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  • For a food system at risk, women are key yet often overlooked

For a food system at risk, women are key yet often overlooked

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Members of a women's group in Nigeria. Photo by C. de Bode/CGIAR
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Originally published on

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere, Dr. Claudia Sadoff, CGIAR Gender Champion and Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), declares that our climate change-ravaged food systems cannot wait for the gradual progress of gender quality in her op-ed in The Independent.

From locust swarms, hurricanes, wildfires and emerging famines, climate-related disasters are taking places around the world and our fragile food systems are on the front line.

Our food systems are in need of urgent support, and rural women play a critical role in reversing the problem. Research has found that rural women are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change, yet their significant contributions to food systems receive only a fraction of the focus they deserve.

Rural women are hamstrung by gender bias in food systems, home life, economics and culture. Barriers to accessing finance, insurance, high-quality seed, fertilizer, additional labour and markets result in women producing 20-30 percent less per hectare than men.

Women’s unpaid daily household tasks are often backbreaking and time-consuming. Women are responsible for collecting water and fuel for cooking and tending kitchen gardens and family-owned livestock. With African women producing up to 80 percent of food for their household, these women have less opportunity to grow and sell foods at market to improve their financial position.

Breaking free of this gender bias requires a rethink on how rural women are reflected in, and participate in, society at large, says Sadoff in her Op-Ed for International Women’s Day, published in the Independent on the 7th of March.

So, what does this rethink look like? How can we enable women and, in the process, strengthen our food systems?

Sadoff has summarized this huge undertaking into three key steps. (1) Ensure rural women can invest in productivity in their farms, (2) ease the burden of daily household tasks, and (3) build research systems and cultures to be more gender equitable in the long run.

Through One CGIAR and the Generating Evidence and New Directors for Equitable Results (GENDER) Platform, we are proud to say that we are working together to achieve these three objectives. Closing the gender gap completely will not happen in a generation but taking steps towards achieving greater gender equality will help to build the resilience of our food systems, bolster rural economise and improve rural livelihoods.

With UN Women, One CGIAR supports #GenerationEquality, for the benefit of all.


‘For a food system at risk, women are key yet often overlooked,’ by Claudia Sadoff (IWMI) was originally published on 7th March, 2020 in the Independent.

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  • In The Gambia, controlling wild fire offers nature-based solution to diminishing wild food and hungry monkeys

In The Gambia, controlling wild fire offers nature-based solution to diminishing wild food and hungry monkeys

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Lalisa Duguma examines a tree healing after fire in The Gambia’s characteristic Sudan Savanna woodland vegetation. World Agroforestry/Cathy Watson
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Originally published by World Agroforestry

Burnt by fire, trees thicken bark: but a Green Climate Fund project encourages them to fruit instead.

Batelling Village lies in the Lower River Region of The Gambia, on the south side of the mighty river that runs the length of the country, and next to Kiang West National Park.

Mamodou Sanyang, elder in Batellling village. Photo: World Agroforestry/Cathy Watson

On a recent visit, the village seemed tranquil. Men chatted under a vast fig. Sheep ate tree leaves. A boy served tea.

The calm, however, hid suffering. Among the many challenges are raging bush fires, monkeys and baboons converging on homes in search of food; and a collapse of wild fruit, nuts, edible leaves, pods and other comestibles from the forest.

‘Previously we had the fruits of ‘duto’, ‘kaba’ and ‘neto’; now wild fruits are almost extinct,’ said villager Mamodou Sanyang, using the Mandinka names for Cordyla africana, Saba senegalensis and Parkia biglobosa.

In The Gambia, the climate crisis has lessened annual rainfall, made it more erratic, and raised temperatures by 1.3–2 °C. The former park ranger said droughts had started five years ago and bush fires were now more frequent.

‘Drought came because of shortage of trees. When I was young, we could go five years without a fire.’

Mother and farmer Sustayring Jang.
Photo: World Agroforestry/Cathy Watson

Mother of nine, Sustayring Jang, lamented the disappearance of ‘tonboron’ (Ziziphus mauritiana), a tangy fruit that when you ‘peel and powder, you can turn into a drink’. She also said, ‘millet harvests are diminishing’ and raids by primates are now routine.

But Mamodou and Jang believe solutions are emerging under a project they call ‘EbA’. Funded by the Green Climate Fund, with the UN Environment Programme as the GCF-accredited implementing agency, its full name is Large-scale Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project in the Gambia River Basin.

Led by the Government, targets include restoring over 10,000 hectares of degraded community forests and farmlands in different regions of The Gambia.

‘We are going to enrich the forest in the park with edible wild plants,’ says Lalisa Duguma, a senior researcher running World Agroforestry’s component of the project. ‘This will reduce human–wildlife conflict. The forest around here is very degraded and monkeys are missing what to eat. It has become a fight for survival for them too.’

Ecosystem-based adaptation is an approach that strengthens ecosystem services to reduce the impact of climate change, protect communities from extreme weather and provide ecological benefits, such as clean water and food. The aim of the EbA project is to move The Gambia towards a ‘climate-resilient, natural resource-based economy’.

Forests are a vital ecosystem to strengthen and never more so than in this West African state, which, ‘100 years ago’, wrote forester Jato Sillah in 2002, ‘was almost entirely covered by dense forest that was rich in wildlife’.

Today, just 43% of The Gambia is forested (excluding mangroves) and 78% of this is tree and shrub savannah. Buffalo, giraffe, elephant and lion are locally extinct.

With partners, the World Agroforestry team identified four ways to restore forests: enrichment planting, assisted natural regeneration, reforestation and afforestation.

‘Assisted natural regeneration is among the most cost effective,’ says a project report. ‘It requires little human intervention except management of interference. It aims to facilitate the successional recovery of degraded areas by minimizing or eliminating the impediments to vegetation recovery by, for example, reducing grazing intensity or fire damage.’

After deep consultations with the village members and the wildlife department, this option was selected as the most suitable and fire was identified as the major impediment.

Bordered on three sides by Senegal, The Gambia is a narrow country ranged on either side of The Gambia River, the waters of which come from Guinea’s Fouta Djallon plateau. Source: QGIS

By solving the problem of fire, the project potentially solves the raiding monkeys and loss of wild food, upon which 48% of rural Gambians rely, according to the baseline survey. And, in the future, the resurgent forest might even bring more rain.

The villagers are quietly euphoric. The project paid them to cut a firebreak. And in a major victory, the fire that used to scare them every dry season did not cross the firebreak.

‘Previously we used to be threatened but this year fire was contained,’ says Jang. ‘Due to lack of fire, there will be more fruit,’ she adds confidently.

‘EbA is really good,’ says Mamodou. ‘It has created a fire belt to prevent fire intrusion and one of the benefits of not having fire is that animals will have an opportunity to eat the fruit and that’s a relief for them.’

As we drive to the fire break, Duguma and Gambian researcher Alagie Bah become excited. On the left, the ground is burnt. But the firebreak prevented the fire from leaping the track and into the national park to our right. We are joined by Lamin Sanyang, who lives locally.

‘This is a fire-prone zone and previously it was very difficult for us to stop fire. We would try to beat it out with branches but it normally burned the park. When we created this 10-metre fire strip, however, the fire had nothing to feed upon and finished here,’ he says, pointing to a line on the ground. ‘The park did not burn. Now we will get natural regeneration of trees.’

This is inspiring hope. But how does fire suppress fruit? In the forest, Duguma explains, his finger on the bark of a Pterocarpus erinaceus. He says the deep fissures are a defence that the tree puts up against fire.

‘Trees invest in growing protective structures to protect the phloem,’ says the Ethiopian scientist, referring to the vascular tissue through which sugar from photosynthesis travels from leaves to the rest of the tree.

‘The plant allocates its resources to this thick bark to survive. But by suppressing fire pressure, we reduce stress. These trees will not be compelled to produce this armour as heavily as they do now. It will not be necessary. Available resources can be diverted to production of more leaves, flowers and fruits.’

If the fire break is tactic number 1, tactic number 2 is clearing vegetation from around key species because inevitably fire will sometimes penetrate the forest and the ‘project cannot protect every tree,’ says Duguma.

‘With the community we identified the top ten species they want to conserve and cleared a two-metre radius around about 370,000 trees across 1400 hectares. This tackles the fuel load on the soil surface. Within the same space, we also clear the tall elephant grass that connects the ground to tree canopy to prevent vertical expansion of flames engulfing it.’

Pointing to numerous young saplings, he adds, ‘clearing the ground also protects young seedlings around mother trees’.

This innovation to protect forests and key species within them is just one activity under ‘EbA’. World Agroforestry, UN Environment and Government partners have also generated maps, tools, forest inventories, community plans and restoration guides.

At USD 20.5 million, ‘this is the single-largest natural resource development project in the history of this country and it’s funded by the Green Climate Fund,’ said Lamin Dibba, The Gambia’s Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources at its launch in 2018.

This is a project to watch, set in one of the world’s most climate-fragile countries.

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  • Meeting in The Gambia delivers Banjul Tree Cover Resolution: ‘Every day that we delay comes at a cost’

Meeting in The Gambia delivers Banjul Tree Cover Resolution: ‘Every day that we delay comes at a cost’

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Mango, coconut and Baobab trees create shade in historic area of Banjul. Urban trees are part of Banjul Resolution. WorldAgroforestry/CathyWatson
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Originally published by World Agroforestry

With Green Climate Fund support, delegates draft landmark text: ‘Bring trees to crop land, not crops to forest land’

One day, looking back, Gambian parents may say: ‘Look, at this green Gambia that you see, children. It was in February 2020 that as a country we decided to halt tree loss and restore cover. Never forget that. We owe it our water, health and food.’

Lamin B Dibba, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources Minister, The Gambia

Parents may also hark back to figures who took a strong stand at that time, like Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources Minister Lamin B Dibba , who said, ‘farming cannot be effective without trees,’ and senior civil servant Bubu Pateh, who said, ‘If the tree is not there to pick water from the ground, rain will not be there.’

So, what event took place in early 2020 that was so momentous? In a nutshell, it was a meeting.

On 20-21 February, the Government of The Gambia, under its Large-scale Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project in the Gambia River Basin, which is funded by the Green Climate Fund with the UN Environment Programme as the accredited implementing agency, held theNational Policy Discourse on Minimum Tree Cover on Farms in The Gambia’.

Few could have anticipated the fervor that ensued. The delegates engaged as though the futures of their families depended upon it. And indeed, they do. The West African state – tucked inside Senegal along both banks of the Gambia River – is on a precipitous slide towards becoming hotter, drier, hungrier and poorer if nature-based solutions are ignored.

Peter Minang, Principle Scientist, World Agroforestry

Principal scientist Peter Minang from World Agroforestry, the technical partner on EbA as the project is known for short, was one of the first to speak.

‘With climate change, trees are the number one resilience method,’ said the Cameroonian geographer. ‘If you do not use trees, you have degradation. And trees can generate electricity, bring income from cashews, and produce fodder so that livestock feed better. And then there is the food side of trees. The project surveyed 1000 households. Almost 50% said that, in the hungry period, 50% of their food comes from wild trees. Based on all of these big things, with trees we can have a pathway out of poverty and become prosperous.’

Malanding Jaiteh, the manager of the EbA project, spoke next, starting with the challenges.

Malanding Jaiteh, the manager of The Gambia’s EbA project

‘It takes a whole country to manage its trees. Forestry tried and it did not work out as expected. Village expansion affects baobabs, and you find them gone. Elephant grass is outcompeting trees in national parks. Big trees are seen as a source of income, so are cut. And rising temperatures have been a disaster for seed germination and tree physiology.’

But he also gave a rallying call. ‘Every day that we delay comes at a cost. Let us see what we can do. A lot of options have not really been taken up.’

The project which began in 2018, Jaiteh said, targets restoring 3000 hectares of farmland and 7000 hectares of degraded forest, woodland, savannah and mangroves; reaching 11,550 households with benefits of $300 a year from nature-based businesses; and increasing climate change adaptation for over 125 community forests and protected areas.

A panel discussion and responses from the room revealed the depth of experience and knowledge but also the complexity of the drivers of tree loss and some conflicting views.

  • On transhumance: ‘Anything we plant is eaten by ranging livestock. We spend a lot of money fencing. Owners have the right to own animals but not to destroy trees.’  But also, more positively – ‘Livestock bring the forest closer. They bring seeds to our fields after eating there.’
  • On species: ‘Slow growing trees are the adapted ones. They grow slowly because they are managing the constraints. Whatever we do, let’s prioritise indigenous trees.’
  • On poverty: ‘There are fewer livelihoods every year. There are very few other things for people to do besides going in the forest.’
  • On illegal extraction: ‘They take our hardwoods for chopsticks and to grow mushrooms.’
  • On niches for trees: “They are living markers to avoid boundary conflicts.’ ‘They can generate hope in environments of despair like prisons.’ ‘Bring trees to cropland, not crops to forest land.’
  • On protecting trees: ‘Trees are not things to be planted and left alone. “I’ve planted a tree” is not a goal. The goal is trees restoring ecosystems.’

Day 1 also saw also sobering observations as well.

‘‘As per the projected climate change scenarios and if no action is taken, most of The Gambia will not be suitable for Baobab in 50 years,’ said Lalisa Duguma from World Agroforestry. ‘Since 2009, a total of 95,000 hectares of forest have been lost. This is disheartening,’ said Ebrima Sanneh, Regional Forestry officer for Central River Region.

‘Rainfall is decreasing. In some area, water moisture is sufficient for plant growth in just three months of the year,’ said EbA chief technical advisor Bubu Pateh.

Map showing changes in number of hot days in The Gambia

Day 2 was spent hammering out the Banjul Resolution to increase tree cover from the current 48%. The preamble begins ‘We the people’ and notes Gambians’ dependence on trees. It calls for, among other things, an agroforestry policy, the institutionalization of tree ownership and rights, and for government to prioritize high value, locally adaptable tree species.

World Agroforestry’s Duguma, who read out all 24 clauses, said: ‘This resolution will be a legacy. We in the EbA project will be able to say that it was from that day that we started something that we never expected to get that big.’

The resolution now sits with the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, who closed the meeting.

‘This is just the beginning,’ said Minister Dibba. ‘This is one of the most important gatherings I’ve ever attended.’


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  • Women’s place in Africa’s growing charcoal sector

Women’s place in Africa’s growing charcoal sector

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The growing charcoal business in sub-Saharan Africa has often been seen as a male-dominated occupation, with few studies exploring gender dynamics. In reality, women are present throughout the value chain –from production to transport, sale and retail— and their involvement plays a vital role in sustaining rural livelihoods, especially in times of duress.

Gendered barriers not only hinder equal participation and benefits in the sector, but they can also undermine the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the value chain as a whole. As the charcoal business expands to cater to the continent’s growing population, it is ever more important that policies identify and address these barriers in each of the countries.

Scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have recently come up with a framework for incorporating gender analysis in future research and policy-making in the charcoal sector.

Following an extensive review of existing studies, researchers also produced a snapshot of available information on gender and charcoal value chains, and identified knowledge gaps for future research.

Participation is not enough

The review process made clear that sex-disaggregated data on the charcoal value chain is patchy and often limited to field observations. Even when sex-disaggregated data on participation or benefits is available, few studies conduct gender analysis to make sense of the observed differences.

However, by examining selected papers, the review found that women participate throughout the value chain, although they concentrate in retail, and that female producers tend to get involved as a last resort. Hence, obstacles to women’s participation and benefits may have a disproportionate welfare impact, especially given the high numbers of female heads-of household among producers.

Yet, having more women participate in the charcoal sector does not necessarily indicate greater gender equality.

The engagement of women and men in the charcoal sector, and what they get out of it, are heavily influenced by gender differences and inequalities, which in turn often intersect with other aspects such as wealth and social class, marital status and age. Notable differences are found, particularly in access to and control over productive resources and income; social and political capital and gender roles and responsibilities.

For instance, studies suggest that women tend to produce less charcoal than their male counterparts, often due to a lack of access to tools, information and labor. Where producers’ groups channel licenses and capacity building, underrepresentation of small female producers can aggravate the disparity.

Similarly, female transporters usually ferry fewer bags per trip due to difficulties in accessing transport vehicles, while unequal access to finances can limit the ability of female retailers to store and bulk.

These observations illustrate how gender inequalities can constrain women’s abilities to earn more money through increasing production, selling higher volumes and accessing better markets.

Differences in financial and political power also put women at a disadvantage in both the informal and the formal charcoal sector. Inequalities limiting women’s access to information and tools, household finances, political connections and mobility, for example, can make it particularly difficult for female producers and retailers to comply with national charcoal regulations.

Although not always the case, poverty and inequalities have often been seen to push women into the charcoal sector, reinforcing the notion that greater female engagement is not a positive sign in itself.

The environmental impact of charcoal production offers a paradigmatic example.

Some studies note its effects are disproportionately borne by women because deforestation and forest degradation reduce their ability to generate income from firewood and other non-timber products.

As charcoal production erodes women’s alternative income sources, more of them may be forced to join the charcoal sector. In time, trees become scarce and production sites are moved further away from villages. This might further complicate things for women where it is not socially acceptable for them to work away from their homes and families.

In addition, gender inequalities may impact the sustainability of the value chain. A study in Cameroon, for example, found that women’s harvesting practices had a higher environmental impact compared to their male counterparts. This was attributed to women’s use of more rudimentary tools, which led them to cut smaller, younger tree stems close to their homes.

Addressing unanswered questions

Gender issues affect who participates in, and benefits from, each of the steps of charcoal value chain, and they also influence the efficiency and sustainability of a sector impacting the livelihoods of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

To advance the understanding of gender dynamics in the charcoal sector, there is a need for systematic and robust sex-disaggregated data on participation; more studies on gender dynamics along downstream nodes, which tend to have higher proportions of women; and a deliberate focus on the ways in which gender norms and relations influence and are influenced by factors such as institutional and governance arrangements or the social and environmental impact.

The study conducted by CIFOR and ICRAF proposes a conceptual framework to guide future research on these various issues, informing better policies and combating women’s marginalization. It encourages analysis from various perspectives, ranging from the decision-making power in the household to community-level institutions and norms as well as legal systems.

The conceptual framework explores how gender roles and relations, in combination with factors such as age, class and ethnicity, influence women and men’s motivations to participate in the charcoal sector, as well as the costs and benefits associated with their involvement.

It also intends to show how gender differences and inequalities in the value chain influence its structure, efficiency and sustainability, and the impact of broader gendered norms and relations in the nature and extend of women and men’s participation.

Importantly, the available evidence shows the need to place gender analysis at the core of charcoal value chain studies and interventions, rather than approaching it as an add-on component that is haphazardly conducted in the periphery of project activities.

The charcoal sector is expanding as an affordable energy source for the growing population of the continent, and it provides people in rural and peri-urban settings with much-needed income.

This study distills the current understanding on gender and charcoal value chains, and provides guidance to address the numerous, and important, questions that remain unanswered. Questions that shall inform better charcoal-sector policies and interventions for the benefit of people and the environment across the continent.

By Markus Ihalainen, FTA Gender Specialist.

This article was originally published on Forest News. 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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  • Eradicating hunger through the African Orphan Crops Consortium

Eradicating hunger through the African Orphan Crops Consortium

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Baobab fruit, Kilifi, Kenya - Photo by World Agroforestry
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Training scientists in advanced plant genomics is set to transform nutrition in Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations works with the African Orphan Crops Consortium to assist its member countries.

The African Orphan Crops Consortium is an African-led, international consortium founded in 2011 with the goal of sequencing, assembling and annotating 101 African orphan crops. The Consortium was approved by African heads of state at the African Union Assembly and is led by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

ICRAF’s Working Paper n. 296 – Breeders’ views on the production of new and orphan crops in Africa: a survey of constraints and opportunities [PDF]
The Consortium and its African Plant Breeding Academy, which is run by the University of California, Davis, comprise the most comprehensive and integrated crop-improvement venture on the continent. The Academy is funded by Mars Inc and the Alliance for the Green Revolution for Africa, among many other donors, and is hosted by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Academy trains African plant scientists and breeders to develop better crop varieties faster from genetic ‘maps’ of orphan crops. It has trained 85 of its target 150 African scientists to use DNA-sequence information to breed more nutritious, productive and resilient varieties that can withstand threats from environmental change.

‘The Consortium and the African Plant Breeding Academy have created synergy across the continent to promote African orphan crops and assist improvement of these crops through knowledge, skill, and technology transfer to African scientists,’ said Ermias Abate Desta, a graduate of the Academy. ‘This initiative is creating a network of “new breed” African plant breeders with a shared vision of a continent with no hunger, malnutrition and poverty. I am part of this great movement.”

‘Orphan crops’ refers to a diverse range of plant species that are economically and socio-culturally important but which are neglected by science and research because they are not widely traded commodities. The Consortium is raising the importance of these species and accelerating research activities for plant growth and development. By 2030, the use of nutritious, climate-resilient African crops stimulated by the Consortium’s work is expected to be a part of dietary improvements in 20% of rural populations and 10% of urban populations.

Read more –> For year round micronutrients, ten species of fruit trees are better than just a few

African orphan crop Adansonia digitata L. Photo: World agroforestry/Ake Mamo










The orphan crops include annual and biennial shrubs, bushes and trees that act as principal food sources for the 600 million people living in rural Africa. The Consortium has been sequencing the genomes of 101 species to allow scientists to efficiently improve the crops’ productivity, climate resilience, disease and pest resistance and nutritional quality and also training African scientists to best use the genetic information. All completed genetic ‘maps’ are published online with open access, with the intellectual property held by the African Union.

In 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) signed a letter of intent with the Consortium to assist member countries of FAO develop policies, regulations and laws that facilitate the genetic improvement of orphan crops; strengthen institutional and human capacities of member countries for research and development of genomic tools, plant breeding and seed-delivery systems; and convene neutral platforms for stakeholder engagement to advocate for greater investments in breeding nutritious and climate-resilient crops.

ICRAF’s Working Paper n. 276 -Supporting human nutrition in Africa through the integration of
new and orphan crops into food systems [PDF]
In 2018, the Consortium’s work was formally recognized at the October meeting of FAO’s Committee on Agriculture (COAG). During the Consortium’s side event at COAG, eight graduates from the African Plant Breeding Academy shared information about their work to help fight malnutrition in their own nations through transferring research methods and results and through training.

FAO Director of Nutrition and Food Systems, Anna Lartey, told the meeting that the Consortium’s approach has the potential to spur a revolution for orphan crops in Africa. Moreover, Lartey highlighted how the program can contribute to the nutrition targets of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, with a focus on the Decade of Action for Nutrition, which is a UN commitment to eliminate malnutrition from 2016 to 2025.

‘Together we have created a movement to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa. Stunting will be eliminated in your lifetimes, if not earlier,’ said Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer of Mars Inc and co-founder of the Consortium.

Read more –> ‘Fruit-tree portfolios’ for nutrition and health: a new approach

Completed tree genome projects under AOCC

  1. Apple-Ring Acacia (Faidherbia albida) –> published sequenced genome:
  2. Horseradish Tree (Moringa oleifera [UGent version]) –> published sequenced genome:
  3. Marula (Sclerocarya birrrea)  –> published sequenced genome:
  4. Jackfruit (Artocrpus heterophyllus) –> published sequenced genome:
  5. Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) –> published sequenced genome:
  6. Drumstick tree Moringa oleifera [BGI version])


Further references

  1. Sahu SK et al. (2020) Draft genomes of two Artocarpus plants, jackfruit (A. heterophyllus) and breadfruit (A. altilis). Genes, 11: 27,
  2. Hendre PS et al. (2019) African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC): status of developing genomic resources for African orphan crops. Planta, 250: 989-1003,
  3. Dawson IK et al. (2019) The role of genetics in mainstreaming the production of new and orphan crops to diversify food systems and support human nutrition. New Phytologist, 224: 37-54,
  4. Chang Y et al. (2018) The draft genomes of five agriculturally important African orphan crops. GigaScience, 8: giy152,
  5. Dawson IK et al. (2018) Delivering perennial new and orphan crops for resilient and nutritious farming systems. In: Rosenstock T., Nowak A., Girvetz E. (eds) The Climate-Smart Agriculture Papers, Springer, Cham.
  6. Hickey JM et al. (2017) Genomic prediction unifies animal and plant breeding programs to form platforms for biological discovery. Nature Genetics, 49: 1297-1303, doi: 10.1038/ng.3920.
  7. Muchugi A et al. (2016) Genome sequencing to unlock the potential of African indigenous fruit tree species. Indian Journal of Plant Genetic Resources, 29: 371-372, doi: 10.5958/0976-1926.2016.00074.7.


Partners in the African Orphan Crops Consortium

  1. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Rockefeller foundations. The Alliance partners in many ways, including contributing USD 1.1 million to the African Plant Breeding Academy.
  2. Agricultural Research Council (Pretoria, South Africa) supports by by sequencing genes (transcriptomes).
  3. Benson Hill Biosystems is a plant biology, analytics and cloud computing company focusing on global food systems. It is providing all Consortium plant breeders with advanced computational technology to accelerate their breeding programs.
  4. Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa, International Livestock Research Institute Hub (Nairobi, Kenya) is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform providing laboratory services to African and international scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges. It provides the Consortium with laboratory and project support, training of breeders, and the curation of germplasm.
  5. BGI (Shenzhen, China) is the world’s leading genomic sequencing organization. It is involved in sequencing, annotating, assembling and curating many of the 101 African orphan crop genomes as well as supporting development of the Consortium.
  6. CyVerse (Tucson, USA) is a collaborative organization that has developed a cyber-infrastructure for data-intensive biology driven by high-throughput sequencing, phenotypic and environmental data sets. It has helped the Consortium with analysis and curation of sequence and genotype data.
  7. Corteva Agriscience is a private agricultural company focusing on development of crops. Corteva is helping train plant breeders and development of genomic resources.
  8. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (Rome, Italy) supports the development of the Consortium through a letter of intent with specific areas of support.
  9. Google Genomics (Mountain View, USA) provides rapid transfer of data worldwide using cloud space.
  10. Illumina Inc (San Diego, USA) develops technology and kits for use in genetic research and has provided the Consortium with reagents to sequence the gene complement of 50 species and has donated their HiSeq 4000 Sequencer to the laboratory to sequence 10,000 accessions of African crops.
  11. Integrated Breeding Platform provides data management systems for plant breeders. The Platform provides training to breeders through the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy.
  12. The James Hutton Institute (Dundee, Scotland) is a non-profit research institute specializing in plant breeding. It provides gene sequencing tools and analyses to breeders.
  13. Keygene Inc, (Rockville, USA) is an international company supplying genomic tools for plant breeding. It provides tools to breeders.
  14. LGC (Hoddesdon, UK) is an international life-sciences measurement and testing company, providing reference materials, genomics solutions and analytical testing products and services. It has also provided genotyping services for plant breeders.
  15. Mars, Incorporated (McLean, USA) is one of the world’s largest privately-owned food companies; it has provided over USD 2 million for the African Plant Breeding Academy, scholarships for breeding programs and support for laboratory personnel.
  16. New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Midrand, South Africa) is a technical body of the African Union which provides administrative, logistical and political support.
  17. Oxford Nanopore, (Oxford, UK) is a genomics company providing DNA and RNA sequencing technologies. It provides its platform and reagents to breeders.
  18. Thermo Fisher Scientific (Waltham, USA) helps companies and organizations solve their research challenges; it has donated four Proton sequencers and four Chef Stations and reagents. It recently acquired Life Technologies, which had donated four Ion proton machines to the Consortium.
  19. UNICEF (New York City, USA) supports the development of the Consortium.
  20. University of California, Davis (Davis, USA) is one of the world’s leading agricultural universities. It manages the Academy and co-leads the laboratory and scientific program.
  21. VIB-UGhent Center for Plant Systems Biology (Ghent, The Netherlands) is a non-profit research institute in the life-sciences sector that has 1200 scientists conducting basic research on molecular mechanisms. It has helped with bioinformatics and annotation of plant genomes.
  22. Wageningen University (Wageningen, The Netherlands) is a world-leading agricultural university working closely with the Consortium to define the nutritional value of African crops and breeding lines.
  23. World Agroforestry (ICRAF) (Nairobi, Kenya) hosts the laboratory and the Academy and helps manage its data.
  24. World Food Programme is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. It supports the Consortium in a variety of ways.
  25. World Wildlife Fund for Nature (Washington DC, USA) has worked with the Consortium since its inception, helping with initiation and vision

For more information about the African Orphan Crops Consortium visit:

This research was conducted by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, 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. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) leads the Research Program in partnership with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), ICRAF and Tropenbos International (TBI). The work of the Research Program is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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Restoring Forests, Restoring Communities: Lessons from Shinyanga

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A restored Ngitili system in the Shinyanga Region, Tanzania. Photo credit: Lalisa A. Duguma / ICRAF
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How secure resource rights help communities in Africa restore forests and build local economies

“Landscape restoration is not new,” said Steven Lawry, former director of CIFOR’s Forests and Governance Research portfolio. “But global and national commitments such as the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 and the urgency of addressing climate change mean that a qualitatively different approach is needed if we’re going to achieve the kind of success that we aspire to.”

Lawry used these words last October, during the interactive “Restoring Forests, Restoring Communities” session at the Global Landscapes Forum in Accra, Ghana. Supported by a panel of conservation experts with experience across the continent, Lawry put communities – and the question of secure land tenure rights – at the heart of that “qualitatively different approach”. [Full session can be replayed entirely here]

Shinyanga: Restoring communities in Tanzania

The story begins in Shinyanga, northern Tanzania, with a landscape restoration project that is – or perhaps was – held up as a bright example of successful collaboration between government, conservation scientists and local communities.

Priscilla Wainaina, agricultural economist at World Agroforestry (ICRAF), led a research team to investigate what made the Shinyanga restoration so successful.

The region suffered from severe landscape degradation as early as the 1930s when British colonial authorities encouraged the clearing of woodlands for various reasons, including the eradication of disease-carrying tsetse flies and increased demand for wood. But this was only the beginning. “In the 1960s and 70s, cash crops – mainly cotton and tobacco – intensified this degradation,” Wainaina said.

The degradation was so severe that, by the 1980s, Shinyanga had become known as the “desert of Tanzania”. “That’s when the government of Tanzania, together with ICRAF, came up with the HASHI restoration project,” Wainaina explained.

Building on the existing local practice of Ngitili fodder reserves, the HASHI restoration project encouraged cattle farmers to plant trees on their grazing land. As they matured, these trees supplied the farmers with fodder for livestock, as well as wood they could use or sell for fuel and construction.

When the HASHI project started in 1986, there were only around 600 hectares of land managed under the Ngitili system. By the time the project ended in 2004, over 250,000 hectares of Ngitili had been restored and were being managed by local communities.

In 2004, management of the restored landscapes were taken over by local communities under the leadership of the village councils, supported by a government body dedicated to community empowerment.

The project was hailed as a triumph by conservation scientists across the globe. But recently there have been troubling signs for the future of Shinyanga, and the problem centres around land tenure rights.

“This goes beyond just troubling”

“When it comes to land tenure rights in Tanzania,” Wainaina said, “land is owned by the state, but it’s managed by local households and communities. This gave communities an incentive to restore their landscapes so as to strengthen these property rights.”

And, for the last 30 years, this is exactly what happened: the customary rights of local communities to the communal restoration areas had, in the words of Priscilla Wainaina, “grown stronger”.

“But in 2018,” Wainaina continued, “a new ministerial directive to shift some of these communally-owned restoration areas to the state was issued, so they can be state managed.”

Wainaina was quick to add that the state had good intentions for this decision. Naturally, the Tanzanian government has access to much greater resources, both human and financial, to better manage the restoration in Shinyanga than the local communities do.

But Wainaina also reported that, “the local communities feel like [the decision] was not well communicated: it was top-down as opposed to participatory”.

“Now communities are not sure about the future ownership of the communal restoration areas,” Wainaina said. Because it is the local communities who are responsible for the majority of the landscape restoration, this new insecurity is, according to Wainaina, “really clouding the restoration efforts”.

Although her concerns were stated in the straight-forward language of an agricultural economist, Lawry was quick to pick up on the significance of Wainaina’s comment. “It’s a bit troubling to hear that there are now questions in the air about the ability of the communities to retain the tenure rights that have contributed to the success of the project,” he said.

Chris Buss, Director of the Forest Programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), went further: “We use Shinyanga as one of the great examples of restoration,” he said. “If the land and trees are being taken away under different ownership systems, then this goes beyond just troubling. It goes to the heart of what we’re trying to achieve.”

Secure land tenure: “The heart of what we’re trying to achieve”

Secure land tenure is the foundation of successful landscape restoration, as Steven Lawry explained: “Research – considerable research, in fact – identifies secure tenure as a necessary condition for successful community forestry, including for forest landscape restoration adoption.”

Landscape restoration goes far beyond simply planting trees. It takes a much broader view of degraded sites, restoring the whole mosaic of land uses that draw from and contribute to the landscape. Without the involvement of the local communities who live and work on the land, such a holistic approach is impossibly difficult. But without secure tenure, what motivation do local communities have to invest in the landscape?

Tangu Tumero, Principal Forestry Officer at the Department of Forestry in Malawi, tells a story that illustrates the same motivations, but on an individual scale.

“In Malawi, we have a tradition in some cultures where, when a man marries a woman, the man moves to live in the woman’s community. But, if the marriage ends, he must go back to his village,” Tumero said. “As long as he feels like he doesn’t belong with this community, he is not going to plant a tree from which he would benefit [in the future]. ”

This thinking plays out on a larger scale when the whole community does not feel like they have rights to the land they work. “Secure tenure motivates investments in land, including community investments in forest landscape restoration,” Lawry explained.

Unfortunately, as Wainaina showed with her research on Shinyanga, secure land tenure is far from the norm.

Interview with Priscilla Wainina during GLF

“Indigenous peoples and local communities occupy some 50 percent of the total land area in the tropics,” Lawry said, “but only have legal rights to a very small portion of those resources and governments still struggle with how to understand and secure customary rights.”

Restoration management is already a very complex task, but it is made even more complex when, as Wainaina discovered in Shinyanga, projects fail to take account of who exactly owns the land and to accord statutory protection to existing customary land tenure arrangements.

Chris Buss learned this lesson the hard way when he was working in Malawi. “There was a fuel wood project that planted millions of trees,” he said. “It was very successful for three years, until the trees got to a decent size and all the local chiefs said ‘These are our trees and we’re going to harvest them now.’”

“Over three or four years, the project looked very successful,” Chris said, “but we hadn’t addressed the critical tenure issues and the trees were cut down.”

Tumero agreed that understanding the local context is paramount. “When we’re developing our programs,” she said, “we make sure that they are locally driven as much as possible. Otherwise, we can overlook some of these things that look minor but are going to be very crucial in terms of how we make progress.”

Customary land rights are typically not written into law but are rather rights that are recognised by the local community. Importantly, customary tenure principles grant all bona fide members of the local community land as a social right.  However, the introduction of individual, statutorily recognized rights, can have the effect of dissolving long-standing customary rights, making poorer community members particularly vulnerable; hence, the importance of extending statutory recognition to existing customary rights, at a legal status equal to private land and state land.

The absence of statutory recognition of customary tenure creates what Patrick Ranjatson, professor in Forestry and Environment at the University of Antananarivo, calls “invisible communities”. “Community is always there, but people have a tendency to overlook them,” Ranjatson said. “Government agencies, NGO projects and even sometimes the community’s own members are not aware of the importance of their community.”

“Simply put,” Steven Lawry concluded, “the future of forest landscape restoration is limited if we do not solve the tenure problem where the problem exists.”

Return to Shinyanga: Choosing Intrinsic over Extrinsic Incentives

For solutions to the problems of land tenure rights and invisible communities, we return to Shinyanga, and Priscilla Wainaina.

“Restoration in Shinyanga has been going on for 30-plus years,” Wainaina said. “When the HASHI project ended in 2004, the communities, with support from the government, were able to continue the restoration efforts. So, what made restoration so successful in this landscape?”

Wainaina’s research (awaiting publication) found the answer to be, not one incentive in particular, but a pattern of incentives and disincentives that complemented each other.

“The incentives that stood out particularly were conservation benefits,” Wainaina explained, “the ecological, economic or even cultural benefits communities derive from restoration.”

These conservation benefits were predominantly what Wainaina described as intrinsic motivators. “These are motivators that rely on self-desire more than external factors,” Wainaina explained, “and these intrinsic motivators were the key drivers of restoration in Shinyanga.”

“Restoration in this area focussed more on local people and local knowledge and that focus really got the communities involved, in addition to the other actors,” Wainaina said. “The communities, together with their village governments, owned the projects and that was a really key motivator.”

Patrick Ranjatson issued a final note of caution. “Strengthening communities doesn’t mean that we strengthen communities to the detriment of the state,” he said. “If there are people doing slash-and-burn agriculture, then the forest will be finished very rapidly. We need to find this balance, so if it’s not local community who bring this idea of sustainability, then it has to be either the government or partners such as NGOs.”

Wainaina’s research also found that extrinsic motivators – such as top-down cash incentives – were not as important for restoration in Shinyanga as policy-makers might imagine. “External motivators, although they supported the restoration, they were not as strong as the intrinsic ones,” she explained.

Wainaina gave the example of the United Nations REDD+ programme, which uses cash incentives to encourage the reduction of net emissions of greenhouse gases by improving forest management and restoration in developing countries.

“REDD+, although it’s usually a motivator in most of the restoration projects in most countries, didn’t actually achieve the benefits they intended in Tanzania because it was a pilot project,” Wainaina said. “It only ran for four years and then it was gone. The discontinuation was a disappointment for the farmers and the local community.”

Extrinsic incentives like REDD+ need careful deployment, otherwise they can back-fire and discourage communities from supporting landscape restoration.

A surer bet for successful restoration, according to Wainaina’s research, is to empower local communities with intrinsic motivators like education and land rights that will secure for them the ecological, economic and cultural benefits from conservation.

“We hope that, with participation through the village government and the national government, they will reach a consensus on the way forward in regards to land tenure rights,” Wainaina said.

As for Steven Lawry’s “qualitatively different approach”, these researchers believe that approach must include land rights for local communities.

“Most of these communities are advocating for registration of their land rights,” Wainaina said. They feel as if this is the only way they can secure the benefits that they get from this restoration. They started the restoration areas, they managed them successfully for the past years and they feel like they still have the capacity to do it.”




Further read/blogs


By David Charles, Communication Specialist

This article is based on a discussion that took place at an interactive session held at the Global Landscapes Forum on Restoring Africa’s Landscapes: Catalyzing Action from Above and Below, Accra, Ghana, 29-30 October, 2019.

Participants:  Chris Buss (IUCN); Patrick Ranjatson (ESSA-Foret, Madagascar); Priscilla Wainaina (ICRAF-Nairobi); Tangu Tumero (Forestry Dept—Malawi); and Steven Lawry, Moderator (CIFOR).

Funding from the CGIAR Collaborative Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) supported the event. 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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Access to education key to boosting number of women in science, scientist says

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Stibniati Atmadja, Scientist, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) speak on Panel discussion: 10 years of REDD+: what have we learned? Global Landscapes Forum, Katowice, Poland. Photo by GLF
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Originally posted on Forest News

For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the United Nations is highlighting data that show fewer than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women. The statistics also show that only about 30 percent of female students elect to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in institutes of higher learning.

Female enrollment in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is also low: 3 percent in natural sciences; 5 percent in mathematics and statistics; and 8 percent in engineering, manufacturing and construction.

“To rise to the challenges of the 21st century, we need to harness our full potential,” said Antonio Guterres, U.N. secretary general. “That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science.”

Each year on Feb. 11, which was adopted by a U.N. resolution in 2015, participants aim to highlight the need to achieve full and equal access and participation, gender equality and empowerment.

The challenges are steep. In the United States, for example, women earn about half of all doctorates in science and engineering, but make up only 21 percent of full science professors and 5 percent of engineering professors, according to an article in Science. On average, women earn only 82 percent of what male scientists earn.

In the European Union, women scientists earned an average of between 25 percent and 40 percent less than male scientists in the public sector in 2006, the article states.

Women also drop out of science careers early in disproportionate numbers. The research presented in the Science article shows that although 70 percent of first year women chemistry doctoral students said they planned a career in research, by third year, only 37 percent had met that goal, compared with 59 percent of men.

“Despite decades of research and intervention, female students receive fewer opportunities and less recognition than their male counterparts, and women are less likely than men to occupy leadership roles, or to work in mathematics-intensive fields such as physics and engineering,” say the authors of an article in Trends in Ecology & Evolution journal.

The number of women engaged in scientific pursuits for study or work, and the wages they earn, remain substantially lower in comparison to their male counterparts, the authors state, suggesting that part of the challenge of achieving equality relates to the way the term equality is defined. There is no single definition of success, and too narrow a focus on any one aspect of equality can have unintended consequences, they write.

Taking an intersectional analytical approach – factoring in a combination of influences affecting gender disparities can shed further light on some of the challenges girls and women face, experiences or opportunities they miss. In addition to gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, health, sexual orientation, age and physical location can disadvantage or empower.

A message from FTA’s Flagship 1 Leader on International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Shifting Landscape

In some arenas measurable change has occurred.

A 2018 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal demonstrates that the proportion of female authors collaborating on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global climate watchdog, has increased from 5 percent in 1990 to more than 20 percent in recent years.

For example, the landmark 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C included 38 percent women authors, according to researchers.

Strong role models and access to formal education can make the difference for women, says Stibniati Atmadja, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Her career benefitted from growing up in a supportive household and the opportunities a good education opened up for her, she says, adding that she had no clear career goals as a child and fell into a career in forestry science almost by chance, her initial interest piqued by the many trees and insects in the leafy home in the outskirts of Jakarta where she grew up.

In girlhood, her scholastic pursuits were supported by her mother, a pathologist and her father, a geologist.

“I was fortunate to have parents who would then nurture that interest,” says Atmadja, who in Grade 3 considered becoming a geneticist or botanist.

“When I was a high school student in Jakarta and later a first-year university student in Manila, all I could see was pollution and the poor state of the environment”, she said, explaining how she ultimately wound up studying the interrelationships between environment and economics. “My interest resulted from economic reasons – the environment was not being valued properly.”

Transferred from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, she subsequently earned two undergraduate degrees at Australia’s Murdoch University in economics and environmental science, and a master’s and a doctoral degree in natural resource economics in the United States at North Carolina State University. Afterwards, she lived and worked in Indonesia, Ethiopia and currently resides in France.

“I had a huge choice of programs I could take,” she said, adding that overseas travel opened her to wider curriculums and alternative social structures, a contrast which raised her awareness of limitations that can hold women back in a given place or in certain circumstances.

“I’m blind to the fact that I’m a woman in a scientific career,” said Atmadja, who joined CIFOR in 2008 and whose research focus is on gathering data and writing about forests and climate change.

Her work involved travelling, often alone or as the only woman on a team, for weeks at a time, in remote villages to understand how people use and manage their forests. She saw how expectations about the kinds of people doing this research work could filter out young women.

“There were so many beliefs that cast women as either the target or conjurer of bad spirits, and limitations on how women travel and interact with places, people, topics and occupations,” she said.

“Villagers would look at me, wondering how I ended up with such a job – following fisher folks, deer hunters, bird trappers deep in the forest, and doing interviews with such a wide variety of people. I, on the other hand, never thought my work was particularly strange for a female or any gender for that matter.”

Reflecting on why she was blind to such gender biases and could pursue activities she loved without feeling constrained by gender norms, she said that in girlhood she was never told there were limits on what she could do.

“I don’t recall my parents telling me ‘girls should do this and can’t do that’ — ever. I grew up assuming that women can do what men can do because I saw that was exactly what my mother did,” Atmadja explained.

Her mother was among the few Indonesian women in her field of pathology, then she led a large national non-governmental organization focused on planned parenthood. Her work gave her the opportunity to travel to every corner of the country and to talk to many people from all walks of life – from sex workers and street kids to ministers and celebrities. She moved on to work in a multilateral development bank, a dynamic environment which introduced her to a greater number of interesting places and people.

“I saw opportunities by being female, not limitations,” Atmadja added. “It formed my expectation of what jobs I could do.”

This experience has led her to believe that parents play an important role in increasing the presence of more women in science, especially in the Global South.

“I’m now a mom. I have a girl and a boy,” she said. “My husband and I try to give both kids equal opportunities by letting them see and act on opportunities without being constrained by gendered expectations.

“To parents, I would say, think about the gender awareness you put on your kids because it will reflect on how they see the world, how they see themselves in the world and how they would see the opportunities that come to them. There are social norms based on gender that parents and kids need to be aware of. We can support our kids by helping them achieve their potential despite these norms.”

Atmadja also credits her luck in pursuing a career she loves to the educational privileges she had that many others may not have: she not only grew up in a household with formally educated parents, but she attended school in developed countries and benefited from travel experiences in many countries.

“Women interested in science need to know their skills and should not be afraid to say: ‘I’m not good at that, but I’m good at this.’ Then try and find a path that is feasible for them to pursue whatever they are good at and open up to options. Talk to women in the field. Even if the options in the context seemingly are not fit for women, it’s OK. You can do it.”

Take my advice with a grain of salt because it reflects my privileged perspective, she added.

By Julie Mollines, Communication Specialist

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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Agroforestry to heal damaged land from fires

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Agroforestry systems have a great potential for enhancing biodiversity by combining conservation with production
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By Florencia Montagnini, originally posted on the World Agroforestry website.

‘Well-written book useful to farmers, foresters, landowners and policy makers,’ says world expert in agroforestry in Latin America at Yale

Agroforestry systems (AFS), which combine trees and crops on the same land, can increase productivity in the short and long term while promoting biodiversity and bringing social, environmental and economic benefits to the farmer and society. They are also increasingly relevant in conservation, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, and restoration of degraded ecosystems.

This is the premise of Agroforestry Systems for Agroecological Restoration: How to reconcile conservation with Production, Options for the Cerrado and the Caatingaa book just released in English. Rich in technical and scientific information, it will be useful to many. Brazil’s Ministry of Environment has reprinted 4000 copies of the Portuguese version since it was published in 2016.

mapThe Cerrado and Caatinga are two vast biomes that are less well known outside Brazil than the Amazon rainforest but are also critically important, not only for the country, and are both facing formidable threats.

The Cerrado is a savannah, South America’s largest and the world’s most biodiverse. Interspersed with forest, its 2 million km² provide livelihoods to about 470,000 small farming families, over 80 indigenous groups, and groups like extractivists, which include rubber tappers, and quilombola communities founded by escaped slaves.

‘Some have lived there for hundreds of years and live with its diversity and extract its natural resources sustainably, while others still depend on traditional slash-and-burn,’ says the book. But rather than being a rural idyll, the Cerrado is ‘one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems due to the expansion of mechanized agriculture and the annual monocropping of soybeans, maize and cotton.’

These and other activities, such as the opening of new areas for livestock, new forests planted for pulp and charcoal, and new hydroelectric dams, lead to the clearing of some 30,000 km² per year. The Cerrado – known as ‘the cradle of water in Brazil’ – also saw an 800% rise in fires in 2019. According to the book, agroforestry could offer a solution for these problems: ‘AFS are excellent alternatives, because they respect the potential of local resources and the region’s ecological and productive possibilities.’

Geraizeiro community crossing a spring in the Cerrado of Northern Minas Gerais State. Photo: Peter Caton/ISPN
Geraizeiro community crossing a spring in the Cerrado of Northern Minas Gerais State. Photo: Peter Caton/ISPN

The Caatinga is South America’s largest dry tropical forest, covering about 844,000 km². ‘Life is extremely hard for locals, known as sertanejos,’ says the book. ‘Ever since Brazil was colonized by Europeans, the region has suffered from forest clearing for cattle grazing and charcoal production, which are still its main economic activities. Its plant cover had declined by nearly 50% by 2009.’

book coverIn the Caatinga, agroforestry systems to produce animal feed, short-cycle crops and fruit-bearing trees can improve the quality of life for farming families and others of its 27 million inhabitants, who face longstanding drought. The practice of agroforestry, says the book, can also reduce socioeconomic inequality, reverse desertification, counter soil degradation soils, and protect and make better use of native vegetation.

The book was funded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its lead author is Andrew Miccolis, who heads World Agroforestry in Brazil. Its five chapters begin with basic concepts of ecological and landscape restoration, using a multidisciplinary, holistic approach. Likewise, several chapters present the definition of agroforestry systems and their most frequent types with details on design, implementation, financial analysis and adoption.

Andrew Miccolis, lead author
Andrew Miccolis, lead author

In total, the authors describe 11 agroforestry systems practiced in the cerrados and caatingas, placing emphasis on farmer objectives, key species, and management practices. The description of one specific system to restore a riparian zone begins with ‘No agrochemicals or heavy machinery should be used.’ The next step in this process is to plant ‘a row of fruit, wood and biomass trees (as well as bananas) followed by rows of ornamental plants, food crops and medicinal herbs’ because many of these species ‘play an important role in occupying the lower stories, maintaining microclimate and replacing grass, which is a major contributor to forest fires’. It further advises ‘intensive management of the cultivated strips and selective weeding and pruning in the natural regeneration strips to promote succession. Resulting organic matter should be piled around the native plants valued by the farmer’.

Backed by up-to-date literature, such highly detailed passages are good examples of where productive agriculture can achieve food security, landscape restoration, biodiversity conservation, and climate change resiliency, using appropriate agricultural practices that support functioning agroecosystems.

The book also displays testimonies from practitioners. Luiz Pereira Cirqueira from Araguaia in the Cerrado compares the meagre returns from five cattle on a hectare of grass with the far higher returns from a hectare of cassava with trees, saying ‘The agroforest is the way I found to make a living and I’m happy, which makes me an example for others.’


From Ceará state, farmer Ernaldo Expedito de Sá describes how agroforestry transformed his land in the Caatinga. “This area was very ugly. It was nearly all desertified, which is what happens to fallow land if you don’t feed it or protect it, out in the sun all day. Then ten years ago, I met Chico and Elviro, who were working with AFS. My dream was to produce food both for me and nature too.’

The authors also place emphasis on the use of species for recovering degraded areas, a section which is particularly beautifully illustrated. ‘Species able to store water can be vital for situations with extreme water shortage, including most of the Caatinga and Cerrado, where the

Xylopods, veritable water tanks. Source:
Xylopods, veritable water tanks. Source:

yearly dry season is well-defined and prolonged,’ says the book, adding that some species like Jacaratia spinosa and cajá-mirim

(Spondias purpurea var. lutea) have underground storage structures called xylopods that are ‘veritable water tanks’.

The conversion of degraded, simplified systems to diverse, agroecological, resilient systems is challenging, and the scaling-up of these systems will require a combination of scientific and technological innovation, policy, economic, and market incentives tailored to different scales.

The book lays out how AFS can be a tool for rural development and provides a series of successful experiences that are also in use or can be used in other tropical dry regions of Latin America as well. It is greatly enriched by diagrams, figures and excellent pictures of the AFS and other land uses, which will make it particularly useful to farmers, foresters, landowners, land managers, land use planners, and policy makers researchers and students at academic institutions. Though focused mainly on family farmers, its techniques and options can also be applied by medium to larger farmers.

Agrosilvocultural system
Agrosilvocultural system

Agroforestry Systems for Agroecological Restoration is a welcome addition to reading lists of textbooks on agroforestry and restoration that can be used by instructors and students of a full range of educational levels. It is very pleasant to read and a welcome addition to the assemblage of published works on restoration and AFS with interest and emphasis on both Latin America and worldwide.

The book can be purchased at no profit to ICRAF from HERE or downloaded from the link below.

Reviewer Yale’s Florencia Montagnini has written ten books on agroforestry in Latin America.

Florencia Montagnini is a Senior Research Scientist and Director, Program in Tropical Forestry and Agroforestry at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University. Dr. Montagnini has written ten books on agroforestry systems and ecological restoration, including a major textbook in tropical forest ecology and management, and over 250 scientific articles. She participates in Yale’s Environmental Leadership Training Initiatives (ELTI) and teaches and advises individual project courses in agroforestry, landscape restoration, and soil conservation and management. She holds honorary professorships at several universities in Latin America.

Miccolis A, Peneireiro F, Marques H, Vieira D, Arco-Verde F, Hoffmann M, Rehder T, Pereira A. 2019. Agroforestry Systems for Agroecological Restoration: How to reconcile conservation with Production, Options for the Cerrado and the Caatinga (English edition) World Agroforestry. Instituto Sociedade, População e Natureza. Brasilia. 240 pp.

This research was conducted by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, 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. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) leads the Research Program in partnership with Bioversity International, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), ICRAF and Tropenbos International (TBI). The work of the Research Program is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Brussels Development Briefing 59: How local application of agroecological principles can transform food systems

Brussels Development Briefing 59: How local application of agroecological principles can transform food systems

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Agroforestry in East and Central Asia. Photo by World Agroforestry
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Leading agricultural scientist calls for transformation of the world’s food systems to align with agroecological principles

Fergus Sinclair, Flagship Leader 2 and Head of Systems Science at World Agroforestry (ICRAF) through collaboration with Bangor University, UK, explained at the 59th Brussels Development Briefing, 15 January 2020, how agroecological principles applied on farms can create sustainable food-production systems. A full streaming of the event can be replayed at this link.

It is now widely recognized, he said, that a major transformation of food systems is needed to achieve food and nutrition security globally in the context of a changing climate and that this will profoundly affect what people eat as well as how our food is produced, processed, transported and sold.

FTA’s Flagship Leader 2, Fergus Sinclair making his presentation at Brussels Briefings 59. Photo Brussels Briefings

According to Sinclair, bringing about such transitions to more sustainable and democratic agricultural systems that reconcile human and environmental health with social justice and, hence, are resilient, will not happen without major shifts in public policies and private-sector contributions to the governance of value chains at international, national and local levels as well as the active encouragement of innovation across these scales.

Agroecology is increasingly seen as being able to contribute to transforming food systems by applying ecological principles to agriculture to ensure a regenerative use of natural resources and ecosystem services. Agroecology also embraces social and cultural aspects in developing equitable food systems within which all people can exercise choice over what they eat and how and where it is produced. To this end, agroecology combines science, practice and social movements that complement each other although it is not inevitable that they remain in step with one another.

Agroecology comprises transdisciplinary science, sustainable agricultural practices and social movements that are precipitating widespread behaviour change. Agroecological principles map closely to principles of adaptation to climate change, with the notable exception that while they often exhibit resilience benefits, these are incidental rather than representing an explicit response to climate signals.

First slide from Fergus’ presentation at BruBriefs 59 [full set of slides available here]
Current market failures (for example, not costing pollution nor valuing the maintenance of soil organic carbon) and perverse policy incentives (for example, subsidizing use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides) combine to mitigate against decisions for farmers and other people in the food system to adopt agroecological approaches, despite their benefits for climate resilience.

Agroecology manifests at field, farm and landscape scales, for which different metrics of agricultural performance are relevant in order for agroecological practices to be fairly judged against alternatives. Operationalising new and holistic performance metrics for agriculture will require innovation in both public and private (value chain) sector governance.

‘There are three key actions required to enable adoption of agroecological practices at scale to build resilience of farming and food systems,’ Sinclair told the audience of representatives of Member States of the European Union, civil society groups, research networks and development practitioners, the private sector and international organizations.

‘A level playing field must be established that addresses market failures, reforms maladapted policies and improves the evidence base,’ he continued. ‘Food-system actors must also be willing to embrace complexity, connecting social movements and science, fostering co-learning and horizontal knowledge exchange and addressing “options by context” interactions.’

The third action is to enable integration, horizontally across systems and vertically across scales. In a simple matrix, Sinclair presented the complete set of 13 agroecological principles.

13 principles of agroecology
13 principles of agroecology

‘A key consequence of defining agroecology in terms of the application of principles,’ he said, ‘rather than as a set of practices, is that this implies that their application will result in changes to the agricultural and food systems to which they are applied. This is in line with the emerging consensus that there is an urgent imperative to transform current food systems — in terms of what people eat and how it is produced, stored, transported, processed and sold — to bring food production in line with demand and the capacity of the planet to produce and absorb pollution and waste.’

This leads, he argued, to a recognition that as different agroecological principles are applied, different levels of transition will occur, involving either incremental or transformational change, depending on which principles are involved and at what scale they operate.

A compelling illustration of how adoption of individual agroecological practices can operate to improve farm-level adaptation to climate change can be seen in a recent inventory of agroecological practices for Africa and their contribution to climate adaptation. Debray and others (2019) focused on agropastoral land use in semi-arid Africa and mixed crop and livestock production in sub-humid areas to evaluate the contribution to climate adaptation of agroecological practices in use by farmers. They found that these were mainly concerned with soil and water management but also included diversification of production, pest and disease control and livestock management. They identified seven categories of agroecological practices contributing to adaptation that were related to preventing land degradation, improving soil health, better water management, diversifying production, adaptive crop management, pest and disease control, and managing livestock.

‘Locally appropriate agroecological practices have potential to increase the resilience of livelihoods and enhance adaptation to climate change at field and farm levels across a wide range of contexts,’ he said, ‘often with significant mitigation co-benefits that might help to finance their establishment. Their potential will only be realized, however, if action is taken across hierarchical levels to remove barriers to their adoption. These need to address market failures and reform policies that create perverse incentives at the same time as adopting comprehensive performance metrics for agricultural systems that factor in social and environmental externalities. A reconfiguration of the relationship between formal science and local knowledge, including bridging differences in outlook and emphasis between social movements and the scientific establishment, is required to foster co-learning among the diverse range of stakeholders involved in development and promotion of agroecological practice. Finally, integration of policy processes across sectors and scales is required to create an enabling environment that encourages adoption of agroecological practices.’


Originally published at World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

FTA partner World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

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  • Restoring degraded lands for bioenergy can offer economic and social returns as well as environmental benefits

Restoring degraded lands for bioenergy can offer economic and social returns as well as environmental benefits

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Panelists of the Global Landscapes Forum Luxembourg 2019 Session, Restoration of Degraded Land for Bioenergy and Rural Livelihoods: a Promising Business Case from Indonesia. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF
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Indonesia bets on biomass to power local economies

Indonesia is committed to supplying energy to all of its people, but with 260 million citizens scattered across 17,500 islands, this is no small ambition.

CIFOR/FTA’s InfoBrief on Sustainable bioenergy systems to restore and valorize degraded land [pdf available in EN, IN and KO]
Restoring degraded lands with biomass to fuel bioenergy plants could be part of the answer to both environmental and livelihood concerns, noted participants to the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) held in Luxembourg on 30 November 2019.

The archipelago has more than 24 million hectares of degraded lands. Hence, replanting and restoring these areas through community-based programs and using part of the biomass to produce bioenergy could boost local economies while contributing to global climate goals.

The panel ‘Restoration of degraded land for bioenergy and rural livelihoods: a promising business case from Indonesia’ looked into new business models convening communities, authorities and the private sector to power remote rural villages in the world’s largest archipelago.

The event was co-organized by the Indonesia Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and the Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) research program of the CGIAR.

The audience was treated to a lively and interactive session with live polls that allowed the panel to gain insight on the collective feeling on particular issues. At the very beginning the collective expectations on the session converged on one topic: restoration.

A further set of questions were posed to the audience during the course of the session expanding the dialogue between audience and panel. In particular, attendees indicated that in order for the bioenergy developments to benefit smallholders and rural communities, energy needs to be affordable and accessible to them. Interestingly, capacity building was identified by the audience as the most important safeguard for coupling the bioenergy transition with landscape restoration. Finally, with a surprising twist, the audience did not fully agree that in general coal transition to biomass is the dominant pathway with respect to the development of other renewables. However, it was deemed extremely important, especially in cases like the one discussed by the panelists.

Ending the poverty-energy trap

For 50 million Indonesians in off-grid rural communities, energy bills are 10 to 20 times higher than in cities due to the steep cost of kerosene lamps and diesel-generators. Higher bills add to the existing poverty-energy trap, where the poorest people are less likely to have access to power, and without it, they are more likely to remain poor.

“This is also the case for people in Mentawai Islands, a world-class surfer destination off the West of Sumatra with thousands of visitors per year,” explained panelist Maria Wahono. She is president commissioner of Clean Power Indonesia (CPI), a private developer that, in 2018, sealed a 20-year agreement with a state-owned utility company and communities to provide three villages in Mentawai with bioenergy.

As part of the project, Indonesian authorities supported communities to establish 300 hectares of bamboo forest in degraded or underutilized lands, and people now sell this biomass to CPI’s power plant.

The facility transforms the bamboo into combustible gas and provides 1,300 homes with power at a subsidized tariff, allowing communities to realize income from selling bamboo after paying electricity bills. In addition, the plant employs 150 people.

“For this type of biomass energy project to be commercially feasible and replicable across the country, we need three separate investments: a state-owned utility company that provides the network distribution and off-taker guarantee to de-risk the investment; the regional government or ministries responsible for promoting biomass supply, including bamboo farming activities; and private actors that focus exclusively on power plant development,” explained Wahono.

The Mentawai energy project set up the first bamboo-based biomass power plant in Asia-Pacific, and now wants to spread to more than 40 villages, advancing national plans to reach a bioenergy capacity of 500 MW in the next five years.

Just as importantly, the lessons learned from this project are informing biomass initiatives elsewhere, pointed out Ingvild Solvang, Sustainability and Safeguards Manager with GGGI –an intergovernmental organization that helps governments’ transition into green growth economic models.

Sustainable business models 

GGGI is currently scoping a business model in West Timor that mirrors the project in Mentawai. “We are building on each other’s work and showing that ‘collaboration is the new competition’,” said Solvang.

In the new model, the state company would also be tasked with ensuring a reliable supply of biomass into the 2.2 MW power plant, and the project could generate USD 1 million in revenues for communities. “In Eastern Indonesia this is sorely needed because livelihoods are the number one priority for people and the government,” said the panelist.

The plant is set to create jobs and to power local enterprises, which are instrumental to sustain demand in the long term. For Solvang, “the use of electricity for productive purposes is essential to ensure a viable and sustainable business model, and to fuel local economic development.”

Wahono pointed out the importance of using tropical bamboo as a sustainable biomass option, instead of some preferred alternatives in other areas of Indonesia. This grass is native to most islands in the archipelago; it can grow up to two meters per week; its plantations are inexpensive to maintain, and it is culturally appropriate.

Framework for assessing the ecosystem services deriving from bamboo forests, published in 2019 [pdf]
“Also, its root system is amazing,” said Solvang. “It keeps carbon in the soil, improves water retention, reduces erosion and improves overall land productivity.”

A framework for assessing a wider variety of ecosystem services deriving from bamboo forests was recently jointly published by CIFOR and INBAR, two FTA partners.

Panelists reiterated that potential benefits of renewable energies are many-fold, and that well thought-out bioenergy models offer opportunities on various fronts: baseload electricity production, job creation, land restoration for biodiversity and production purposes, as well as the fight against climate change.

This is why GGGI is also conducting broader assessments on the opportunities for green jobs creation under Indonesia’s commitments to the global climate agenda, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

“Policy-makers need to balance the short-term need to create jobs with longer-term climate targets that may appear more abstract,” said Solvang. “By providing figures on the social and economic co-benefits of climate action, we can create political and social demand for it.”

Audience of the Global Landscapes Forum Luxemourg 2019 Session, Restoration of Degraded Land for Bioenergy and Rural Livelihoods: a Promising Business Case from Indonesia. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF

Political support

In Indonesia, the expansion of sustainable bioenergy models is encouraged by the national Low Carbon Development framework, as explained by the BAPPENAS Director of Energy Resources, Minerals and Mining, Dr. Yahya Rachmana Hidayat.

The country’s plans seek a boost in energy efficiency in the next five years, as well as a 30 per cent increase in the production of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2040.

“There are huge opportunities lying ahead of us: our current installed capacity of renewable energies amounts to less than 3 percent of its potential, which we estimate at 420 GW,” said the Director.

“We have developed a five-year strategy to develop energy plantation forests, and we seek to increase the contribution of the bioenergy industry to the national economy,” added Yahya, noting the willingness of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and that of Energy and Restoration to work closer together.

Restoring landscapes

Indonesia’s policy framework envisages the creation of energy forests and the use of organic waste from various industries. The same approach is adopted for a new biomass energy and restoration project to be implemented in Lampung, Southern Sumatra.

The objective of the project, which is in the design stage, is to convert an existing inland coalfired power plant to run on biomass fuel. Up to 40 percent of the biomass will be supplied by community-based forestry and agricultural activities, and the rest will come from an agreement with a state-owned plantation of rubber, palm oil and sugar cane meant to ensure security of supply.

“Central Lampung has been intensively cultivated for over one hundred years and has many degraded lands, hence the restoration approach,” said Michael Brady, CIFOR principal scientist and team leader for Value Chains and Finance. “All three commodities have been there for a long time, so there is also a lot of over-mature rubber and palm oil waste the plant can use.”

Several panelists highlighted the need to adopt appropriate safeguards and to address governance issues ahead of project implementation, as emphasized by George Winkel, Head of the Bonn Office and Governance Programme at the European Forest Institute (EFI).

“There is a pressing need to ensure coordination across land use sectors and different levels of governance, so projects stay connected to the interests of local communities,” said the expert.

For example, provisions should be taken to ensure energy plantations do not jeopardize food security, lead to displacement, or lock communities into disadvantageous business deals.

Hence, Winkel called for land use planning that convenes all relevant stakeholders around the use that should be given to degraded lands, and noted the importance of clarifying legal frameworks and land tenure rights before embarking on any restoration and bioenergy initiative.

“A possibility is connecting restoration and bioenergy projects with ongoing FLEGT and REDD+ initiatives, many of which are already working on the relevant governance issues,” he pointed out.

Solvang from GGGI also encouraged cooperation between the bioenergy initiatives themselves to reach many more people: “We are building on each other, and we will hopefully come up with projects that can be bundled together and presented as interesting opportunities for investors.”

Collaboration was a red thread running through all the panelists interventions. A prerequisite to design and implement sustainable bioenergy ventures on a large scale with a view to healing landscapes while improving livelihoods. To this end, all of the panelists plan to be involved in the new biomass project at Lampung, which is entering the feasibility assessment stage.

By the FTA Communication Team.

This article was produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). The event at GLF Luxembourg was co-funded by the National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) of the Republic of Korea.

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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  • Forest restoration and democracy: Making communities visible in Madagascar

Forest restoration and democracy: Making communities visible in Madagascar

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Farming families in Boeny District, northwest Madagascar, rely on oxen for transportation and draft power. Photo by Steven Lawry/CIFOR.
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Landscape restoration will not be fully effective unless it contributes to social as well as ecological benefits.

Recent discussions at the Global Landscapes Forum in Accra, Ghana, which revolved around tenure policy and forest landscape restoration in Madagascar, shed light on some of the issues impeding progress toward achieving positive social and ecological restoration outcomes globally.

The Bonn Challenge and the U.N. Decades on Ecosystem Restoration and Family Farming are important global restoration initiatives. They are designed, organized and funded by U.N. agencies, major donor countries, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and participating national governments that have signed on to their ambitious goals for restoring degraded forests, farmland and ecosystems.

Within the framework of the Bonn Challenge, 28 African countries affiliated in the AFR100 (African Forest Restoration Initiative) network are committed to restoring 113 million hectares of degraded forests.

There is wide agreement among experts that communities must be consulted at every stage of the restoration planning and implementation processes.

But too often “consultation” takes the form of perfunctory discussions with communities, and meaningful decisions about land use practices, funding, program design, local governance, incentives, regulation, planned outcomes and distribution of benefits are made by external entities.

In reality, communities lack any real negotiating power, including the ability to reject proposals they consider unrealistic or not in their best interests.   This lack of community authority has significant consequences.

Manony Andriampiolazana, on left, interviews a leader in Ankijabe, Boeny District, Madagascar, forest restoration priorities.


Community members actively shape landscapes through decisions about how and where land is used for forests, agriculture, housing and other uses. As such, the outcomes of restoration efforts, positive or negative, are largely in their hands.  While government and NGO planners may recommend or even prescribe adoption of new land use practices and technologies believed conducive to restoration and sustainable use, ultimately communities decide whether or not the recommended practices are practical and realistic.

Because they live and work close to the resource management problems, land users are in the best position to make informed choices about how land can be best managed and sustainably used for environmental, economic and social benefit.  Research has found that practices imposed by outside authorities often lack technical credibility and rarely possess political legitimacy (McLain et al. 2018a).

This link between success in achieving positive outcomes and democratic decision-making is often overlooked in forest restoration programs.  Reference to “consulting” local stakeholders doesn’t come close to describing the decision-making authority local people should exercise.

Governments can create incentives for restoration, but whether or not incentives are appropriate or sufficient to motivate new land use practices is largely a matter for users of land and forests to decide.

Governments can attempt to discourage destructive land use practices through direct regulation and penalties.  But over-reliance on rule making and enforcement can prove unduly burdensome and coercive and turn communities away from a restoration agenda.

Lingering legacy

Colonial powers undercut or eliminated the ability of communities to make collective, democratic decisions about local land use by concentrating ownership rights over land, forests and pasture in the state.

While regulation carefully applied may have a role, communities should have the right to adopt restoration practices as a matter of free, collective choice, derived from secure rights to their local resources, including the right to decide how they are best managed.

CIFOR research found that tenure security motivates community investments in restoration (McLain et al. 2018b).

In much of Africa but also among indigenous communities in Latin America and Asia, customary tenure arrangements ensure access to land as a social right.

In other words, locally recognized systems of resource governance and rights are in place, but these systems too often are not recognized in statute or national law.

Madagascar, which aims to restore 4 million hectares of degraded forest by 2030, and other African governments, seek to “modernize” the property rights system by linking delivery of land rights to statutory instruments, such as title and certification.

Local people who believe that their customary rights are legitimate and secure may sometimes be vulnerable to loss of those rights because customary tenure arrangements are often not recognized under law.

Madagascar case study

Despite guidelines that Madagascar’s restoration plans reflect active engagement with communities and a variety of local stakeholders, research and experience suggests that Malagasy community-based land management institutions and practices are invisible to official authorities.

What is the evidence of this invisibility?

  • Insufficient recognition of community organizations and community resource rights in law.  Malagasy civil law recognizes in principle the right of communities to manage forests.  However, the law does not describe or grant the powers necessary for communities to carry out their management responsibilities.  In practice, community representatives are sometimes consulted by government officials on land use decisions, but community organizations lack sufficient autonomy to manage and enforce local land use initiatives.
  • Failure of projects to systematically engage with legitimate local representatives.  Local NGOs sometimes assert that they legally represent local communities, or hold and exercise rights on behalf of local communities, when communities would dispute that this is the case.
  • A focus on individual property rights instruments, such as titling or certification, which are recognized in law, while most forests and landscapes targeted for restoration are used and managed collectively.  Assignment of individual title to portions of areas historically used collectively further erodes collective rights.
  • The administrative infrastructure and technical resources needed to assign title and other forms of statutory rights in rural areas are very limited.  Poor people face additional barriers to securing title due to high survey and registration costs and limited knowledge of their rights and official procedures.  Moreover, there is evidence that subsequent to the initial titling, right holders do not register transfer of rights due to sale or inheritance, largely because the level of tenure security provided under the customary system is perceived to be adequate or the costs of doing so are considered to be too high. (Ayalew et al. 2019; Lawry et al. 2017).
  • Some individuals (often migrants) who have weak customary rights in places of new arrival may claim statutory title to land as a way of securing rights in ways not possible through the local customary system.  This can undercut the ability of the community to make enforceable collective land use decisions.
  • Lack of motivation for local people who have customary rights to seek land certificates or titles through the statutory system, because of the belief that their customary rights are secure.

Reshaping the terrain

In sum, the future of restoration may be limited if insufficient democracy and tenure insecurity are not addressed. Restoration practices that contribute to positive environmental and social outcomes are more likely to be taken up by local people when they have the degree of control over forests and trees necessary to reap the benefits of their investments.

It is imperative that the Bonn Challenge’s call for engagement with local communities in forest landscape restoration planning and implementation go beyond consultation and address the importance of community governance and secure community rights to land, forests and trees.

Restoring forests, restoring communities: How secure resource rights help communities in Africa restore forests and build local economies session panelists. From left: Chris Buss, IUCN forest programme; Patrick Ranjatson, ESSA-Foret, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar; Steven Lawry, representing the Center for International Forestry Research; Tangu Tumeo, Malawi Forest Department; and Priscilia Wainaina, World Agroforestry Center, Nairobi.

Community self-governance and legal recognition of resource rights are essential preconditions for community–led restoration.  Self-governance is a precondition to negotiating consensus about use practices within communities and rights enable and catalyze action.

In the absence of rights there is no assurance that local communities will have the certainty that the benefits of their labors and investments will accrue to them.

Customary rights can be recognized statutorily, and several African countries have implemented legal reforms that recognize customary tenure (including Botswana, Kenya, Liberia and South Sudan).  But Madagascar has not.

Until Madagascar and other countries take steps to design and implement laws that extend local self-governance and tenure security through, for instance, recognition of customary tenure, it is unlikely that landscape restoration at scale will occur.

By Steven Lawry and Patrick Ranjatson
This article draws on ideas discussed at the interactive session entitled “Restoring Forests, Restoring Communities,” held in Accra, Ghana, 29-30 October 2019, at the Global Landscapes Forum on Restoration in Africa.  Steven Lawry, senior associate at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), organized and moderated the session.  Patrick Ranjatson, professor at Mention Foresterie et Environnement de l’Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Antananarivo (ESSA-Forêts) led a discussion on tenure policy and forest landscape restoration in Madagascar.

Funding from Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and  the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) supported research in Madagascar in 2018-2019 on which this article was based.   PIM and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) supported the Global Landscapes Forum  interactive session where the research was presented. Opinions expressed are the authors’ alone.


Ayalew Ali D, Deininger K, Mahofa G, and Nyakulama R. 2019. Sustaining land registration benefits by addressing the challenges of reversion to informality in Rwanda. Land Use Policy. (In Press)

Baynes J, Herbohn J, Smith C, Fisher R and Bray D. 2015. Key factors which influence the success of community forestry in developing countries. Global Environmental Change Part A 35:226–38.

Lawry S, Samii C, Hall R, Leopold A, Hornby and Mtero F. 2017. The impact of land property rights interventions on investment and agricultural productivity in developing countries: a systematic review, Journal of Development Effectiveness, 9:1, 61-81,DOI: 10.1080/19439342.2016.1160947

McLain R, Lawry S, Ojanen, M. 2018a. Fisheries’ Property Regimes and Environmental Outcomes: A Realist Synthesis Review. World Development.

McLain R, Lawry S, Guariguata M, Reed J. 2018b. Toward a tenure-responsive approach to forest landscape restoration: A proposed tenure diagnostic for assessing restoration opportunities. Land Use Policy. landusepol.2018.11.053

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  • Report from the Digital Summit - “Barriers to inclusive finance in a context of sustainable landscapes"

Report from the Digital Summit – “Barriers to inclusive finance in a context of sustainable landscapes”

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A moment during this final Digital Summit
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The FTA/CIFOR/Tropenbos International eDialogue “Scaling up innovative finance for sustainable landscapes” concluded on 19/12/2019 with a Digital Summit on “Barriers to inclusive finance in a context of sustainable landscapes” in which three of the outstanding eDialogue participants explained their particular experiences in facing barriers to sustainable landscapes finance. Through their debate, possibilities for such experiences to be applied in other parts of the tropics or scaled up were analyzed, while a lively online audience posed very relevant questions.

[Read more – Report from the GLF Luxembourg Session]

Aldo Soto of the Rainforest Foundation in the UK talked about a pilot of results-based-payments (“impact bonds”) that helped a cooperative of the Ashanika people in the Peruvian Amazon conserve their natural environment while making their cocoa production systems more sustainable and resilient to climate change. Mr Soto, who illustrated very clearly how impact bonds can be extremely catalytic, indicated that it is often the case for local start-ups in the agrifood and forest sectors that local financial institutes charge interest rates that are just too high (24% or higher per year) for them to meet. Even social banks and institutions apply high rates (8-15%). This makes it impossible for them to transform or set up more sustainable businesses. For this reason, he highlighted, there is a need for public funds and impact investors’ money to support these types of transformation. Outcome payers, or off-takers, those that buy the resulting products from the activities (e.g. cocoa from sustainable sources), are also necessary, so that the investees will be able to pay back the loans to the impact investors. He says that there is a need to change the mindset of financiers, but most importantly, there is a need for different financial tools that allow for more flexibility and are concretely applicable.

Dorothy Kamasa, founder of the Center for Women and Food Security in northern Ghana, admired the progress made in Peru, but underlined that for many women groups in Ghana, access to finance is limited by social and political reasons. For example, the voting behavior of the population in one area could influence access to governmental support. For groups that are not well-connected to known organizations or politicians it is more difficult to obtain the funds necessary to set up sustainable businesses or improve their agricultural systems. Currently, her organization works to strengthen women groups in applying sustainable agricultural practices and conserve their environment through voluntary contributions in time or money, but is very much limited due to lack of access to finance by their members. As the moderator Gerhard Mulder mentioned, it is a shame that many times such very good local initiatives are not reached by organizations actively seeking to finance more sustainable practices. Identifying such initiatives and linking them to potential financiers could be a role of platforms such as the Global Landscape Platform.

Burnice Karimi Ireri, a MSc Environmental Science student at the Egerton University in Njoro, Kenya, spoke about her study on the willingness to pay for environmental services in the Kapingazi river catchment area in Embu County, which is part of the Upper Tana Catchment in Mt Kenya region; one of the major water towers in Kenya. The area is an important provider of water for hydro-electric power generation and 67% of the farmers interviewed were willing to contribute to a conservation fund in addition to the existing water sector trust fund, to enable conservation actions by the Kapingazi Water Resources User Association and help restoring the watershed.

Burnice explaining the environmental services mechanism object of her studies

The conservation fund is managed by the Water Resources Authority (WRA) and receives money from KenGen, the hydro-electric power company, and other international donors. Burnice also found that agricultural certification schemes, for tea and coffee for example, influence the willingness of farmers to implement conservation actions, either on their farms or within their landscape, since eco-labelled agricultural produce fetch higher prices in the international market than standard produce without the label. The main challenges to overcome are to raise farmers’ income enough so that they can actually contribute to the fund and at the same time ensure that the benefits from the conservation actions (less erosion, more and better water) extend the possibility to contribute to a wider group of farmers. Mr. Soto observed that impact investors could have an important role in setting up such funds, but that it would be necessary to identify local off-takers due to the nature of the results produced (more and better water), as is the case with the hydro-electric power plants in Kenya.

All three examples and the overall discussion indicated the absolutely essential importance of pulling together governmental support, impact investments and local organizations that can adequately manage the funds, as well as outcome payers or off-takers. Off-takers that apply specific sustainability criteria (such as certification schemes) seemed to have a positive effect in Kenya. The Digital Summit also very clearly showed another barrier that does not only affect access to finance: digital inclusion. Unfortunately, our Ghanaian and Kenyan speakers were not able to connect flawlessly, probably due to the capacity of the local networks in their more remote areas. This not only hampered their connection in the discussion, but exemplified how similar connection issues can occur with many of the financial organizations, limiting access to finance in particular in rural areas.

Many of these observations, as well as the discussions during GLF Luxembourg, will feed into the FTA/Tropenbos International draft study which will advance and be finalized early 2020.

In case you missed this very interesting Digital Summit on “Barriers to inclusive finance in a context of sustainable landscapes”, you can easily replay it!


By Bas Louman, Tropenbos International

This article was produced by Tropenbos International and 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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  • Forest science for the future: Back to the drawing board?

Forest science for the future: Back to the drawing board?

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Farming land on peatland area in Mendawai village, Katingan. Central Kalimantan. Photo by Nanang Sujana/CIFOR
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Scientists discuss best way forward at IUFRO XXV congress

How can forest research and science, the foundations of the science of natural resource management, be renewed amid unprecedented global challenges?

At the 25th congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), in Curitiba, Brazil, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) hosted an official side event. It involved six top scientists from partner organizations, in addition to congress delegates who discussed priorities for future forestry research.

The talk stirred up a wide-ranging debate among scientists on how to confront the ongoing planetary crises such as climate change, threats to biodiversity and deforestation in a unified manner.

The title of the session was “Research on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: What’s Next?

“We could be tempted to rush to the drawing board, but before this, we need to go back to the incredible amount of former research and see whether it worked or not,” said Vincent Gitz, director of FTA, the leading international research program exploring how forests, trees and agroforestry play a central role in food security, nutrition and sustainable development through improved production systems.

Scientists recognize that efforts to reach the Paris Agreement target to keep global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels will not be met without reductions in emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation.

Forest loss accounts for about a tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agricultural emissions, 35 percent of which occur in developing countries, contribute a similar amount.

This puts reducing deforestation and restoring landscapes on the menu for research attention. The sheer volume of research findings can seem daunting, which include context-specific, typology-related and other topics, but through careful synthesis, real solutions and methods can be found, participants said.

As well, gaps in knowledge exist in terms of options for sustainable land management, for too little is known about the relative costs and benefits of land management and restoration approaches, said panellist Andrew Miccolis, Brazil country coordinator for World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

“Everybody is talking about landscape approaches, but what’s really put into practice?” he queried. “We need to better understand trade-offs between agriculture, different agroforestry and forestry systems; what are the options for different contexts, for different landscapes”

Financial focus

Through benefiting from local economic value in conserving forests, communities will be able to tackle the causes of deforestation and forest degradation, and benefit from full institutional and political commitments of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions caused by Deforestation and forest Degradation), said panellist Amy Duchelle, team leader of Climate Change, Energy & Low Carbon Development Team at CIFOR.

“On restoration, we could learn from the experience of REDD+ and also explicitly link to REDD+,” she said.

To date, challenges have included agreeing how to measure forest emissions levels upon which payments should be based, what costs payments should cover and who among governments, subnational programs or local people should be paid.

Many REDD+ initiatives are currently funded by CG donors.

“There is still a clear need for rigorous assessments and how to attribute benefits to a determined intervention,” Duchelle said. “We’re at an important moment regarding finance: the first results-based payments for REDD+ have been disbursed in 2019; market based mechanisms for forests may be emerging. Much more work is needed on reference levels, as well as on units for offsetting, issue of permanence.”

Brazil was approved for a $96.5 million payout under REDD+ in February 2019 in return for reducing deforestation in 2014 and 2015, based on the concept that by slowing down deforestation according to previously measured reference levels, trees that would have been cut down were not.

“With REDD+ we’re making a large scale policy and intervention experiment,” Duchelle said. “REDD+ provides an opportunity to measure and attribute benefits to a determined intervention. And it’s gaining traction in a growing number of countries.”

But to be effective research needs to reflect not only on the ‘what,’ but also on the ‘how’,” Gitz said.

Evaluating change

“We’re in a transformative period and research needs to adapt to these changes, to new pathways for solving complex issues,” said panellist Yanxia Li, senior program officer at International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, organization having joined FTA in 2017. “Research needs to be able to create transformative processes that bring science to real practice.”

In a similar vein, Edwin Cedamon, post-doctoral fellow with Australia’s University of Adelaide said that a greater effort must be made to increase the reach of communications outreach to development and agricultural and forestry extension workers on the frontlines, typically at provincial and municipal government levels.

“We need to know how much our knowledge is reaching these people and what FTA technology and innovation are lacking for them,” Cedamon said. “There is little if not nil knowledge resources and or materials readily available in local extension and development service offices.”

Transparent trajectory

Misleading messages can also create hurdles, participants said.

Maria Brockhaus, professor of International Forest Policy at Finland’s University of Helsinki insisted on the importance of credibility. “We need to be transparent about failure, she said. “The tipping points are crucial, we really need to be credible.”

Pablo Pacheco, Global Forest Lead Scientist with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature supported this notion.

“The worlds of science and society are disconnected,” he said. “There’s the question of credibility – you need to make your assumptions clear. We also have be careful about misleading messages.”

“Deforestation is not a problem of forestry but of agriculture, a challenge that can be addressed in part through further research on policies on agriculture and land use,” said panelist Roger Villalobos, who works with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE)

Natural forest management is the most powerful tool for forest conservation – we need more research on policies that have an impact on forests like on migration,” he added. “We need better communication with society, farmers, decision makers.”

Urgent action

“We have no more time – we need to use what we have already learned,” said panellist Plinio Sist, director of the Forests and Societies Unit at the French Agricultural Centre for International Development (CIRAD, a managing partner of FTA). “Our current knowledge is enough to call for action.”

Sist expressed a sentiment that was echoed throughout the IUFRO congress, held under the shadow of uncertainty brought about by the climate crisis, on the heels of U.N. Climate Week in New York.

Further research is required to understand complex systems, but the situation in deforestation and biodiversity loss is so urgent that the focus should be on requesting specific actions, Sist said, adding that scientists must not shy away from initiating transformative processes to influence policy.

“We’ve accumulated enough knowledge to develop applicable solutions and concrete actions to fight deforestation and for climate change mitigation, now it is time to act” According to Sist, it’s a responsibility of scientists to also act as evidence-based advocates and activists.

Communications and interventions are central, said Gitz in his concluding remarks as moderator, adding that scientific investigations must start from the ground up – putting the needs of people first and then determining which trees are best suited to the landscape—the only way we can do this is by reshaping our approach to managing the landscape spaces within which we work.

He left the door open for further discussion within FTA, recommending action-based research which, he said, must be innovative, strongly transformative and demonstrate concrete results.

By Julie Mollins, communications specialist.

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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UN chiefs strengthen collaboration to achieve zero deforestation

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According to the UN, up to 23 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions derive from the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector
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Originally published at World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

Seven leaders of UN agencies at the Climate Conference in Madrid call for an end to deforestation to address the climate emergency

‘Forests are essential to life on Earth; we cannot afford to destroy them. UN agencies are fundamental in supporting countries to take action.’

Naoko Ishii, Global Environment Facility

Carolina Schmidt, president of the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said that deforestation is the most critical challenge faced by humanity: a bold, new stand is needed against destruction of the world’s forests. She called on the UN and the world to heed the Santiago Call for Action on Forests and work collaboratively to achieve zero net deforestation.

In response, seven heads of UN agencies joined together in the first-ever UN Heads of Organizations Leadership Dialogue, 12 December 2019 at the Climate Conference in Madrid, to strengthen their collaboration in supporting member states achieve zero deforestation.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC; Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP); Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP); Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); and Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) explained their agencies’ past actions and commitments to increasing the synergies between each other to provide maximum support to member states, especially developing nations, to stop deforestation.

‘The UN system has enormous capacities around the world,’ said Espinosa. ‘Combined, we have the knowledge, experience and capacities to facilitate actions with governments. This is the first leadership dialogue and it augers fantastically for going forward. Coordination, communication and looking for synergies between our different entities is key. This is such an enormous challenge that no one of us can do it alone. To support developing countries, in particular, we really need to work together. Importantly, when we talk about forests and land use we must bear in mind the social dimensions of the work we need to do in this area, especially the communities in the most vulnerable developing countries.’

Deforestation, degradation and restoration have been included in the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement and other international conventions, said Zhenmin of UN DESA, but loss and degradation of vast areas of natural forests continues, particularly, in the tropical domain where 7 million hectares of forests are lost every year.

‘Zero deforestation can only be achieved through UN member states,’ he said. ‘We must all work together; all should act as one to move forward on a common framework to achieve zero net deforestation.’

He pointed out that the High-Level Forum on Forests has developed a strategic plan for forests, which was adopted in April 2017 by the General Assembly, to tackle the drivers of deforestation and degradation; to find a balance between economic growth and sustainability; and to improve the strength of the forestry sector. The plan has six goals and 26 targets in an integrated framework of action for zero net deforestation designed to unlock the potential of forests to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. If fully implemented, it will stop deforestation, increase reforestation and reduce poverty of forest-dependent people.

He committed his agency to continue support to member states to implement the plan and urged them to speed that implementation. DESA would strengthen collaboration in capacity building of member states and in mobilizing funding for forest management and deployment of technologies.

Dongyu of FAO confirmed that there was a great need to address food security and forests together holistically. Over 20 developed countries have decreased the number of malnourished people and also increased forest area. His key message was that it is possible to reconcile these issues through coordinating a land-use approach across sectors.

The synergy of agencies’ efforts can already be seen in FAO and UNEP leading the Decade of Restoration. Their aim is to massively expand the scale of restoration of degraded ecosystems, including forests. In this process, decisions must be based on evidence and the world must look beyond forests alone and build collective synergy, for example, to reduce the carbon footprints of agricultural commodities.

‘Traditional agriculture has been focused mainly on productivity but now we must look at sustainability, especially, in cash crops,’ he said.

A key to this effort is to ensure that subsidies are not driving deforestation and that enacted policies are in place for food security. Technologies and innovations are also keys to achieving rapid results and must be deployed widely, with a strong focus on environmental functions. He also emphasized that the world needs a strong and flexible set of forest monitoring tools that can readily upload and access data through technology such as mobile phones. To speed the transition to zero deforestation and stronger food security through sustainable agricultural value chains, partnerships are needed between UN agencies and businesses.

Ishii of the GEF stated that the science is clear: 73% of deforestation is driven by conversion to agriculture. How, she asked, are we to deal with the economic forces that are driving this?

‘We need to understand this better and implement all commitments, like the New York Declaration on Forests. We are failing in translating commitments into actions. Why are we failing? The lack of feet on the ground to translate into action is a lesson we have learned from the past. To address this, GEF has created a coalition of countries that have committed USD 430 million to create multistakeholder platforms that bring together ministries of forestry and of agriculture, local governments, businesses and financial institutions.’

The actions, she said, need to be based on land-use planning and adopt both landscape and value-chain approaches. To stop deforestation, protection of forests is needed with sustainability embedded right through to consumption.

‘The challenge is to get all the players together in their countries while also including the global value chains,’ she said. ‘We can do this better working together to be more inclusive of business, governments, financial institutions and communities. Would have a better success rate.’

The USD 9.8 billion in replenishment funds committed to the GEF would help speed progress.

Steiner of UNDP said that, ‘We are underperforming to meet our own objectives with the deforestation figures.’ He went on to agree that FAO has a key role to play but so do all the agencies. ‘We all have a role to play in keeping forests on national agendas.’

Steiner noted that REDD+ is a key mechanism that brought together UNDP, UNEP and FAO through UN-REDD. Norway has backed the boldest experiment in mitigation, adaptation, land use, restoration. ‘Don’t let Norway be the only supporter,’ he urged.

A focus on increasing the ambition of NDCs was needed, with particular emphasis on nature-based solutions. He noted that 100 countries were engaged with the NDC Partnership and called for ‘a far greater focus on forests to address climate/NDCs and biodiversity/CBD’.

‘On the ground, these differences between conventions don’t matter,’ he said. ‘As the UN community, it is a responsibility to bridge the conventions. Next year is the year of nature.’

Thiaw of UNCCD reminded the panel and the audience that ‘we need to feed 10 billion to come without depleting our ecosystems’ and that the UN can do better on science and policy. Land degradation neutrality was important; we need to use land but also conserve it.

Andersen of UNEP stated that 70% of forests were under threat, mostly from commodity production.

‘We are part of the problem,’ said. ‘We need to help that sector flip into sustainable production; we need to clean up our supply chains. Governments and UN leaders need to step up, especially FAO. We need to partner with the private sector. We need to help them towards positive agricultural outcomes.

She also noted that the price for carbon varies greatly (USD 26–35) but the forest carbon price was at USD 5.

‘This is why we need a good outcome for Article 6 [of the Paris Agreement],’ she said. ‘Let’s label products over time. Let’s clean up supply chains. In the context of the European Green New Deal, 2020 is the ‘super year’ for nature.

The Santiago Call for Action has seven core elements:

1) Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance carbon sinks: countries must strengthen efforts in line with Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, expand the scale of actions and increase knowledge;

2) Increase the ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) through Nature-Based Solutions based on forest activities (Including REDD+);

3) Advance NDC implementation through effective and measurable multistakeholder action; including voluntary calls such as the Bonn Challenge;

4) Increase NDC transparency: reinforcing trust in the Paris Agreement. It is important to share how countries will mitigate the impact of the climate emergency and to track progress;

5) Scale-up predictable financial support from all sources, including through REDD+;

6) Build on existing technical support for NDC implementation and reporting; expanding the scale of technical support for reporting, particularly, for developing countries;

7) Actively engage local communities and indigenous peoples, including women and youth: a holistic approach is essential to turn the tide on deforestation.


World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales.

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Agroforestry Systems for Ecological Restoration

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Agroforestry System for Ecological Restoration - Cover
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How to reconcile conservation and production. Options for Brazil’s Cerrado and Caatinga biomes

The FTA-funded technical guideline aiming to guide the adoption of agroforestry systems (AFS) to restore and recover altered and degraded areas, using strategies that reconcile conservation with social benefits, originally published in Portuguese, was just recently translated in English and presented at COP25 in Madrid, by Andrew Miccolis (see slides here).

The guideline was developed through a participatory research process involving extensionists, farmers, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in the field of restoration and AFS.

The team began by analyzing norms governing the use of AFS in environmental protection areas (Permanent Preservation Areas – PPAs and Legal Reserves – LRs), to make their practical implications in the field clear to extensionists, farmers and policy-makers.

A broad-ranging survey of relevant literature investigated the feasibility of AFS and the most suitable systems to accomplish the ecological and social goals of restoration was conducted. In May 2015, during a participatory seminar on “Conservation with Agroforestry: pathways to restoration on family farms,” 70 participants drafted principles and criteria to reconcile conservation with production. The team then systematically analyzed 19 AFS experiences to draw lessons for best practices to be replicated, including visits to 16 farmers who shared their examples of promising management systems and practices, and consulted experts. With those inputs, recommendations are proposed to overcome challenges facing AFS and to draft enabling legislation for Brazil’s new Forest Code.

A farmer explaining the benefits of mixed livestock/agroforestry systems

An approach to social-environmental diagnoses in AFS planning attuned to the aspirations and conditions of families in their own environments was also developed. For some of the most common situations, like degraded pastures and areas with secondary plant growth, we 11 agroforestry options to be adapted to each farm’s specific characteristics are illustrated.

Recommendations include detailed descriptions of 19 key species for the recovery of degraded areas, and a total of 130 species deemed important for AFS-based restoration in a general table with functional attributes. Although this book focuses on Brazil’s Cerrado and Caatinga biomes, the approach for socio-environmental diagnoses, the principles and criteria for selecting species and designing systems, as well as the implementation and management techniques, can be applied in other regions as well.

This research was conducted by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, 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. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) leads the Research Program in partnership with Bioversity International, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), ICRAF and Tropenbos International (TBI). The work of the Research Program is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.


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