teak.

The researchers also urged the development of win-win partnerships between farmers and industry, with governments providing incentives and simplifying timber regulations. Information about price and quality needed to be widely disseminated along with silvicultural extension programs. Research centres and industries could provide access to high-quality seeds and seedlings.

By Enggar Paramita, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

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  • Carving a niche in the global market: The woodworkers of Jepara

Carving a niche in the global market: The woodworkers of Jepara

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Based on a long tradition of skilled family trade, the woodworking industry in Jepara, Indonesia, is branching out into global markets by investing in sustainable timber. With the national timber legality license now compatible with export licenses to the European Union, trade opportunities are expanding beyond borders. Scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are finding the connections between sustainable supply chains and better business for local people.

Originally published by CIFOR.

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

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  • What does restoring the world’s forests mean for women’s rights?

What does restoring the world’s forests mean for women’s rights?

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Around the world, millions of hectares of land are being reforested as part of global efforts to combat climate change, restore ecological integrity and improve human well-being.

But it’s not just a matter of planting trees on empty lands. As in any landscape, the areas where restoration efforts are taking place are overlaid with uses, histories and political dynamics – including different rights and responsibilities for men and women. Researchers are just beginning to look at the implications of Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) for gender equality.

The movement presents both challenges and opportunities for improving women’s rights, says Markus Ihalainen, a research officer at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the lead center of the CGIAR Research Program on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), with women’s access to land as a major issue.

“In a lot of countries you already have good policies, guaranteeing women’s rights to land,” he says. “But then you find on the ground both a lack in implementation and a lack of awareness of those rights, and often social pressure that hinders women from claiming the land rights they hold legally.”

At the same time, FLR offers opportunities for women to be better included in land-use decisions and to participate in planting and restoration work, with potential benefits for their overall well-being.

Watch: Restoring landscapes, respecting rights

Research from Mali shows there are opportunities to leverage synergies between restoration and women’s well-being, and that restoration options involving certain indigenous species, as opposed to fast-growing timber species, can enhance women’s adaptive capacities,” Ihalainen says.

“But unlocking this potential often requires identifying, negotiating and reconciling trade-offs between different restoration goals. That is why it is so important to conduct a thorough gender analysis and involve women as stakeholders in the process,” he adds.

In a conversation with Forests News, Ihalainen shared more about the ongoing research on gender and restoration, and how it’s being put into practice around the world.

You just released a brief on gender and Forest Landscape Restoration. Can you tell us about that?

FLR is gaining a lot of political momentum, and there’s a lot of focus on it now. But in terms of gender and FLR, the discussion so far has been quite general and quite broad. And so what we have been interested in doing is to really look at what is happening on the ground: What are some of the ways in which FLR is implemented on the ground? What are some of the concrete challenges and opportunities to address gender equality? And really have a grounding discussion about that.

In terms of literature on gender and FLR, it’s still quite thin. Even FLR as a concept, in terms of what it’s become now – there’s quite little solid research on that. So what we wanted to do was to look at the broader literature, including the literature on REDD+ and other initiatives, and to really look at what some of the key entry points are for gender analysis when it comes to FLR.

And so we posed questions such as: What are some of the key risks to women’s rights? What are some of the possible synergies between various restoration goals and gender equality? And also looked at some of the trade-offs, and how they can be reconciled.

A woman carries gnetum in Minwoho, Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

And what did you find?

A big issue for gender and FLR is around land tenure. That is, on what land is restoration taking place? In areas where women don’t have land titles they’re not necessarily included as stakeholders in the FLR process at all. Then again, in many countries or in many contexts you have women planting trees, you have women nursing the seedlings, but in 20 years’ time it might be that they’re not able to reap the benefits.

We had a very telling example of this during a recent workshop in Nairobi, where Janet Chihanga from the Komaza Foundation had been working with women on the coast of Kenya to restore and plant trees in degraded lands that weren’t really claimed by anyone.

She found that some eight years later — when it wasn’t even time for harvesting, but just thinning — the men who previously showed no interest in the land which the women had been working on for all this time, suddenly turned up and claimed the land. Because there were trees there.

Read more: Gender integration and gender-responsive research

What does the research suggest for action going forward?

I think what’s really important is to look at what is actually happening on the ground. That is really what needs to inform this discussion. It is a long process and it will require everything from policy to addressing issues to do with the implementation of policy, to changing and transforming norms on the ground.

That will, of course, require the collaboration of a lot of different partners. It won’t necessarily happen overnight, but I think in the short term with restoration initiatives, some of the really critical things will be to implement and ensure that the principles of FPIC — or free, prior and informed consent — are upheld and implemented in a gender-responsive way.

What needs to be done next?

When we look at FLR and gender, because there are so many stakeholders involved, and because there are so many different approaches, it’s very difficult to make a broad statement about what needs to be done.

But I think one of the reasons for me, personally, why I am engaged in this, is because this is really an opportunity to bring these issues up to the forefront of discussions.

Now there is a lot of focus — a lot of political emphasis — on these areas, these lands, that have not necessarily been the priority of a lot of policymakers for a long time. Now there’s more and more emphasis on these areas, and so bringing the issues of rights and gender equality into that discussion is really critical.

And it’s a good opportunity to do that now.

Read more: Gender equality and social inclusion

By Deanna Ramsay and Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Markus Ihalainen at [email protected].


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

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government.

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  • Beyond timber: balancing demands for tree resources between concessionaires and villagers

Beyond timber: balancing demands for tree resources between concessionaires and villagers

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Extensive areas of the Congo Basin forest are allocated to timber concessionaires. These forests also harbour and support village populations, including indigenous Baka people, who depend on forest foods obtained directly from trees (fruits, oils and caterpillars). Most food-producing tree species are harvested by concessionaires for timber. We documented the availability and abundance of three food tree species around four villages and in two neighboring timber concessions in Cameroon. Data was used to determine the importance of timber concessions as sources of food for local people to provide a foundation for governance arrangements that consider local needs for foods from timber trees. Discussions with concessionaires revealed that some of them have voluntarily refrained from extracting timber species of interest to villagers for their nontimber products. This is either to avoid conflict with villagers, or because regulations have been promulgated to safeguard these resources. The interplay between internal village dynamics, regulations and their implementation by forest guards, and the actions of timber concessions create a complex arena for addressing rights to forest resources. This paper provides information on the accessibility and availability of multiple use timber species as a foundation for negotiations and governance arrangements between concessionaires and local communities.

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  • Tree plantations could help Peru meet forest restoration goal

Tree plantations could help Peru meet forest restoration goal

A regenerated forest and agroforestry system is seen in the Nueva Ahuaypa indigenous community area in Peru. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A regenerated forest and agroforestry system is seen in the Nueva Ahuaypa indigenous community area in Peru. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

Peru has set a goal of restoring forest on some 3 million hectares of degraded land, but the country still lags behind its neighbors when it comes to scaling up tree plantations to meet both environmental and societal needs.

Although tree plantations could provide ecosystem services, as well as income for communities and businesses, there is a need for more research, training, financial and fiscal incentives, and secure land tenure, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) that was also supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

“At present, it is estimated that about one-third of the global demand for sawn timber is satisfied by commercial tree plantations, and this proportion is expected to increase over time,” says Manuel Guariguata, CIFOR principal scientist and leader on forest management and restoration, and the lead author of the study.

Many countries have begun promoting plantation forestry rather than timber from natural forests, and Peru is taking initial steps in the same direction. Some progress has been made in recent years, with simpler regulations for tree plantations and several model projects, but the country still needs a long-range roadmap for realizing the potential of forest plantations in the coming decades, Guariguata says.

Peru’s forestry legislation has historically emphasized timber production from government-sanctioned concessions across its Amazonian natural forests, rather than plantations. But well-managed plantations could yield a greater return than production in natural forests, says Héctor Cisneros, coordinator of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s forestry program in Peru.

“Peru has a very rich tropical forest, but it is complicated from the standpoint of forestry production,” he says. “Plantations should be a tool for helping to protect  the natural forest. If the industry is more closely tied to tree plantations, that will reduce pressure on natural forests.”

Plantations can produce a greater volume of timber per hectare because managers can ensure uniformity in growth, diameter at harvest, and timber quality, Cisneros says. But that requires access to high-quality genetic material, adequate soils, and managers and workers trained to manage the entire value chain, from plantation to consumer.

Read also: Farm-forestry in the Peruvian Amazon and the feasibility of its regulation through forest policy reform

RESEARCH NEEDED TO BOOST GROWTH

Although 15 Peruvian universities offer forestry majors, none has a specialty in tree plantation management, and the few courses that are offered are insufficient to meet the need for trained personnel, says Carlos Llerena, dean of the School of Forestry Sciences at La Molina National Agrarian University in Lima.

The limited area under tree plantations in Peru, estimated at just a few tens of thousands of hectares, means there are few jobs for specialists, he says. At the same time, the lack of specialists also slows development of additional plantations.

A forest trail in the Unamat forest, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by Marco Simola/CIFOR

Universities could help break that vicious circle by providing more detailed information about species, helping students obtain fellowships to study with experts abroad and return to Peru to apply their knowledge, and working with sub-national governments that seek to promote tree plantations, Llerena said during a panel discussion at the presentation of the CIFOR study in Lima in June 2017.

Universities can also contribute to improving the quality of timber from plantations, through research to improve both genetic material and timber management techniques. Peru’s National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) also plays a role, with experimental plots in different types of ecosystems around the country, Eloy Cuellar, who heads INIA’s Agrarian Technological Development Office, said during the panel discussion.

Peru’s varied ecosystems — from the dry desert coast to the Andes Mountains to the Amazonian — offer possibilities for different types of plantations, using both native and introduced species, says Leoncio Ugarte, director of forest studies and research at Peru’s National Forest Service (SERFOR).

While some plantations could produce timber for industrial use, others could meet different needs. In the Andean highlands, where only relicts of native forests remain, plantations of native species could help protect the upper parts of watersheds, providing ecosystem services for water users downstream.

Instead of harvesting the timber, communities or other landowners in those areas could receive payment for the ecosystem services their plantations provide, Ugarte says.

Read also: Reclaiming collective rights: land and forest tenure reforms in Peru (1960-2016)

TENURE, ZONING ARE CRUCIAL

Although Peru has millions of hectares of degraded land that could be used for plantations, some regulatory hurdles hamper the sector’s expansion.

First is the lack of a clear definition of “degraded”, Ugarte says.

SERFOR is currently conducting a detailed calculation of the area suitable for tree plantations. Because different species have different needs and some are better adapted than others to different soil types and climate niches, planners must consider which species are best suited for various areas of the country, Ugarte says.

That implies land-use planning on a broad scale — designating certain areas for agriculture, forestry concessions, protective forest and plantations, for example — as well as more local zoning, to determine which species are most suitable based on soil type, precipitation and other factors.

Most of the area suitable for tree plantations is likely to consist of relatively small fragments, rather than large, continuous expanses suitable for large plantations, he says. Some may be in the hands of smallholders, while others may be located in indigenous communities. In many cases, land ownership may not be clear, which is a disincentive to private investors interested in the tree plantation business.

Ensuring clear tenure is crucial for plantations, where producers require long-range investment over two to four decades, Ugarte says. Lack of clarity about land tenure can lead to social conflicts over plantations. Once tenure is clear, however, financial incentives can be designed for different types of plantations at different scales.

“People who invest in tree plantations seek to diversify their portfolio and make a profit, but they are also committed to climate change mitigation,” says Robert Hereña, general manager of Reforestadora Bánati Bosque S.A.C., a company growing teak in central Peru.

“They also know this can result in social benefits, because tree plantations are often installed in areas where a large percentage of the population lives in poverty or extreme poverty,” Hereña said during the panel discussion.

Small-scale tree producers can also play an important role across the value chain, but they need technical assistance, financing schemes appropriate for local conditions and needs, and access to markets. Private investors could also partner with indigenous communities in the Andean highlands or the Amazon region to develop plantations, although that will require building trust between the private sector and communities, which often distrust each other, the FAO’s Cisneros says.

Read also: Long road ahead to indigenous land and forest rights in Peru

An indigenous woman harvests goods in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

TARGETING FUTURE MARKET NEEDS

In planning industrial tree plantations at a small or medium scale, investors and operators must consider future market needs, says Jessica Moscoso, executive director of CITE Madera, a government-sponsored technological innovation center that focuses on sustainable timber products and assistance to furniture makers in a Lima industrial park.

Too often, plantation operators focus on the species they could grow, rather than on the species required to manufacture specific products that the market demands—or which it may need in 15 to 30 years, when the trees are ready for harvest, Moscoso said during the panel discussion.

“Plantations allow us to tailor supply to demand,” she says, adding that they also enable growers to project future needs and scale up timber volumes. “It is extremely important that we define what we want to plant, focusing on future demand.”

That implies developing — and training personnel for — the entire market chain, Cisneros says. Most plantations currently produce sawn wood, but Peru could emulate neighboring Brazil and Chile, where the industry also produces wood chips, pulp and even paper, he says.

The CIFOR study concludes that Peru still lacks a clear road map for developing the tree plantation sector so it can contribute to the country’s restoration and climate change mitigation commitments.

Planning must include not just the National Forest Service and Ministry of Agriculture, but also ministries with responsibility for economy and finance, production and trade. And it needs a long-range vision that continues from one government administration to the next.

The country should establish varied pilot initiatives in different ecoregions, which can serve as models, allowing planners to choose the ones with potential for scaling up at the subnational or national levels, Cisneros says.

All of those steps will contribute to the road map, which he says will be constructed “little by little.”

By Barbara Fraser, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Manuel R. Guariguata at [email protected].


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

  • Home
  • Tree plantations could help Peru meet forest restoration goal

Tree plantations could help Peru meet forest restoration goal

A regenerated forest and agroforestry system is seen in the Nueva Ahuaypa indigenous community area in Peru. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A regenerated forest and agroforestry system is seen in the Nueva Ahuaypa indigenous community area in Peru. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

Peru has set a goal of restoring forest on some 3 million hectares of degraded land, but the country still lags behind its neighbors when it comes to scaling up tree plantations to meet both environmental and societal needs.

Although tree plantations could provide ecosystem services, as well as income for communities and businesses, there is a need for more research, training, financial and fiscal incentives, and secure land tenure, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) that was also supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

“At present, it is estimated that about one-third of the global demand for sawn timber is satisfied by commercial tree plantations, and this proportion is expected to increase over time,” says Manuel Guariguata, CIFOR principal scientist and leader on forest management and restoration, and the lead author of the study.

Many countries have begun promoting plantation forestry rather than timber from natural forests, and Peru is taking initial steps in the same direction. Some progress has been made in recent years, with simpler regulations for tree plantations and several model projects, but the country still needs a long-range roadmap for realizing the potential of forest plantations in the coming decades, Guariguata says.

Peru’s forestry legislation has historically emphasized timber production from government-sanctioned concessions across its Amazonian natural forests, rather than plantations. But well-managed plantations could yield a greater return than production in natural forests, says Héctor Cisneros, coordinator of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s forestry program in Peru.

“Peru has a very rich tropical forest, but it is complicated from the standpoint of forestry production,” he says. “Plantations should be a tool for helping to protect  the natural forest. If the industry is more closely tied to tree plantations, that will reduce pressure on natural forests.”

Plantations can produce a greater volume of timber per hectare because managers can ensure uniformity in growth, diameter at harvest, and timber quality, Cisneros says. But that requires access to high-quality genetic material, adequate soils, and managers and workers trained to manage the entire value chain, from plantation to consumer.

Read also: Farm-forestry in the Peruvian Amazon and the feasibility of its regulation through forest policy reform

RESEARCH NEEDED TO BOOST GROWTH

Although 15 Peruvian universities offer forestry majors, none has a specialty in tree plantation management, and the few courses that are offered are insufficient to meet the need for trained personnel, says Carlos Llerena, dean of the School of Forestry Sciences at La Molina National Agrarian University in Lima.

The limited area under tree plantations in Peru, estimated at just a few tens of thousands of hectares, means there are few jobs for specialists, he says. At the same time, the lack of specialists also slows development of additional plantations.

A forest trail in the Unamat forest, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by Marco Simola/CIFOR

Universities could help break that vicious circle by providing more detailed information about species, helping students obtain fellowships to study with experts abroad and return to Peru to apply their knowledge, and working with sub-national governments that seek to promote tree plantations, Llerena said during a panel discussion at the presentation of the CIFOR study in Lima in June 2017.

Universities can also contribute to improving the quality of timber from plantations, through research to improve both genetic material and timber management techniques. Peru’s National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) also plays a role, with experimental plots in different types of ecosystems around the country, Eloy Cuellar, who heads INIA’s Agrarian Technological Development Office, said during the panel discussion.

Peru’s varied ecosystems — from the dry desert coast to the Andes Mountains to the Amazonian — offer possibilities for different types of plantations, using both native and introduced species, says Leoncio Ugarte, director of forest studies and research at Peru’s National Forest Service (SERFOR).

While some plantations could produce timber for industrial use, others could meet different needs. In the Andean highlands, where only relicts of native forests remain, plantations of native species could help protect the upper parts of watersheds, providing ecosystem services for water users downstream.

Instead of harvesting the timber, communities or other landowners in those areas could receive payment for the ecosystem services their plantations provide, Ugarte says.

Read also: Reclaiming collective rights: land and forest tenure reforms in Peru (1960-2016)

TENURE, ZONING ARE CRUCIAL

Although Peru has millions of hectares of degraded land that could be used for plantations, some regulatory hurdles hamper the sector’s expansion.

First is the lack of a clear definition of “degraded”, Ugarte says.

SERFOR is currently conducting a detailed calculation of the area suitable for tree plantations. Because different species have different needs and some are better adapted than others to different soil types and climate niches, planners must consider which species are best suited for various areas of the country, Ugarte says.

That implies land-use planning on a broad scale — designating certain areas for agriculture, forestry concessions, protective forest and plantations, for example — as well as more local zoning, to determine which species are most suitable based on soil type, precipitation and other factors.

Most of the area suitable for tree plantations is likely to consist of relatively small fragments, rather than large, continuous expanses suitable for large plantations, he says. Some may be in the hands of smallholders, while others may be located in indigenous communities. In many cases, land ownership may not be clear, which is a disincentive to private investors interested in the tree plantation business.

Ensuring clear tenure is crucial for plantations, where producers require long-range investment over two to four decades, Ugarte says. Lack of clarity about land tenure can lead to social conflicts over plantations. Once tenure is clear, however, financial incentives can be designed for different types of plantations at different scales.

“People who invest in tree plantations seek to diversify their portfolio and make a profit, but they are also committed to climate change mitigation,” says Robert Hereña, general manager of Reforestadora Bánati Bosque S.A.C., a company growing teak in central Peru.

“They also know this can result in social benefits, because tree plantations are often installed in areas where a large percentage of the population lives in poverty or extreme poverty,” Hereña said during the panel discussion.

Small-scale tree producers can also play an important role across the value chain, but they need technical assistance, financing schemes appropriate for local conditions and needs, and access to markets. Private investors could also partner with indigenous communities in the Andean highlands or the Amazon region to develop plantations, although that will require building trust between the private sector and communities, which often distrust each other, the FAO’s Cisneros says.

Read also: Long road ahead to indigenous land and forest rights in Peru

An indigenous woman harvests goods in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

TARGETING FUTURE MARKET NEEDS

In planning industrial tree plantations at a small or medium scale, investors and operators must consider future market needs, says Jessica Moscoso, executive director of CITE Madera, a government-sponsored technological innovation center that focuses on sustainable timber products and assistance to furniture makers in a Lima industrial park.

Too often, plantation operators focus on the species they could grow, rather than on the species required to manufacture specific products that the market demands—or which it may need in 15 to 30 years, when the trees are ready for harvest, Moscoso said during the panel discussion.

“Plantations allow us to tailor supply to demand,” she says, adding that they also enable growers to project future needs and scale up timber volumes. “It is extremely important that we define what we want to plant, focusing on future demand.”

That implies developing — and training personnel for — the entire market chain, Cisneros says. Most plantations currently produce sawn wood, but Peru could emulate neighboring Brazil and Chile, where the industry also produces wood chips, pulp and even paper, he says.

The CIFOR study concludes that Peru still lacks a clear road map for developing the tree plantation sector so it can contribute to the country’s restoration and climate change mitigation commitments.

Planning must include not just the National Forest Service and Ministry of Agriculture, but also ministries with responsibility for economy and finance, production and trade. And it needs a long-range vision that continues from one government administration to the next.

The country should establish varied pilot initiatives in different ecoregions, which can serve as models, allowing planners to choose the ones with potential for scaling up at the subnational or national levels, Cisneros says.

All of those steps will contribute to the road map, which he says will be constructed “little by little.”

By Barbara Fraser, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Manuel R. Guariguata at [email protected].


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


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