Cherishing and strengthening biodiversity for our future (Vol. 4, Issue 3)
Cherishing and strengthening biodiversity for our future (Vol. 4, Issue 3)
30 April, 2020
Dear subscribers to the FTA newsletter, I hope that you and your families are safe and coping, staying healthy during this difficult period. We face a unique moment in history. As much as we need to, collectively, protect ourselves and our loved ones from the threats of the pandemic, this is also a moment to realize how we are all interdependent, sharing a planet and its resources, a moment to reflect upon the absolute importance of safeguarding the environment. We all expected 2020 to be the “biodiversity super-year”, what we were not expecting was something like covid-19 to put the spotlight on our relations with ecosystems, between our health, animal health and environmental health. It can be read as a more sign of the absolute need to change the way natural resources and habitats are managed: time is running out. Never like today the role and importance of trees, forests and agroforestry systems to support the resilience of ecosystems and social systems to shocks has been so evident. FTA has a long tradition of research and advocacy on these issues and we will continue to expand them even more so. Indeed, in spite of most FTA researchers being under lockdown, our work does not stop and as a research community we believe it is important to share with you our progress and achievements. Two weeks ago our lead partner CIFOR organized an incredibly well attended webinar with a Q&A session and over 500+ live attendees, on what a ban on wild meat could imply for millions of forests dwellers. The video can be replayed entirely. More similar webinars are in the making. We also proudly released our new Gender Action Plan, a milestone document that builds on the work of our dear Esther Mwangi, recently passed away, integrating new challenges and proposing a transformative approach to research. On 21st of March we celebrated the International Day of Forests while on the 22nd of April Mother Earth’s Day, in both occasions we developed engaging stories that link our research to broader themes – you will find them in this newsletter along with an incredible wealth of information from all our partners. We all hope that we will soon come back to normality, though it may take more time than what we are willing to accept right now. As foresters we are used to having long term perspective. It is an additional strength in a period of uncertainty. In similar times of threat and change, mankind has often been able to change and improve; this is what we should hope and strive for: cherishing, nurturing and strengthening biodiversity for the future of our planet and mankind. Vincent Gitz
On International Mother Earth’s Day FTA published a longform article talking about the work our scientists have done in the Nicaragua-Honduras Sentinel Landscape, for which a report has just been released. The Sentinel Landscapes initiative is an audacious commitment to collect data on biophysical, social, economic and political dimensions across and monitor respective indicators across a network of eight carefully chosen tropical forest landscapes over extended periods of time. The Sentinel Landscapes program is the global health check that we desperately need so that we can face climate change, land degradation, poverty and food security with clear vision. The idea for Sentinel Landscapes was hatched during conversations between colleagues at World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and CIFOR in 2011 and 2012. Since those first conversations, more and more academic organizations have joined the FTA program and participated to the Sentinel landscapes initiative, including Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), Bioversity International, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. In the words of one scientist, it has always been “super collaborative”. Dive into this incredible research journey.
Lack of access to wild meat could result in hunger and malnutrition for local and Indigenous communities. Conservationists have greeted China’s recent clampdown on wild animal hunting and consumption with enthusiasm. The government made the move based on scientific theories that COVID-19 was transmitted from a pangolin or a bat to humans in a market in the city of Wuhan. But this poses serious threats. See why. A webinar to discuss these issues was also organized by our partner CIFOR on the 16th of April, you can replay it fully here:
In Java’s cultural heartland, a hidden world of caverns, clear water and mysterious creatures is an ecosystem like no other. Gunung Sewu, on the Indonesian island of Java, takes its name — which means “thousands of mountains” — from its sweeping landscape of conical hills. The area, which is a UNESCO geopark, stretches 120 kilometers east to west from the hills to the coast. But its real treasure lies deep underground, in a mysterious world of rivers and caverns, adorned with crystals, stalactites and stalagmites and inhabited by unusual creatures. Sculpted by water over millions of years, this subterranean system is a magnet for adventure seekers and a key reservoir for local communities. Enjoy a dive into this ecosystem.
ETFRN News 60 is coming up! It will focus on dryland landscape restoration, from government and private sector reforestation to farmer managed natural regeneration, improvements to grasslands and rainfed agriculture, changes in tenure and governance, management of exotic species and bush encroachment. If you have a story to tell on dryland restoration in Africa and would like to share it, send a short outline (half page to a page) to the co-editors Nick Pasiecznik ([email protected]) and Chris Reij ([email protected]) by 2nd May 2020 midnight CEST. More information here.
Malnutrition in many African nations is widespread but can be addressed by diversifying food systems with a wider range of nutritious crops. To support this, the African Orphan Crops Consortium is applying genome-enabled methods to improve the production of under-researched (‘orphan’) crops on the continent. “Orphan crops”, explains Ramni Jamnadass, lead author of a Comment piece about the Consortium just published in Nature Genetics, “are crops that have received only minor investments in the past, but often are well adapted to local environments and cultures and are nutritious, being rich in vitamins, essential minerals and other micronutrients important for healthy diets. The reasons for their past neglect include a focus over the last century on increasing the yields of major crops as the primary providers of calories but with less attention being given to providing crucial micronutrients.” Learn more about the AOCC here.
Germinating seeds of Borneo Ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri) at a nursery in Sarawak, Malaysia. Restoration practitioners need information about the origin and quality of seed sources to select the right trees for their sites – trees that can survive and thrive under both current and future climates. But what information is commonly available about seed in markets, and is it sufficient for making the right choices? Fill in the online survey to find help us find out.
The capacity of intact tropical forests to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide is declining, according to a new study published on 4 March in Nature. In the Amazon, peak carbon uptake appears to have occurred in the 1990s, whereas in Africa, it was reached 10 years later. Since then, this uptake has continued to decline. This challenges the idea that these forests can continue to sequester carbon for years to come. Scientists at CIRAD are nevertheless highlighting the role sustainably managed forests and forest plantations can play in reversing this trend. Read more here and download the publication here.
From forest fires to COVID-19, this year has already presented grave challenges to human and planetary health. Now more than ever, forests have an essential role to play. On the International Day of Forests our partner the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT outlined their research approaches to ensure better conservation and restoration, with selected examples from some of our projects around the world. Read more.
Agroforestry in the Philippines has been crucial in reversing the harmful effects of deforestation and forest degradation, generating sustainable economic and environmental benefits for upland and coastal communities and indigenous people’s groups. Find out more about this success story.
A new decade has started, and international attention to forests seems at an all-time high. The 2010s were a decade of ambitious international commitments. The Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the New York Declaration on Forests, and the Warsaw REDD+ Agreement—all stress the need to conserve and restore millions of hectares of forests. Still, throughout the 2010s, deforestation rates have remained high. The 2020s will reveal whether these commitments will actually have an effect. Here René Boot, Director of Tropenbos International, reflects on the longer-term trends, and looks ahead at what lies in front of us. Read this interesting interview.
Already tested in Brazil, Colombia and Scotland, Forland is about to be deployed in other areas. This platform, developed by a consortium of five partners including CIRAD, is a valuable decision support tool for stakeholders involved in spatial planning. It was launched on 12 March in Nogent-sur-Marne, in the presence of representatives of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Read more about it here.
Over the last two decades, forest conservation and restoration has emerged as one of the leading science-based efforts to mitigate human pressures on the earth’s ecosystems. However, the planning and coordination of these efforts are complex, because individual species respond differently to the variety of anthropogenic forces that threaten forest landscapes. Fortunately, that’s exactly the challenge that motivates vulnerability mapping efforts, as carried out in this article. Read more about it.
Owing to increasing demand for landscape restoration and the limited resources available, economic analysis helps prioritize investments. Cost-benefit analysis is a commonly applied approach used in the economic analysis of landscape restoration as well as for strategizing allocation of resources. However, despite the growing amount of restoration, studies of the economic analysis of restoration itself are relatively few. To address this gap, scientists from World Agroforestry (ICRAF) conducted a systematic review of cost-benefit analyses for landscape restoration to understand the extent of existing studies. The studies were from different parts of the world although the majority were from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Read about them in this article.
Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: CGIAR – Forests, Trees and Agroforestry; CGIAR – Forests, Trees and Agroforestry; Axel Fassio/CIFOR; CIFOR; Faizal Abdul Aziz/CIFOR; Tropenbos International; Ollivier Girard/CIFOR; APFORGEN; Ricky Martin/CIFOR, Cathy Watson/World Agroforestry; R. Jalonen/Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT; Zarrel Noza/World Agroforestry; Tropenbos International; CIRAD; R.Atkinson/Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT; Ake Mamo/World Agroforestry.
The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI.
FTA thanks all donors who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.