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Trees nurture nutrition

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Pepper fruit in Nigeria. Photo by World Agroforestry

World Agroforestry’s (ICRAF) Food Tree and Crop Portfolio helps with the selection of food-tree species along with complementary vegetable, pulse and staple crops.

Foods from farms with trees — also known as agroforestry — are dense with nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils complement, and diversify, diets based on staple foods like rice, wheat and maize. This range of foods increases the nutritional quality of local diets, mostly owing to their micronutrients — mineral and vitamins — but also macronutrients, such as protein and carbohydrates.

Furthermore, these nutritional benefits can be available year-round and during periods of drought thanks to trees’ deep and extensive roots. Their roots make trees more resilient. This quality also helps tree foods bridge the ‘hunger gap’ that can occur before harvests of annual crops.

To fully harness the benefits of trees, ICRAF has developed an approach called the Food Tree and Crop Portfolio. The portfolio helps with the selection of socioecologically suitable and nutritionally important food-tree species along with complementary vegetable, pulse and staple crops.

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

Agnes Gachuiri of World Agroforestry works with farmers to set priorities for food trees in Kenya. Photo by World Agroforestry

The portfolios are a combination of indigenous and exotic species that are site-specific. Several aspects are assessed in each portfolio, such as diversity of on-farm food production, and food composition and consumption; the harvest months of prioritised food-tree and crop species are mapped against periods of food insecurity; and nutrient gaps can be filled by matching foods with nutrient-content data.

The successful adoption of a food-tree portfolio depends on several enabling and constraining factors that determine what farmers decide to plant and how the produce will be used. Farmers typically have a wealth of knowledge about food-tree species. They often prioritize their cultivation and use according to gender and age-related needs, interests and constraints that can sometimes be neglected in research-in-development projects.

Accordingly, central to the portfolio concept and its adoption into landscapes is understanding farmers’ preferences. Through the Agro-biodiversity and Landscape Restoration for Food Security and Nutrition in East Africa project, which is funded by the European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, these have been carefully documented and used to inform portfolios in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

Particularly in the latter two countries, the project team has been able to better understand the availability of food trees as well as gendered and age-related priorities through the use of participatory-research methods.

A total of 57 food-tree species has been recorded: 47 in Uganda (including 58% exotic species) and 49 in Kenya (65% exotics). In both countries, knowledge of food-tree species differed by gender and age, with older women knowing the greatest number of species. In Uganda, the team found that older men preferred species used for timber and charcoal whereas women of all ages preferred species that were easily accessible and which played a role in providing children’s food. Both men and women valued food trees for their contribution to improved health and nutrition. But at all sites there was a preference for exotic species, such as mango (Mangifera indica), passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) and avocado (Persea americana).

Read also: Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

A diagram shows year-round fresh fruits. Courtesy of World Agroforestry

Younger women and men, in general, preferred species that were more marketable, although there were specific differences. Women in Kitui, Kenya, preferred species such as papaya (Carica papaya), chocolate berry (Vitex payos), guava (Psidium guajava) and tamarind (Tamarindus indica), which are sold in small quantities; men were not interested in them.

At both project sites in Kenya, women — especially older groups — preferred indigenous food trees more than men did, owing to their role in meeting household nutrition needs, especially as food for children, and for firewood and medicines. However, these species were reported to have poor markets.

The diversity of motivations and preferences are an indication of the complexities behind farmers’ decisions to plant certain trees and hint at the dynamic role played by intrahousehold decision-making in determining which preferences and needs are prioritized.

Previous studies in Kenya have shown that households often prioritized the sale of tree foods for income generation ahead of domestic consumption.  The income earned from the sales was often spent on food, mostly less nutritious foods such as starchy staples. However, farmers usually expressed a desire to consume more fruit and, as was also found by the project team, they would like to plant more food trees.

When asked about the constraints to do so, farmers typically referred to a lack of seedlings — especially improved varieties — prolonged droughts and scarcity of land. Some of these constraints were gendered as well, with more younger women mentioning a lack of knowledge about planting and management as well as cultural restrictions, such as only having access to land when married; whereas younger men indicated the challenges of pests, limited markets, and land scarcity and ownership.

The project has also captured information on patterns of food consumption and the potential for marketing priority tree foods and crops. This information will link to the findings from gender-responsive, priority-setting activities to further explore the interactions between decision-making dynamics, food choices and food-tree and crop cultivation across farming landscapes in the region.

Based on the evidence generated by gender-sensitive, participatory research, the project team is developing site-specific interventions informed by local knowledge, preferences, needs and constraints to optimize the benefits of cultivating a diversity of food trees and crops to meet seasonal food needs, and enhance the availability of more nutritious foods.

Related reading:

By Ana Maria Paez-Valencia, ICRAF social scientist.


Produced by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) as 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 do gender norms, innovation and trees have to do with each other?

What do gender norms, innovation and trees have to do with each other?

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Women prepare lunch in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Augusta/CIFOR

Gender researchers present findings from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that shed light on how gender norms shape, and are influenced by, forest and tree-based innovation processes.

A new report based on case studies from the GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation comparative qualitative research initiative presents findings from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that shed light on how gender norms shape, and are influenced by, forest and tree-based innovation processes.

An estimated 1.6 billion people live in and around and depend in part or in full from forests for their livelihoods and well-being. Yet, the benefits from forests, trees and agroforests are unequally distributed across communities based on the gender, socioeconomic status, generation or age, and other social characteristics of their members. These inequalities make it even more difficult for already disadvantaged groups to benefit from new opportunities and innovations in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM).

Innovation processes related to agricultural and NRM — whether centered on technologies (e.g. hybrid seed or mechanization) or institutions (e.g. new knowledge applied to NRM or ways of organizing production) — can reduce some of these inequalities, or they can exacerbate them. And gender norms, or the social ‘rules’ that determine appropriate behaviour for men and women, that maintain these inequalities can hinder women’s capacities to innovate. For example, norms that pose constraints on women’s mobility or labour or that make it socially inappropriate for women farmers to interact with men extension agents in some contexts, can make it difficult for them to try out and adopt new practices.

The report, whose co-authors are from Bioversity International, University of Brighton, CIFOR, and University of Indonesia, contributes to the GENNOVATE comparative study.

Rural livelihoods worldwide are changing

This is due to various factors, including migration, new markets, and new agricultural and NRM technologies, institutions, and practices. The newly released report Understanding gendered innovation processes in forest landscapes: Case studies from Indonesia and Kyrgyz Republic highlights how gender norms as well as local women’s and men’s agency (the ability to make and act upon decisions that shape the direction of one’s life) influence how forest dwellers experience these processes.

In Indonesia, commercial investments in oil palm offer some new wage work opportunities, but supplant other forms of livelihoods and access to resources. In Kyrgyzstan, new opportunities and challenges are emerging because of the country’s integration into a market economy and because of changes in forest tenure (ownership and access) regimes. In both countries, these changes have uneven effects for women and men, young and old, richer and poorer community members; and these different groups have unequal abilities to try out, adopt, or adapt innovations. The report highlights the importance of considering and addressing those differences and their underlying causes in project design and implementation.

The study finds that gender norms affect men’s and women’s agency and capacities and priorities for innovation. Photo by M. Elias/Bioversity International

Some of the main findings of the report are that:

  • Gender norms affect men’s and women’s agency and capacities and priorities for innovation
  • Gender norms influence who has access to information, decision-making power, and land, labour and capital. As these typically favour (better off and older) men, while women — and particularly those disadvantaged by their ethnicity or caste, socioeconomic status, generation or age, or marital status — are less able to take advantage of what new opportunities may arise
  • Gender norms and innovation interact dynamically, and both shift over time and place. Gender roles, rights and responsibilities can be renegotiated because of innovations that change what it means to be a woman or a man in a given environment.

In light of these findings, how can we better support men’s and women’s ability to lead the lives that hold value to them?

The authors argue for gender-responsive and transformative initiatives that can equitably support men’s and women’s capacities to learn about, engage in, and lead innovation processes. To achieve this, they suggest:

  • Supporting women’s collectives that can work towards changes in gender norms that disadvantage women
  • Including men in interventions that seek to promote gender equality, to harness their support
  • Recognizing the diversity that exists among men and among women, and adopting strategies that can support differentiated groups of women and men according to their own priorities and circumstances
  • Capitalizing on ongoing changes in gender norms caused by many drivers of change (e.g. the formal schooling of girls, new policies, institutions and markets, etc.) and creating a dialogue around them to support greater gender equality
  • Supporting a critical mass of champions for change acting as role models to bring about transformations in livelihoods and gender norms
  • Carefully monitoring and mitigating possible forms of exclusion that can arise from innovation processes, which can reproduce inequalities.

Read the report: Understanding gendered innovation processes in forest-based landscapes: Case studies from Indonesia and Kyrgyz Republic

By Giulia Micheletti and Marlène Elias, originally published by Bioversity International.

For more information, contact Marlène Elias.


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

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  • Mapping conservation priorities for Asian tree species

Mapping conservation priorities for Asian tree species

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Decades of water erosion have sculpted this piece of Borneo ironwood, one of the world’s most durable timbers. Photo by R. Jalonen/Bioversity International

A new regional initiative is providing practitioners with tools for deciding where to focus conservation and restoration efforts.

The challenge: valuable tree species are under threat

Unsustainable extraction, along with changes in land uses and the climate, is threatening thousands of socioeconomically valuable tree species across Asia. These species urgently need conservation and restoration to help meet future needs for food, fuel and fiber in the world’s most populous region.

Yet, very little information is available about their historical and current distribution, patterns of genetic diversity, intensity of threats across their distribution ranges, or availability of seed sources to support restoration. Effective conservation strategies for these species and their genetic resources cannot be implemented without improving knowledge on the species’ distributions and the threats they are facing.

The solution: fill the knowledge gap

A new regional initiative is setting out to fill these gaps by producing up-to-date information on the distributions of valuable tree species and the threats to them, and guidance to develop conservation strategies that help maintain the genetic diversity and adaptive capacity of the species.

The Geographic Information for Conserving Native Tree Species and Their Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific (APFORGIS) initiative is being coordinated by Bioversity International and implemented in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Programme (APFORGEN). The initiative contributes directly to APFORGEN’s new strategy for 2018-2022, which has named improving the availability and accessibility of species information as one of the network’s key objectives for the next five years.

50 pilot tree species

Tree species experts from across the region have identified 50 pilot species for APFORGIS, based on existing national priority species lists, socioeconomic importance and conservation status, and the diversity of species traits such as pollen and seed dispersal patterns, including:

  • Kokum (Clusiaceae: Garcinia indica), widely used for its edible fruits, seed oil and medicinal values, and an important source of income for rural communities, but rapidly declining in the wild.
  • Gamboge species which are dioecious (having separate male and female trees) – conservation guidelines need to consider sex ratios and larger than usual population sizes to avoid inbreeding.
  • Borneo Ironwood (Lauraceae: Eusideroxylon zwageri), as its name suggests, is one of the most durable and heaviest timber species in the world, used for centuries for building ships, docks and houses fit for humid tropical conditions. Ironwood grows very slowly and its seed are dispersed mainly by gravity in the vicinity of the mother trees, making the species vulnerable for genetic erosion. Many anecdotes about the iconic species’ decline exist, yet it does not have an accurate conservation status or specific conservation strategies in place.

Methods, tools and capacities developed for these and other species can be used by forest departments, research institutions and conservation organizations for other species of interest with similar characteristics.

Knowledge to inform conservation strategies

A woman samples Borneo Ironwood for genetic analysis in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Photo by R. Jalonen/Bioversity International

“Current lack of knowledge about these and other pilot species illustrates the conservation challenges in the vast and extremely diverse Asian region,” says Riina Jalonen, who is coordinating the initiative.

“Thirty-seven percent of the pilot species have never been assessed for their conservation status despite of their socioeconomic importance, and another 31 percent were last assessed in the 1990s. Of the species assessed in the past 10 years, three-quarters are threatened.”

APFORGIS uses existing information about the species occurrences and threats to them to develop species distribution models. The models give an estimate of historical, current and potential future distributions. The resulting maps will be validated by experts and used for identifying conservation priorities. They can also be used to design and target field studies in the future.

Regional species distribution and threat maps developed by APFORGIS will help to:

  • Identify centers of species diversity to optimize conservation efforts
  • Assess how well the current protected areas cover the priority areas for conservation
  • Identify areas where species populations may be most threatened by climate change
  • Identify seed transfer zones and adequacy of existing seed sources for tree planting and forest restoration
  • Plan studies on genetic diversity and provenance trials that are representative of the species’ range and the variation in environmental conditions

What’s next?

Based on up-to-date information about the species distributions and threats to them, the project will then develop guidelines for conservation units that maintain genetic diversity vital for the species survival, productivity and adaptive capacity. The units can also serve as sources of diverse and suitably adapted planting material, urgently needed for improving the success of forest restoration efforts.

Regional collaboration will allow countries share information and responsibilities in establishing and managing genetic conservation units. Fewer units are likely needed than if every country set up its own network, which helps to focus and sustain efforts over time.

The pilot species comprise:

  • Afzelia xylocarpa 
  • Ailanthus excelsa 
  • Albizia lebbeck 
  • Anisoptera costata 
  • Aquilaria crassna 
  • Aquilaria malaccensis 
  • Azadirachta indica 
  • Cinnamomum parthenoxylon 
  • Dalbergia cochinchinensis 
  • Dalbergia cultrata 
  • Dalbergia latifolia 
  • Dalbergia oliveri 
  • Dalbergia sissoo 
  • Dalbergia tonkinensis 
  • Diospyros cauliflora 
  • Dipterocarpus alatus 
  • Dipterocarpus grandiflorus 
  • Dipterocarpus turbinatus 
  • Dryobalanops aromatica 
  • Dyera costulata
  • Eurycoma longifolia 
  • Eusideroxylon zwageri 
  • Fagraea fragrans 
  • Garcinia indica 
  • Gluta usitata 
  • Gonystylus bancanus 
  • Hopea odorata 
  • Intsia bijuga 
  • Intsia palembanica 
  • Koompassia malaccensis 
  • Myristica malabarica 
  • Neolamarckia cadamba 
  • Parkia speciosa 
  • Pericopsis mooniana 
  • Phyllanthus emblica 
  • Pinus kesiya  
  • Pinus merkusii 
  • Podocarpus neriifolius 
  • Pometia pinnata 
  • Pongamia pinnata
  • Pterocarpus indicus 
  • Pterocarpus macrocarpus 
  • Santalum album 
  • Scaphium macropodum  
  • Shorea leprosula 
  • Shorea macrophylla 
  • Shorea ovalis 
  • Shorea parvifolia 
  • Shorea pinanga 
  • Shorea roxburghii 
  • Sindora siamensis 
  • Tectona grandis 
  • Terminalia chebula 
  • Vatica mangachapoi 
  • Xylia xylocarpa

To achieve conservation for the valuable tree species and their genetic diversity across Asia, the initiative needs help to gather information on the species’ known distributions, whether current or historical.

If you or your organization have data about the natural occurrences of the pilot species of APFORGIS, please contact Riina Jalonen [email protected] to find out how you can help.


Originally published on the website of Bioversity International

Geographic Information for Conserving Native Tree Species and Their Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific (APFORGIS) is a regional project implemented in Asian countries from December 2017 to November 2019. The project is coordinated by Bioversity International and implemented in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Programme (APFORGEN). The project is funded by the German Government through the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • Mapping conservation priorities for Asian tree species

Mapping conservation priorities for Asian tree species

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Decades of water erosion have sculpted this piece of Borneo ironwood, one of the world’s most durable timbers. Photo by R. Jalonen/Bioversity International

A new regional initiative is providing practitioners with tools for deciding where to focus conservation and restoration efforts.

The challenge: valuable tree species are under threat

Unsustainable extraction, along with changes in land uses and the climate, is threatening thousands of socioeconomically valuable tree species across Asia. These species urgently need conservation and restoration to help meet future needs for food, fuel and fiber in the world’s most populous region.

Yet, very little information is available about their historical and current distribution, patterns of genetic diversity, intensity of threats across their distribution ranges, or availability of seed sources to support restoration. Effective conservation strategies for these species and their genetic resources cannot be implemented without improving knowledge on the species’ distributions and the threats they are facing.

The solution: fill the knowledge gap

A new regional initiative is setting out to fill these gaps by producing up-to-date information on the distributions of valuable tree species and the threats to them, and guidance to develop conservation strategies that help maintain the genetic diversity and adaptive capacity of the species.

The Geographic Information for Conserving Native Tree Species and Their Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific (APFORGIS) initiative is being coordinated by Bioversity International and implemented in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Programme (APFORGEN). The initiative contributes directly to APFORGEN’s new strategy for 2018-2022, which has named improving the availability and accessibility of species information as one of the network’s key objectives for the next five years.

50 pilot tree species

Tree species experts from across the region have identified 50 pilot species for APFORGIS, based on existing national priority species lists, socioeconomic importance and conservation status, and the diversity of species traits such as pollen and seed dispersal patterns, including:

  • Kokum (Clusiaceae: Garcinia indica), widely used for its edible fruits, seed oil and medicinal values, and an important source of income for rural communities, but rapidly declining in the wild.
  • Gamboge species which are dioecious (having separate male and female trees) – conservation guidelines need to consider sex ratios and larger than usual population sizes to avoid inbreeding.
  • Borneo Ironwood (Lauraceae: Eusideroxylon zwageri), as its name suggests, is one of the most durable and heaviest timber species in the world, used for centuries for building ships, docks and houses fit for humid tropical conditions. Ironwood grows very slowly and its seed are dispersed mainly by gravity in the vicinity of the mother trees, making the species vulnerable for genetic erosion. Many anecdotes about the iconic species’ decline exist, yet it does not have an accurate conservation status or specific conservation strategies in place.

Methods, tools and capacities developed for these and other species can be used by forest departments, research institutions and conservation organizations for other species of interest with similar characteristics.

Knowledge to inform conservation strategies

A woman samples Borneo Ironwood for genetic analysis in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Photo by R. Jalonen/Bioversity International

“Current lack of knowledge about these and other pilot species illustrates the conservation challenges in the vast and extremely diverse Asian region,” says Riina Jalonen, who is coordinating the initiative.

“Thirty-seven percent of the pilot species have never been assessed for their conservation status despite of their socioeconomic importance, and another 31 percent were last assessed in the 1990s. Of the species assessed in the past 10 years, three-quarters are threatened.”

APFORGIS uses existing information about the species occurrences and threats to them to develop species distribution models. The models give an estimate of historical, current and potential future distributions. The resulting maps will be validated by experts and used for identifying conservation priorities. They can also be used to design and target field studies in the future.

Regional species distribution and threat maps developed by APFORGIS will help to:

  • Identify centers of species diversity to optimize conservation efforts
  • Assess how well the current protected areas cover the priority areas for conservation
  • Identify areas where species populations may be most threatened by climate change
  • Identify seed transfer zones and adequacy of existing seed sources for tree planting and forest restoration
  • Plan studies on genetic diversity and provenance trials that are representative of the species’ range and the variation in environmental conditions

What’s next?

Based on up-to-date information about the species distributions and threats to them, the project will then develop guidelines for conservation units that maintain genetic diversity vital for the species survival, productivity and adaptive capacity. The units can also serve as sources of diverse and suitably adapted planting material, urgently needed for improving the success of forest restoration efforts.

Regional collaboration will allow countries share information and responsibilities in establishing and managing genetic conservation units. Fewer units are likely needed than if every country set up its own network, which helps to focus and sustain efforts over time.

The pilot species comprise:

  • Afzelia xylocarpa 
  • Ailanthus excelsa 
  • Albizia lebbeck 
  • Anisoptera costata 
  • Aquilaria crassna 
  • Aquilaria malaccensis 
  • Azadirachta indica 
  • Cinnamomum parthenoxylon 
  • Dalbergia cochinchinensis 
  • Dalbergia cultrata 
  • Dalbergia latifolia 
  • Dalbergia oliveri 
  • Dalbergia sissoo 
  • Dalbergia tonkinensis 
  • Diospyros cauliflora 
  • Dipterocarpus alatus 
  • Dipterocarpus grandiflorus 
  • Dipterocarpus turbinatus 
  • Dryobalanops aromatica 
  • Dyera costulata
  • Eurycoma longifolia 
  • Eusideroxylon zwageri 
  • Fagraea fragrans 
  • Garcinia indica 
  • Gluta usitata 
  • Gonystylus bancanus 
  • Hopea odorata 
  • Intsia bijuga 
  • Intsia palembanica 
  • Koompassia malaccensis 
  • Myristica malabarica 
  • Neolamarckia cadamba 
  • Parkia speciosa 
  • Pericopsis mooniana 
  • Phyllanthus emblica 
  • Pinus kesiya  
  • Pinus merkusii 
  • Podocarpus neriifolius 
  • Pometia pinnata 
  • Pongamia pinnata
  • Pterocarpus indicus 
  • Pterocarpus macrocarpus 
  • Santalum album 
  • Scaphium macropodum  
  • Shorea leprosula 
  • Shorea macrophylla 
  • Shorea ovalis 
  • Shorea parvifolia 
  • Shorea pinanga 
  • Shorea roxburghii 
  • Sindora siamensis 
  • Tectona grandis 
  • Terminalia chebula 
  • Vatica mangachapoi 
  • Xylia xylocarpa

To achieve conservation for the valuable tree species and their genetic diversity across Asia, the initiative needs help to gather information on the species’ known distributions, whether current or historical.

If you or your organization have data about the natural occurrences of the pilot species of APFORGIS, please contact Riina Jalonen [email protected] to find out how you can help.


Originally published on the website of Bioversity International

Geographic Information for Conserving Native Tree Species and Their Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific (APFORGIS) is a regional project implemented in Asian countries from December 2017 to November 2019. The project is coordinated by Bioversity International and implemented in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Programme (APFORGEN). The project is funded by the German Government through the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Bridging molecular genetics and participatory research: how access and benefit-sharing stimulate interdisciplinary research for tropical biology and conservation

Bridging molecular genetics and participatory research: how access and benefit-sharing stimulate interdisciplinary research for tropical biology and conservation

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Molecular genetics research can benefit efforts to conserve the genetic diversity of tropical plant species. Clear and efficient procedures are needed to access DNA samples, while respecting tropical countries’ and local communities’ rights on genetic resource usage. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing, which took effect in 2014, provides an opportunity to establish such procedures. However, scientists are concerned that its emphasis on monetary gains restricts research focused on scientific, societal, and environmental benefits. Despite much political and scientific debate, few concrete cases have demonstrated the practical functioning of the Nagoya Protocol. This paper describes the first application of the Protocol in Guatemala, where it was used to grant permission to a non-commercial study on gene flow in mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) populations in the Maya Biosphere Reserve of Petén. On the basis of this study, we discuss five strategies to enhance the application of molecular genetics to conservation biology under the Nagoya Protocol: (1) generate short and standardized procedures; (2) enable science communication; (3) cultivate a common understanding between users, providers, and potential beneficiaries; (4) involve local research and practitioner organizations; and (5) integrate participatory research. Positive societal views on the application of molecular genetics to conservation biology generate further support for work in this discipline and promote adoption of research results for the conservation of genetic diversity of tropical plant species.

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  • Nutrition and trees in sub-Saharan Africa: Jennifer’s secret

Nutrition and trees in sub-Saharan Africa: Jennifer’s secret

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Not even Jennifer’s children know where she hides the chikanda. Why? The small, brownish orchid tubers are highly valued as a cultural delicacy among the Bemba people who live in the Luwingu district of northern Zambia. Overharvesting of chikanda for sale is an important issue in East and southern Africa, but local women have a way to harvest it sustainably. Jennifer explains why chikanda is so important in her culture.

Between 2013 and 2017, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) conducted a research project called ‘Nutrition and Trees in sub-Saharan Africa’ in five sites across several countries, looking at the contribution that forests and trees in landscapes make to the diets of mothers and their young children. One of these sites was in Luwingu, in northern Zambia. At the end of the project, women from different villages came together to showcase their recipes of traditional foods in a food fair hosted by Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture and CIFOR.

This video was produced by CIFOR.

This project was funded with UK aid from the UK government. This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Latest Agroforestry Species Switchboard offers additional plant databases

Latest Agroforestry Species Switchboard offers additional plant databases

Baobab (Adansonia digitata) tree. Get information on this and other tree species on the Agroforestry Species Switchboard. Photo by Stepha McMullin/ICRAF
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Baobab (Adansonia digitata) tree. Get information on this and other tree species on the Agroforestry Species Switchboard. Photo by Stepha McMullin/ICRAF
Baobab (Adansonia digitata) tree. Get information on this and other tree species on the Agroforestry Species Switchboard. Photo by Stepha McMullin/ICRAF

By Roeland Kindt and Ian Dawson, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

The Agroforestry Species Switchboard is a “one-stop-shop” to retrieve data about a particular plant species across a wide range of information sources. Its objective is to provide information that supports research on trees and tree-based development activities such as agroforestry and wider restoration initiatives.

The recently released Version 1.3 of the Switchboard documents the presence of more than 26,000 plant species across 24 web-based information sources. Where available, hyperlinks to individual species are given, providing an easy pathway to data on biology, value, ecology and many other important aspects of plants that determine their use and management. Version 1.3 of the Switchboard provides over 221,984 hyperlinks at species level.

A list of some of the databases available on the Agroforestry Species Switchboard. The databases have navigable links to further information on the listed species.

  • The RELMA-ICRAF Useful Trees was created in 2016 to provide species-based factsheets on the useful trees and shrubs of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Information assembled in earlier Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA)-ICRAF book publications has now been digitized. Information on the ecology, uses, propagation, management, local names and botanical names of trees is included.
  • The IUCN “Especies para restauración”, translated as species for restoration, contains factsheets on mostly Mesoamerican plant species. It provides information on botanical and local names, distributions, habitats, and propagation and silvicultural methods, with a view to supporting their use in restoration initiatives.
  • The USDA Food Composition Databases provides information on nutrient content for more than 8000 different food items.
  • The Wood Database provides profiles of a range of several hundred woods used globally, including information on specific gravity, modulus of rupture, shrinkage, grain and workability.
  • The PlantSearch is a global database of living plant, seed and tissue collection hosted by Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
  • The USDA National Plant Germplasm System database allows queries for germplasm and taxonomic information, and provides access to USDA National Plant Germplasm System more widely.

The most recent addition to the Agroforestry Species Switchboard is a link to the website of the African Orphan Crops Consortium that aims to sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 101 traditional African food crops to improve their nutritional content.

The developers of the Switchboard welcome feedback and are committed to further develop it with new links in future versions. Recommendations on species names that may need to be updated due to recent taxonomic revisions or suggestions for other databases to be linked to the Switchboard can be sent directly to the authors or to [email protected]


The Agroforestry Species Switchboard can be accessed via URL: http://www.worldagroforestry.org/products/switchboard/

Documentation for the Switchboard is available via URL: http://www.worldagroforestry.org/output/agroforestry-species-switchboard-13

Corrrect citation: Kindt R, John I, Ordonez J, Smith E, Orwa C, Mosoti B, Chege J, Dawson I, Harja D, Kehlenbeck K, Luedeling E, Lillesø J-P B, Muchugi A, Munjuga M, Mwanzia L, Sinclair F, Graudal L, Jamnadass R. 2016. Agroforestry Species Switchboard: a synthesis of information sources to support tree research and development activities. Version 1.3. World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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Long-term partnerships benefit research on tree genetic resources

The work on the African Orphan Crops Consortium includes partners such as Mars. Photo: Cathy Watson/ICRAF
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FTA

unknownIn the next phase starting in 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) will feature a new Flagship 1: Tree genetic resources to bridge production gaps and promote resilience. It includes elements of what is now Flagship 2 Management and conservation of forest and tree resources, coordinated by Laura Snook of Bioversity International. Before the start of Phase II, Ramni Jamnadass, Co-Leader, Tree Diversity, Domestication and Delivery at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Coordinator t of the future Flagship 1 reflects on the most important partnerships within her research area. Read more on partnerships here.

Tree genetic resources are crucial for productive and sustainable landscapes, but this importance is not yet universally recognized. Research in this area lacks coordination and appropriate investment; quality planting material needs to be developed and promoted more effectively for socio-economic and environmental benefits. Currently the tools and approaches to achieve this are inadequate.

One example of a fruitful partnership.
One example of a fruitful partnership.

With the restructuring of the Flagships, activities on safeguarding genetic diversity, domestication and delivery of planting material will be subsumed under a single Flagship. We’ll bring together work that was previously dispersed across different components of FTA. Key strategic partners in the new Flagship are ICRAF, Bioversity International (who previously led the Flagship) and the University of Copenhagen.

Like the other Flagships, we have partnerships with a range of advanced research institutions in Europe (such as the James Hutton Institute), America (such as the University of California, Davis) and elsewhere.

Noteworthy is the training program for 250 African plant breeders set up with the University of California, Davis, which sits under the partnership with the African Orphan Crops Consortium.

The work on the African Orphan Crops Consortium includes partners such as Mars. Photo: Cathy Watson/ICRAF
The work on the African Orphan Crops Consortium includes partners such as Mars. Photo: Cathy Watson/ICRAF

Recently, the University of New Hampshire has come on board, and we have been approached by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) that wants to expand their international work on orphan crops.

In terms of international organizations, we also a have very fruitful collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, on a range of initiatives such as the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been a really good partner.

There are some evolving partnerships, which will depend on mutual expectations and if we can meet each other’s, but it’s not at all about money. One such new partnership is with the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) where synergies exist within work on best approaches for germplasm improvement and delivery. INBAR will be a managing partner in the next phase of FTA.


Also read: Seeing the trees as well as the forest: the importance of managing forest genetic resources


I want to also highlight partnerships with the private sector, for example with Mars, Unilever, and Natura. The partnership with Mars is both upstream, on genomics to support breeding work under the African Orphan Crops Consortium; and downstream, on cocoa farm upgrading through the use of improved planting material in Cote d’Ivoire.

The engagement with Unilever has grown over almost 12 years. Such work has established a pathway for difficult species where there’s been no investment previously but where potential for market use is high.

More on partnerships:

Robert Nasi: Partnerships make forests, trees and agroforestry program work

Diversity, commitment, challenges and shared goals: How CIRAD looks at FTA

Long-term relationships and mutual trust—partnerships and research on climate change

The best science is nothing without local voices: Partnerships and landscapes

Influence flows both ways: Partnerships are key to research on Livelihood systems

Alignment is key to make partnerships work

Partnership increases number of academically trained foresters in DR Congo from 6 to 160 in just ten years

Bringing in the development expertise: INBAR to join CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Connecting with countries: Tropenbos International to join CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

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  • Trees on farms: Unexplored big wins for climate change through landscape restoration

Trees on farms: Unexplored big wins for climate change through landscape restoration

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  • Seeing the trees as well as the forest: the importance of managing forest genetic resources

Seeing the trees as well as the forest: the importance of managing forest genetic resources

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bioversity

Reliable data on the status and trends of forest genetic resources are essential for their sustainable management. The reviews presented in this special edition of Forest Ecology and Management on forest genetic resources complement the first ever synthesis of the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources (SOW-FGR) that has just been published by the Food and Agriculture Organization. In this editorial, we present some of the key findings of the SOW-FGR and introduce the seven reviews presented in this special edition on: (1) tree genetic resources and livelihoods; (2) the benefits and dangers of international germplasm transfers; (3) genetic indicators for monitoring threats to populations and the effectiveness of ameliorative actions; (4) the genetic impacts of timber management practices; (5) genetic considerations in forest ecosystem restoration projects using native trees; (6) genetic-level responses to climate change; and (7) ex situ conservation approaches and their integration with in situ methods. Recommendations for action arising from the SOW-FGR, which are captured in the first Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources, and the above articles are discussed. These include: increasing the awareness of the importance of and threats to forest genetic resources and the mainstreaming of genetic considerations into forest management and restoration; establishing common garden provenance trials to support restoration and climate change initiatives that extend to currently little-researched tree species; streamlining processes for germplasm exchange internationally for research and development; and the intelligent use of modern molecular marker methods as genetic indicators in management and for improvement purposes.

Category: Journal articles

Author: Loo, J.; Souvannavong, O.; Dawson, I.K.

Journal or series: Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 333

Pages: p. 1-8

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication Year: 2014

Publication Format: PDF

ISSN: 0378-1127

Language: EN


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