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FTA celebrates 10 years of achievements and sets ambitions for the future

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The “final” FTA event on Dec. 9 culminated 10 impactful years of research for development; it brought together 338 attendees from over 50 countries to hear about the partnership’s top accomplishments and lessons learned. These successes light the collective path forward into a new decade of continued research and impact.

“This is a springboard,” said Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) Director General, and Director of the first phase of FTA, Robert Nasi. “…We don’t want to stop here, as there is much more work to do in light of the recent COP26, the CBD and the news you see every day. We have a good team; we have a good set of partners. I see no reason why we should stop here.”

To begin the event, lead scientists from FTA’s Flagship programs and managing-partner organizations presented chapters from the FTA Highlights series, which showcases a decade of results, findings and achievements. More than 200 scientists were involved as authors in the highlights series’ 18 volumes. The event was organized around four sections which represent a partition of the highlights volumes.

The full event can be replayed in EN (ES and FR to follow). Download the agenda of the event.


Session #1: Forests, Trees and Agroforestry for Biodiversity and Food Systems

The first session was moderated by Linda Collette, member of the Independent Steering Committee of FTA, and showcased volumes two through six of the highlights series. Each of these chapters emphasize research and impactful projects related to tree genetic resources, biodiversity, landscape restoration, food systems and wildlife.

Leading the way, Ramni Jamnadass, FTA’s Flagship 1 Leader and senior scientist at ICRAF, presented on seeds and seedlings (Vol.2). She highlighted the need for diverse, high-quality seeds to sprout successful landscape restoration initiatives that are good for business and for ecosystems. “We have seen soaring tree-planting pledges over the past few years,” she said, “so this is an opportune time to bring up the seeds and to ask where they are coming from. …remember: garbage in, garbage out. Quality in, quality out.”

Read volume 2

Senior researcher at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Barbara Vinceti, similarly reflected the need for diversity in her presentation on conservation of tree biodiversity and forest management (Vol. 3). In light of the ongoing environmental challenges facing the planet, “genetic diversity is a dimension still overlooked, so we need to include it explicitly in forest conservation and management,” she said.

Read volume 3

However, restoring ecosystem services is a difficult topic from a development perspective because it is multi-dimensional and multi-scalar, according to senior CIFOR scientist, Manuel Guariguata. Presenting on forest and landscape restoration (Vol. 4), he summarized FTA’s contributions to research and policy governance. He also celebrated the partnership’s on-the-ground implementation of FLR initiatives, “The restoration agenda is the bread and butter of FTA partners, and we have contributed a lot in this regard” he said. “We also learned a lot. For instance, we learned it is critical to implement FLR through landscape approaches.”

Read volume 4

Next, senior CIFOR scientist Amy Ickowitz showcased tree and agroforestry contributions to food security and nutrition. Ten years of research across Africa, Asia and South America has increasingly proved the links between trees and micro-nutrient-rich diets. “A lot more still needs to be done to have these contributions [from food trees] both better understood and, more importantly, better integrated in national discourses and policy,” said Ickowitz.

Read volume 5

Wild meat is another important, albeit controversial, source of nutrition that comes from forests. World expert and CIFOR senior associate, Julia Fa, has worked with the Bushmeat Research Initiative (BRI) to study how wild meat consumption impacts the environment, contributes to food security and impacts human health through its association with zoonotic diseases. She and her team have worked in more than 40 countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done in the last 10 years, and based on this, there is now an agenda to translate research to action, to link implementation and further learning and to ensure that wild meat is sustainably sourced and harvested,” said Fa.

Read volume 6

Session #2 – Forests, Trees and Agroforestry for Livelihoods

The second session was moderated by René Boot, member of the FTA ISC and Director of Tropenbos International; it centred on the highlights’ volumes seven through nine plus 15. These chapters reveal how FTA and its partners have worked to improve well-being and generate income through trees for people in developing areas.

For example, FTA Management Team member and CATIE senior scientist, Eduardo Somarriba, discussed how Trees on Farms (ToF), can generate income for farmers while also providing valuable ecosystem services. He especially focused on a case from Honduras where trees have been planted as “live fences” to facilitate rotational livestock grazing. “It is possible to increase innovation with trees on farms, but we need solid science to convince farmers, land-use planners and policymakers,” he said. “You need a lot of communication, facilitation and to show good financial performance.”

Read volume 7 (COMING SOON)

Sustainable timber harvesting for bioenergy is another way that trees can act as engines for sustainable development. INBAR representative, Li Yanxia, discussed how a wood-based circular bioeconomy could benefit local communities and global economies while reducing the ecological footprint of deforestation. “Efforts should not only invest in building natural capital,” she said. “Attention should also be directed towards building human capacity and understanding the social dimensions of the wood value chains through forest tenure systems, etc.”

Read volume 8 (COMING SOON)

Transitioning to a circular bioeconomy will require context-specific approaches that work at scale. In his presentation, CIFOR-ICRAF chief scientist and FTA Flagship 2 Leader Fergus Sinclair specifically promoted FTA’s work on Options by Context (OxC), a set of performance metrics that allow farmers and researchers to identify the best options for agricultural development and land restoration in their local areas. He also spotlighted the recent launch of the Agroecology Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) that FTA incubated, and which brings together people from around the world to discuss sustainable food systems transitions. “There are multiple transition pathways depending on local contexts and partnerships; this is what allows us to scale up sustainably.”

Read volume 9 (COMING SOON)

None of this work is possible without financial support and increased investment in sustainable forest and tree-based commodities. Presenting the FTA Highlight Volume 10 on sustainable value chains, finance and investment in forestry & tree commodities, Michael Brady, FTA’s Flagship 3 Leader, outlined three core research areas for sustainable value chains: institutional arrangements, business models for smallholders and SMEs and responsible finance among financial service providers. He noted that research this decade has especially focused on sustainable certification systems for agro-commodities such as timber, rubber, shea, oil palm and cocoa. “This particular topic very much requires a systems approach looking at institutional, environmental and socioeconomic elements,” he said. “None of these can be really ignored when you consider value chains, finance and investment.”

Read volume 10

Cross-cutting all of FTA’s work on livelihoods is the need to advance gender equality and social inclusion. FTA’s Gender coordinator and senior researcher at The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, Marlène Elias outlined FTA’s Theory of Change, which places inclusion at the heart of the organization’s structure and encourages research done specifically with a gender and social inclusion lens. The goal is for women and other marginalized groups to share equal rights, access and tenure to forest and tree-based landscapes. “What we’ve shown in this work is not only that gender inequality can hinder efforts to achieve positive environmental outcomes but also how policies and interventions that focus on the environment can advance gender equality,” she said.

Read volume 15

Session #3 – Forests, Trees and Agroforestry for Climate change and the SDGs

The third session of the event focused on how FTA’s research aligns with the SDGs and contributes to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moderated by Florencia Montagnini, member of FTA’s ISC, the presenters spoke on volumes 11-14 of the highlights series.

Starting off, Christopher Martius, CIFOR senior scientist and Flagship 5 Leader, offered several examples from FTA’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+. This work has helped governments set target emissions levels and to implement monitoring systems to track progress. While celebrating the work that was achieved over the past 10 years, Martius reminded the audience that long-term changes take time: “Oftentimes projects have a lot of high expectations,” he said. “In a 10-year program such as this, you will start seeing results, but it takes a lot of time to effectuate these changes in really complex policy environments.”

Read volume 11 

It is well-known that forests and trees act as carbon sinks and ecosystem service providers. The mitigation agenda has often hidden a crucial adaptation agenda for forests and trees. FTA has worked to shift paradigms towards the key role of forests and trees for adaptation of various sectors.  FTA’s approach also looks at how social and ecological systems can work together and adapt to climate change, according to senior CIFOR scientist Alexandre Meybeck. “You need to have research embedded in implementation,” he said. “We need normal interactions between actors on the ground and scientists to support them in creating the new systems for the future.”

Read volume 12 (COMING SOON)

In order to facilitate mutually-beneficial relationships between humans and ecosystems, FTA promotes a multifunctional landscapes approach that uses careful resource planning and implementation to generate more sustainable futures. Scientist at ICRAF, Lalisa Duguma, presented on how the organization has begun implementing these approaches in the humid tropics, managing trade-offs and synergies across multiple project sites. “We can’t solve all the problems at once, but they all need to be confronted in a way” he said. “There is a need for multiple projects to complement one another to achieve multi-functional landscapes. …for this, we need an articulated portfolio of research and action on the ground.”

Read volume 13 (COMING SOON)

Beyond on-the-ground approaches, FTA works with governments to build policies that harmonize human development with nature. Senior ICRAF scientist Beria Leimona spoke about how this work has involved advocating for multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs), supporting community forestry initiatives and lobbying for fair government policies. “The rich portfolios of local, national and international work, and the theories of change that FTA has developed, can support good governance principles being synergised across scales,” she said.

Session #4 – Results and impact

During the fourth session of presentations, led by Management Team member and CIRAD senior scientist Plinio Sist, scientists gave more details about how FTA measures its results and impact across scales.

Andrew Wardell began with a presentation on how FTA facilitates long-term capacity development. For example, his team collated data from the decade to track impacts and found there have been almost 80,000 downloads of the climate change tools that have been developed by FTA Flagship 5. Another example of capacity development includes the work done with the University of Kisangani, DRC, to train graduate students in forestry science and development. Already, the program has over 200 local students and graduates who will hopefully continue to work in the tropical rainforests of DRC. In the future, Wardell believes “there is a need to strengthen education systems and capacities in the global south, rather than relying on masters and PhD students from the global north. …This needs to be accompanied by monitoring and evaluation systems that look at the capacity development functions, including through ex post impact studies.”

Read volume 16 (COMING SOON)

In addition to capacity development, research for impact requires monitoring, evaluation, learning and impact assessment (MELIA). “Evolving research for development approaches require evolution in how we conceptualize and assess research,” said Brian Belcher, senior researcher at Royal Roads University. “How do we know that we’re doing the right thing? How do we know that we’re being effective?” To answer these questions, FTA has developed and applied an innovative approach based on integrative, challenge-driven Theories of Change and an organizing framework. These tools allow FTA to conduct qualitative assessments of some of the impacts of the program at scale and on key development objectives. Impact of FTA research overall has been substantial, it is estimated that FTA’s work has:

  • Brought between 1.8–34.4 million ha of land under
  • Provided between 5.1–19 million people with better means to exit poverty.
  • Brought 25.7–133.4 million ha of forests under enhanced protection. This represents up to 125.4 Gt of sequestered carbon dioxide.
  • Brought 59.5–204 million ha of land under better management via improved policy, monitoring and management practices.
  • Provided 1.12–3.43 million people with additional means to improve food and nutritional security.

Read volume 17

Following each set of presentations, the audience was asked through a poll whether they thought more implementation or more research was needed going forward. Although there was some debate, it is interesting that most poll respondents chose “more implementation.” The scientists agreed that implementation is now urgent, however, the relationship between research and implementation cannot be easily divided. “Do we need more research or implementation?,” said Meybeck. “We need a greater understanding of the relations between the two. We need more implementation of research and more research on implementation.”

Final discussion on the future of FTA

The closing panel brought together five distinguished speakers to discuss partnerships and new directions going forward. When moderator and FTA Director, Vincent Gitz, asked how organizations like FTA should work with actors in the global south going forward, Chairperson of the Independent Steering Committee of FTA, Anne-Marie Izac said, “Great focus on the role of partnerships is the very raison-d’être of FTA. …We have a relatively clear path ahead of us in terms of scaling up to build on local partneships… and I’m extremely hopeful.”

Sist (CIRAD) agreed that after 10 years and looking forward to a new FTA, we should put emphasis on strengthening our connection with society and with other actors in the field: “Our resources must breach the broader society if we want to catalyse large-scale changes that address climate change and other global challenges” he said.

Bas Louman from Tropenbos International, an organization that joined the set of FTA managing partners in 2017, also spoke on the value of an integrated, research-for-development approach for the new FTA, from upstream research to downstream, and back. “In spite of so much money being dedicated to climate, very little of that money is dedicated to research,” he said. “People just spend money and start implementing without really taking the time to think about what they’re doing. We need to help the word correct for that, to continue learning at the same time action is being made on the ground.”

To combat this trend, Li Xuejiao Deputy Director of the Division of International Cooperation at the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) upheld the importance of ongoing South-South collaboration in the coming decade. “Research plays a very important role in terms of putting items on the agenda in the first place,” she said. Li pointed to ongoing networking opportunities for Chinese organizations through the FTA network.

Similarly, Erich Schaitza, Director General of Brazil’s Embrapa Florestas, praised the networking potential of FTA: “We have to have innovation to promote wealth sustainably,” he said. “Initiatives like FTA are incredibly important to us.”

In closing, Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, called on the audience to remain hopeful about future progress and to work together to achieve goals. He said, “Often it is difficult to see the magnitude, increment and annual changes in the work we live in. But when we look back 10 years, we see the huge magnitude on how some things have changed and evolved, on the progress made for our planetary environment and people. Not all is solved of course, but it gives us hope that we can be effective for the future… And as the famous proverb says, ‘if we want to go far, we have to go together.’”

Stay tuned for the next decade of FTA, and a special thanks to all the scientists and partners who have made these past 10 years possible.

All the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations are now available below


This article was written by Daniella Silva.

This article was produced by 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 ICRAF, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • New partnership with Google Arts & Culture brings more visibility to trees

New partnership with Google Arts & Culture brings more visibility to trees

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Eight stunning digital exhibits to reduce humans’ “plant blindness” surrounding forests, trees and agroforestry

Forests and trees are allies in the fight to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, but it is not always easy to see their contributions to livelihoods, ecosystems, food security and nutrition. On Dec. 9, FTA launches its partnership with Google Arts & Culture to bring audiences eight visually-engaging exhibits for forests, trees and agroforestry. The prestigious collaboration makes 10 years of forest-based research and impact more accessible to global audiences.

“As scientists, we were pleased to create exhibits with Google Arts & Culture, a new way to bring our important message to global audiences: trees are drivers of sustainable development,” said FTA Director, Vincent Gitz, “they are the cornerstone of our future.”

This work forms part of a larger Google collaboration with over 60 international organizations. Together, the partners aim to reduce “plant blindness” — the tendency for people to have difficulty empathizing with plants and the environment at risk.

Explore these eight exhibits from FTA and its strategic partners, featuring compelling images, Google Streetview, videos, key messages and infographics and find out more about our research!

A Global Partnership for Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Learn more about FTA and the scope of its international work!

Access the story of FTA here!

The Forest Transition Curve

Explore the relationship between trees, humans and ecosystem services over time.

Learn about the Forest Transition Curve!

Trees on Farms

Find out how planting trees on farms (agroforestry) makes good business sense while also contributing to healthy ecosystems and food security and nutrition.

Read about the benefits of adding trees to farms!

Forest Landscape Restoration

Learn more about the 6 principles of FLR and the top 7 tree-planting misconceptions!

Did you know there are many ways to achieve FLR?

FTA Highlights of a Decade: From research to impact

This exhibit showcases FTA’s achievements over the past 10 years.

Access 10 years of research in a nutshell!

From Tree to Fork

Did you know that trees and forests are the key to the world’s future food security and nutrition? Learn more about how trees provide healthy foods, cultural traditions and jobs to people everywhere.

How many of these fruits have you tasted?

Ingenious Innovations

The tree sector is often perceived to be a low-tech world… time to change your opinions! Read up on these top 11 innovations that FTA and its partners have developed.

Innovations are at the core of forestry!

Roleplaying Agroecology

Play along as a smallholder farmer, policy maker and palm-oil plantation manager to learn more about the difficult decisions that we all need to make to protect our planet. What choices will you make?

Play along with us!


The full Google campaign with 60+ partner pages and curated exhibits will be released early next year, sensitizing more people to the vital role of trees for climate adaptation, biodiversity, food security and nutrition. Stay tuned for more!

This article was written by Daniella Silva.

This article was produced by 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 ICRAF, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Petén’s community forest concessions: A pillar of forest conservation and livelihoods development in Guatemala

Petén’s community forest concessions: A pillar of forest conservation and livelihoods development in Guatemala

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Joint FTA/PIM research has generated scientific evidence of the socio-economic performance of community forest concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) in Petén, Guatemala, which has informed technical documents and the revision of the technical norms for concession renewal by Guatemala's Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) in September 2019 as well as the first renewal of a community concession contract (Cooperative Carmelita) in December 2019. The study, led by Bioversity/ICRAF and carried out in close collaboration with CIFOR, Rainforest Alliance, the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) and local partners, covered all 12 community forest concessions with an area of about 400,000 ha. Photo by FTA/PIM
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FTA-PIM research documents show strong benefits of community forest concessions

A quarter-century-long experiment with community forest concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala’s Petén region has become a shining example of how community stewardship of tropical forests can contribute to forest conservation and livelihoods development. Yet as concession contracts come up for renewal,[1] competing interests such as cattle ranching, tourism, oil exploitation and drug trafficking could threaten this model of success.

Established in 1990, the Maya Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Central America. Forty percent of its area has been set aside as a Multiple Use Zone to promote sustainable forest use. Starting in the second half of the 1990s, 12 community forest concessions were granted to local communities for 25 years, covering an area of about 400,000 ha. Each concession is operated by a community forest enterprise (CFE), which extracts timber and non-timber forest products sustainably, as documented by FSC certification.

Joint research under the CGIAR Research Programs on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) published in 2019 shows that communities can skillfully manage and conserve forests while strengthening livelihoods and generating other benefits. In the nine active concessions,[2] which together occupy more than 350,000 ha, deforestation rates were close to zero (0.1% per year), compared to 1% per year in the core zone and 5.5% per year in the buffer zone. In these concessions, sustainable forest management has allowed CFE member households to move out of extreme poverty – and numerous households out of poverty altogether. Forest-based income has contributed to improved housing, education and health, and overall livelihoods development.

“Petén’s community forest concessions represent a model of forest governance that shows how granting long-term forest resource use rights to local communities can lead to substantial benefits for both forest conservation and local livelihoods,” said Dietmar Stoian, a scientist with World Agroforestry (ICRAF, one of FTA’s managing partners) and lead author of the above-mentioned analysis of the socioeconomic performance of the community forest enterprises.

Findings from the analysis of the active and inactive concessions informed the technical norms for concession renewal by Guatemala’s Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) in September 2019, as well as the first renewal of a community concession contract (Cooperative Carmelita) in December 2019. The analysis was led by The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT/ICRAF and carried out in close collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, FTA’s lead managing partner), Rainforest Alliance, the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP, and other local partners.

Widespread interest and engagement

The attention paid to the evolution and outcomes of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala and globally has been substantial, as has been the mobilization of resources – financial, human and political – in support of it.

“There has been significant support from international cooperation and development agencies, and the results have generated widespread interest,” said Iliana Monterroso, a scientist at CIFOR and co-author of the study.

At the same time, there are threats to the continuity of the community forest concessions, as more CFEs await the renewal of their contracts over the next few years. Large-scale tourism development in the northern part of the reserve, for example, may compromise the viability of some concessions, as tourism advocates claim that timber extraction by local communities is not compatible with tourism in that part of the reserve. These advocates are behind a bill which is currently before the US Senate, that would fund a project on the Mirador Mayan archaeological site that could result in depriving the communities of their rights to sustainably harvest timber. This could affect five concessions areas, leaving them with fewer livelihood options (as the envisioned type of tourism will largely benefit external tour operators and private investors).

Vice News recently issued an interesting documentary on this case:

“This is one of the principal conflicts over land in the reserve, along with interests in expanding the area under cattle ranching and intensifying oil exploration,” said Stoian.

“An ongoing study supported by PIM will shed further light into the political economy underlying these conflicts, and explore responses from community organizations to thwart non-science-based counter-narratives put forward by powerful groups in support of their vested interests,” added Monterroso, who is leading the study.

To share their research findings and discuss implications, ICRAF and CIFOR, together with Rainforest Alliance and ACOFOP, organized two key events in 2019 around the World Bank Land & Poverty Conference in Washington.

Scientists from CIFOR were then invited to contribute to the 2020 Human Development Report for Guatemala, led by the United Nations Development Programme. This was the first time the report used a territorial approach for analyzing challenges to development. And in another panel on innovating finance for sustainable landscapes organized by FTA at the Global Landscapes Forum in Luxembourg, ACOFOP’s Maria Teresita Chinchilla Miranda shared details on the successful FSC-certified management of over 500,000 hectares of forest in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve.

ACOFOP’s commercial services branch, Community Enterprise for Forest Services (FORESCOM), was also invited to the panel following an interview wiith FTA partner Tropenbos that highlighted its various successes.[3]

CFEs now generate USD 5 million annually. With the support of ACOFOP, some community enterprises and FTA partner CATIE, FORESCOM set up a new community fund that offers member organizations flexible loans with lower interest rates than commercial banks.

Invitations to share the findings at the XXV IUFRO World Congress in Brazil (late 2019) and ACOFOP’s 30th anniversary (early 2020) triggered further debate around the future of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. And some countries, such as Indonesia, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are looking to this case to inform their own approaches in support of community forestry.

Strengthened cooperation after years of conflict

The development of the community forest concessions in Guatemala has been characterized by collective action and adaptive management. Given the diverse stakeholder groups in Petén, the degree of cooperation is all the more remarkable.

“I haven’t seen anything like this level of collaboration,” said Monterroso. “Because the model arose out of Guatemala’s peace agreements following decades of civil war, and because the concession system grants land management rights, the communities were able to organize around the specific needs of their diverse membership base. They demonstrated their capacity to do this sustainably, managing the forest for community profit without negatively affecting the environment, and developing their own mechanisms to ensure common values despite their different interests.”

The nine active CFEs were able to adapt to dynamic changes, based on different legal entities (civil society, association, cooperative and corporation) and management models. Over time, these CFEs have seen their membership grow, their staff gain business management skills, and the diversity and value of their assets grow – along with the perceived benefits for CFE members and local communities. CFEs continue working to ensure equal access to benefits for men and women members, building capacities, promoting affirmative actions such as introducing explicit rules in membership and decision-making spaces, and diversifying their engagement in value chains that also allow for the participation of women and youth.

“In a context that is highly dynamic, these CFEs have shown resilience under the constant external pressures that threaten to undermine not only their livelihoods but also their successful conservation outcomes, said Monterroso.

Mahogany: sustainable and lucrative

The availability of precious woods has been a key factor in sustaining the economic viability of the community concessions. During 2012–2016, timber sales generated a total gross income of around USD 24.7 million, with an average of 74% of that coming from sales of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Although the region is rich in other tree species, FSC-certified mahogany generates the highest returns by far. Since the species is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Petén’s CFEs have a competitive advantage in the international market when offering certified sawn wood from this species. Sales from the certified concessions also rose for non-timber products like xate (Chamaedorea palm), whose fronds are used in flower arrangements.

The CFEs have used the profits from these sales (along with better access to credit and financing) to consolidate their operations, to invest in the effective control of human-generated fires and wildfires, and to create internal financing mechanisms for small-scale start-ups like carpentry and handicrafts as well as microcredit schemes. These CFEs have also been able to overcome barriers to investments, with positive outcomes at the community and forest levels.

At the household level, forest income contributes an average of 38% of household income in the nine active CFEs. Annual forest-based income varies widely between USD 500 and USD 10,000 per household, but most CFE members have been able to move out of poverty, reinvesting that income into health, education, and other livelihood assets.

“All children of these households are benefitting from some form of formal education and are much more likely than their parents to attend high school,” said Stoian. “This allows them to search out alternative livelihood options, including management positions in the CFEs and other endeavors linked to forest conservation through sustainable operations in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.”

Overall CFE membership saw a rise of 26% between 2000 and 2017, with some CFEs providing specific incentives for women to become a member. The study also found that women have increased their participation in the active CFEs over the past two decades, either through involvement in the processing of non-timber forest products such as xate or breadnut, or through their engagement in CFE management or their boards of trustees.

“This analysis shows how community enterprises are able to sustainably generate forest income, reinvest it, and gain access to local and external financing. This allowed them to diversify their activities, add value, develop new products and place them into timber and non-timber forest product value chains,” said Stoian and Monterroso, who are committed to supporting the forest communities and the process of concession renewal through science-based evidence and engagement with stakeholders from public and private sectors and civil society.

They conclude that the evidence of both environmental and socioeconomic performance by the community concessions makes a strong case for concession renewal.

 “With five of FTA’s seven partners involved in addition to PIM, this body of research highlights the value added of the strong collaboration among FTA partners, with other CGIAR Research Programs, and with national and local partners” remarked Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA.

[1] The first concession contracts came up for renewal in 2019.

[2] In 2009, the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), the authority in charge of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, terminated the concession contract of two CFEs and suspended the management plan of a third due to noncompliance with the stipulations. These inactive concessions reflect the disadvantage they had at the onset of the devolution process in view of limited concession areas (about 50,000 ha across the three concessions), lack of high-value timber, and livelihood trajectories based on agriculture rather than forest activities.

[3] As a result of the Tropenbos interview series and the GLF Luxembourg event, FTA has released a publication on innovative finance for sustainable landscapes illustrated by the example of ACOFOP.

This article was written by Erin O’Connell.

This article was produced by 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 ICRAF, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • COVID-19 and what it means for wild meat

COVID-19 and what it means for wild meat

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Photo credit: ©Brent Stirton/Getty Images for FAO, CIFOR, CIRAD, WCS
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16 April 2020 16.00-17.00 GMT+7
(convert to your timezone here)

The spreading of diseases from animals to humans—also called zoonotic—is a public health concern in light of the current pandemic. COVID-19 that has now spread to more than 100 countries worldwide is also suspected to be originated from pangolin or bat sold in market in Wuhan, China.

As the efforts to curb pandemic accelerate, many conservationists are welcoming China’s move to outlaw hunting and consumption of wild animals. And yet, the reality is not that simple. The ban may put millions of forest dwellers at risk of food insecurity, as Indigenous or rural communities often consume wild meat as their sole source of protein.

How do we address this challenge? Can we find the middle ground to this complex reality?

This webinar is organized with the support of the TRADE HUB, SWM, FTA projects and the Bushmeat Research Initiative of CIFOR.

Register here

For more detail about event click here.

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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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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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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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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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New methodology assesses vulnerability of forests and forest-dependent people to climate change

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Villagers dependent on the forest for fuelwood, Maluku Province, Indonesia ©Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR
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Climate change is having a serious impact on many forests worldwide, along with the people who depend on them to thrive. Determining the extent of that impact is an indispensable first step to addressing this challenge.

Climate change vulnerability assessment of forests and forest-dependent people
A framework methodology 

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), in collaboration with FAO Forestry has launched a new methodology for assessing the vulnerability of forests and forest-dependent people to climate change.

The single, common approach, or framework methodology, was unveiled at the Side Event “Social and environmental justice as a trigger of robust ambitious climate action and prosperous future for all” organized on the 7th of December [see presentation here], during the UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2 – 13 December 2019) in Madrid, and is contained in a new book published as part of the FAO Forestry Paper series: Climate change vulnerability assessment of forests and forest-dependent people – A framework methodology, downloadable here.

Changing conditions

Participants in the UN Climate Change Conference are meeting to determine the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process, in particular, following international agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Figure 1 from the report – components of vulnerability to climate change

Changing weather systems are causing worrying increases in heatwaves, droughts, fire, frosts and storms, threatening the capacity of forests to produce the vital goods and services on which we all depend. Forests and trees have crucial roles to play in reducing the vulnerability of communities everywhere to climate change and helping us to adapt our agriculture, landscapes and cities to changing conditions.

Immediate action is needed to increase forest resilience and reduce the threat posed to the livelihoods and well-being of forest-dependent households, including some of the world’s most vulnerable people. But it can be difficult to determine the extent to which any given forest and its dependent communities are vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The new methodology is a response to urgent calls for simple, effective approaches to conducting assessments.

“Adequate assessments of the vulnerability of forests and forest-dependent people are indispensable for ground-level action to adapt to climate change,” said Hiroto Mitsugi, Assistant Director-General at the FAO Forestry Department. “I expect this new tool, which draws together the common elements among the many available methods and provides easy-to-follow guidance, will be of considerable assistance to forest stakeholders worldwide.”

Figure 4 from the report – the framework


Community mapping workshop in Kassena, Nankana District, Ghana,

The FTA/FAO publication provides practitioners with step-by-step guidance for conducting vulnerability assessments using the most appropriate tools. The guide will be useful for anyone conducting vulnerability assessments involving trees or forests, including forest owners, managers and administrators in the private and public sectors and in community forestry organizations, and land-use planners.

The framework methodology provides an approach that can be used in most forest situations, offering flexibility that could help to speed up efforts to improve conditions for forests and people.





This article was produced by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 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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L’échange d’idées à Oslo ouvre la voie à des progrès sur la REDD+ à Varsovie

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Les délégués se réunissent cette semaine au Stade national de Varsovie pour travailler sur les points en attente concernant la REDD+, ce programme soutenu par l’ONU ayant bloqué les négociations internationales sur le changement climatique l’an dernier à Doha, au Qatar.

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