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Cherishing and strengthening biodiversity for our future (Vol. 4, Issue 3)

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FTA communications

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

FTA Director

Special feature

Sentinel Solutions for the Anthropocene

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. imagethumb.jpg 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. imagethumb.jpg 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.




COVID-19-led ban on wild meat could take protein off the table for millions of forest dwellers

imagethumb.jpgLack 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: More on Covid-19 from our partners:

FTA’s new Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Agenda and Action Plan 2020-2021 is released!

imagethumb.jpgThe revised version of the FTA gender strategy, called Gender Equality and Social Inclusion – A Revised Agenda and Action Plan for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry 2020-2021 draws on the program’s tradition of quality gender research and its experience strengthening gender integration across program activities and processes. Building on and complementing its original efforts and strategy, FTA continues to view gender integration in research as a fundamental part of doing good science (European Commission 2011), and approaches gender as a theme that cuts across every aspect of the FTA research portfolio. Read about it and download the document here.

Indonesia’s secret forests: Underground water world

imagethumb.jpgIn 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.

Call for contributions ETFRN News 60: Restoring African drylands – EXTENDED UNTIL 2nd May midnight CEST!

imagethumb.jpgETFRN 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 ( and Chris Reij ( by 2nd May 2020 midnight CEST. More information here.

Enhancing African orphan crops with genomics

imagethumb.jpgMalnutrition 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.

Seeds for trees: Survey from our partner Bioversity on seed supply chains in Southeast Asia

imagethumb.jpgGerminating 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.

In the tropics, intact forests are losing their ability to absorb carbon

imagethumb.jpgThe 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.

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

imagethumb.jpgBurnt by fire, trees thicken bark: but a Green Climate Fund project encourages them to fruit instead. 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. Read how this approach is helping The Gambia’s transition toward a more climate-resilient, natural resource-based economy. Further read on the Banjul Tree Cover Resolution.

An Alliance for Trees: Why forest biodiversity is “too precious to lose”

imagethumb.jpgFrom 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.

The role of agroforestry in forest restoration

imagethumb.jpgAgroforestry 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.

The role of forests at the turn of the decade: in conversation with René Boot, TBI’s Director

imagethumb.jpgA 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.

Forland project from CIRAD for sustainable and integrated territorial management

imagethumb.jpgAlready 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.

Vulnerability mapping for forest conservation and restoration

imagethumb.jpgOver 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.

An exploratory study of cost-benefit analysis of landscape restoration

imagethumb.jpgOwing 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.

Contact us

Recent publications


Gender Equality and Social Inclusion: A Revised Agenda and Action Plan for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry 2020-2021


Mapping tree species vulnerability to multiple threats as a guide to restoration and conservation of tropical dry forests


Climate change policy networks: connecting adaptation and mitigation in multiplex networks in Peru


Fostering natural forest regeneration on former agricultural land through economic and policy interventions


Lao PDR’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC): Progress, opportunities, and challenges in the forestry sector


Suivi indépendant des clauses sociales en République Démocratique du Congo


Independent monitoring of social clauses in the Democratic Republic of Congo


Unpacking ‘gender’ in joint forest management: Lessons from two Indian states


Mangrove blue carbon stocks and dynamics are controlled by hydrogeomorphic settings and land-use change


Designing for engagement: A Realist Synthesis Review of how context affects the outcomes of multi-stakeholder forums on land use and/or land-use change


Collecting Evidence of FLEGT-VPA Impacts for Improved FLEGT Communication


Cocoa agroforest multifunctionality and soil fertility explained by shade tree litter traits


Designing for engagement: Insights for more equitable and resilient multi-stakeholder forums


Models of participation in multi-stakeholder forums: Results of a realist synthesis review


Total ecosystem carbon stocks of mangroves across broad global environmental and physical gradients


The Influence of Forests on Freshwater Fish in the Tropics: A Systematic Review


Aiming for Sustainability and Scalability: Community Engagement in Forest Payment Schemes


Indigenous tenure security and local participation in climate mitigation programs: Exploring the institutional gaps of REDD+ implementation in the Peruvian Amazon


Forest or oil palm plantation? Interpretation of local responses to the oil palm promises in Kalimantan, Indonesia


Landscape and livelihood changes in Sabah: Development in Kampung Mangkawagu


Soil carbon stocks in Indonesian (agro) forest transitions: Compaction conceals lower carbon concentrations in standard accounting


Intersecting and dynamic gender rights to néré, a food tree species in Burkina Faso


Ecosystem-based Adaptation Through the Lens of Community Preferences


An Exploratory Study of Cost-Benefit Analysis of Landscape Restoration


COVID-19 and what it means for wild meat

When domestic policies are not enough: A call for a regional approach to wood fuel governance

INDONESIA’S SECRET FORESTS: Underground water world

Sub-Saharan Africa: Regional exchange on wood fuel policies

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.

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