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Celebrating the fundamental role of trees for food security and nutrition (Vol. 5, Issue 3)

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More than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Fruits and vegetables can go a long way to address them as well as to reduce the current epidemic of overweight and obesity. However in most countries of the world consumption does not meet the FAO/WHO recommended 400 g per person per day, according to a recent FTA brief. Such shortages can lead to malnutrition and food insecurity. This year, which marks the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV2021) and the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is a perfect time to reflect on how conserving and promoting food tree species has the potential to boost nutritional security, support local livelihoods, promote more sustainable agriculture and preserve valuable ecosystem services.

FTA is actively engaging with the global community to highlight these critical benefits of trees and forests. For example, last February our FP1 Leader, Ramni Jamnadass, spoke at an event hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the experiences and challenges of conserving fruit tree species and sharing genetic resources to make future food systems more resilient.

At the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit last month, FTA’s FP2 Leader, Fergus Sinclair, issued a keynote titled “How agroecology can guide the UNFSS” within the “Strengthening food systems transformation through agroecology” session. The event discussed the new “Coalition on food systems transformation through agroecology/regenerative agriculture,” through which members aim to implement the policy recommendations that were adopted during the Committee on World Food Security (CFS48). FTA’s scientists Amy Ickowitz and Stepha McMullin also hosted a session that centered on the importance of healthy forests and trees for tomorrow’s agricultural and farming systems.

Just one month before, between 22-24 June, the FTA Kunming Conference brought together almost 400 participants to look at concrete options for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD COP15) post 2020 agenda. The international hybrid event especially focused on trees’ potential contributions to a green circular economy and to healthy, diversified diets. Together with the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), the Research Institute for Resource Insects and the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), the event produced 12 core recommendations for governments, policymakers and private actors.

In June, FTA was also instrumental in launching the Agroecology Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) during the annual Committee on World Food Security (CFS48). As one of the funding partners, FTA also facilitated the TPP’s Policies for Agroecology event on July 15, which brought together 20 speakers and more than 570 participants from over 50 countries to discuss the policy gaps standing in the way of agroecological transitions that work with nature. Videos from both events can be fully replayed online (see further down the newsletter).

As the year leads into other milestone events such as the UNFSS in September, CBD COP15 in Kunming (China) in October and the UNFCC Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (United Kingdom) in November, FTA will strengthen its commitment to advocate for trees and forests. We believe that trees are essential to mitigate and adapt to climate change. They also promote biodiversity and can aid in the transition toward sustainable and healthy global food systems in harmony with nature.

For this reason, FTA is now launching “From Tree to Fork,” a communication campaign to raise awareness about some of the most unrecognized and underappreciated fruits and vegetables that come from trees. These foods can furnish important nutrients to local and indigenous diets and play a vital role in improving livelihoods through agroforestry systems or other tree products that generate income. Promoting native fruits and vegetables, including those highlighted in the “From Tree to Fork” campaign, is also important to maintain crop genetic diversity and conserve ecosystems.

We are only at mid-year, and there is much more to look forward to as we celebrate the vital role that forests, trees and agroforestry play for FSN and for human health. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the fruits and vegetables we eat (and those we have never tasted, but should!) and to envision a global food system that is more sustainable, inclusive and biodiverse.

Keep reading to learn more about our recent achievements — we hope to see you at future events this year!

Vincent Gitz
FTA Director

Special feature

From Tree To Fork

imagethumb.jpgDid you know that the fruit from the Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L.) can contain up to six times more vitamin C than the same serving size of oranges and twice as much calcium as milk? Or that tamarind fruits are rich in protein and antioxidants, containing 40 percent more protein than the same serving size of avocado?

FTA’s just-launched “From Tree to Fork” campaign is a fun, informative and colourful way to learn about some of the most undervalued fruits and vegetables that come from trees. Many of the species that will be highlighted over the coming weeks provide essential nutrition, dietary diversity, medicine and sources of income to people everywhere, yet they are rarely found in Western markets. When sustainably managed in agroforestry systems, increasing evidence shows that food trees are also primary engines of sustainable agricultural transformation, limiting deforestation while enriching the soil and generating valuable crops and wood products.

As we celebrate the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) and the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, we invite you to join us in recognizing the first ‘superfruit’ of the campaign: Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

Stay tuned for more nutritious fruits!


FTA Kunming Conference – Results

imagethumb.jpgOn 22–24 June 2021, FTA organized the FTA Kunming International Conference 2021, which explored the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in enhancing diverse and sustainable landscapes. Hosted both virtually and in Kunming, China in cooperation with the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Research Institute for Resource Insects, Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), the event provided an extensive set of recommendations for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, as well as the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15), which will also be held in Kunming in October 2021. Results and all videos from the conference can be accessed now! Read more.

New FTA Brief: Contribution of forests and trees to food security and nutrition

imagethumb.jpgLast May FTA released a Policy Brief titled Contribution of forests and trees to food security and nutrition, illustrating extensively the many ways through which forests and trees play a key, yet largely unrecognized, role in sustaining food production and food security and nutrition (FSN). The aim is to facilitate the use of such knowledge to inform policy and decision making in forestry and FSN related areas, as well as actions meant to build back better in a post-pandemic world.

Did you read it?

Launch: Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) on agroecology

imagethumb.jpgA new Agroecology TPP initiative aims to spearhead the transition to agroecological farming systems that make the most of nature’s resources without damaging or depleting them. The partnership was launched on 3 June at a side event of the 48th Plenary of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 48). Shortly afterwards on 15 June, the Policies for Agroecology event brought together 20 speakers and over 570 participants to discuss how policies can help scale up agroecology at various levels of governance. The event was broadcast in 3 languages and can be re-played entirely (EN, FR, ES).

Read more about the TPP Launch.

Adapting to a changing climate with forests and agroforestry

imagethumb.jpgIt is widely known that forests and trees are essential in providing solutions to the ever-expanding climate crisis. A recent co-publication from FTA and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) titled Addressing forestry and agroforestry in national adaptation plans, provide a guideline for countries to involve forests, trees and agroforestry in their National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to deal with climate change.

Read more.

Current timber production in Brazilian forest concessions can only be sustained for 35 years (French only)

imagethumb.jpgLaunched in 2006, the forest concessions in the Brazilian Amazon aim to provide a legal framework for sustainable timber production. However, according to a new study published in June in Forest Ecology and Management, the current rate of exploitation of these areas is far from sustainable… Read more.

Updates on the Asia-Pacific Roadmap on primary forest conservation

imagethumb.jpgA further online expert workshop on primary forest conservation was organized on 23-25 March 2021 to take stock of the progress made in the development of the roadmap and prepare the next steps in the roadmap. Proceedings are now available!

Towards Natural Rubber as a Response to Climate Change – Proceedings of the workshop

imagethumb.jpgEighty-five percent of rubber, a key global commodity, is produced by smallholder farmers. As such, it has great potential to contribute to sustainable development, alleviate poverty, boost rural development, and facilitate a sustainable bioeconomy. FTA, together with the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), the International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), recently published the proceedings and extended abstracts of the digital workshop on natural rubber systems and climate change organized on 23-25th June 2020.

Document and recordings from the event here.

From governments down to local realities: Sentinel communities in the Congo Basin

imagethumb.jpgAfter 10 years of research in the Congo Basin, FTA has published its third Sentinel Landscape study. Together, the scientific partners of the Central Africa Humid Tropics Transect Sentinel Landscape (CAFHUT) analyzed four sites where the pressures of urban development, population growth and forest commercialization are rapidly changing the landscape. The recommendations and policy actions emerging from studies like these could mean conserving these rainforests, which absorb 370 million metric tons of the planet’s carbon emissions every year – more than even the Amazon.

How much do you know about the Congo basin?

New methodology proposes mechanisms to support integrated landscape initiatives and make access to finance more inclusive

imagethumb.jpgTropenbos International (TBI) together with World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have developed a methodology that could make funding for integrative landscape management initiatives more inclusive. The research helps identify the key stakeholders linked to financial flows and examines their perspectives, motivations and the mechanisms they use to channel funding from investors through brokers or intermediaries to individual or recipient groups. From this methodology 2 recent case studies, one in Indonesia and another in Uganda have been released. Our partner TBI plans to publish further studies (one per month) that illustrate and make use of the methodology; all case studies are implemented by partners of FTA, with support of FTA and TBI.

Further case studies will be added to their website at this link, as they publish them. Stay updated!

Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. News photos, from top, by: Austin Smith/World Agroforestry; Michael Padmanaba/CIFOR; P. Sist/CIRAD; Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR.

Contact us



Contribution of forests and trees to food security and nutrition


Collection and consumption of wild forest fruits in rural Zambia


Agriculture extensification and associated socio-ecological trade-offs in smallholder farming systems of Zambia


Climate change adaptation in and through agroforestry: four decades of research initiated by Peter Huxley


Embedding stakeholders' priorities into the low-emission development of the East African dairy sector


The costs of elite-oriented multi-stakeholder forums to address deforestation: the case of the Green Municipalities Program in the Brazilian Amazon


Re-integrating ecology into integrated landscape approaches


Onto the Farm, into the Home: How Intrahousehold Gender Dynamics Shape Land Restoration in Eastern Kenya


Linking food, nutrition and the environment in Indonesia: A perspective on sustainable food systems


Intégration de la foresterie et de l'agroforesterie dans les plans d'adaptation nationaux – Directives complémentaires


Establishment success of Brazil nut trees in smallholder Amazon forest restoration depends on site conditions and management


FTA Kunming 2021

ShadeMotion software improves crop yields in Latin America

Sri Lanka Bans Artificial Fertilizers and Agrochemicals, president's address


Developing smallholder-oriented integrated pest management strategies for fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda Smith) management

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


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