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Looking back at a year of achievements (Vol. 2, Issue 1)

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FTA communications


I’m pleased to welcome you to the first CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) newsletter for 2018, featuring a review of the program’s most-read pieces from last year, which highlights a bumper crop of research and engagement with stakeholders.

Of the varied scientific and development work carried out in 2017, much was covered in blog articles and program documents made available on FTA’s website. Gender, agroforestry and “rainfall recycling” were strong points of interest; related themes are covered in the recent blogs and publications below, along with work on landscapes, orphan crops and restoration.

FTA worked closely with a number of partners throughout the year – seen, for instance, through strong collaboration at various global events with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

Another achievement of 2017, fundamental to FTA’s research in the years to come, was the positive evaluation of the program’s livelihood systems theme from the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC), which stated that the proposed research was of very high quality with “a clear strategy for impact”, as outlined in this article. The ISPC praised the “research-in-development” approach of the flagship, which “if implemented well, can set an example for other CGIAR Research Programs.”

These achievements set the scene for a productive year ahead, the second of Phase 2, with a promise of strengthened and impactful research. Let’s make it happen!

Please send your thoughts and feedback to

Vincent Gitz, FTA Director

Special feature

FTA in 2017: A bumper crop of research, articles and presentations

imagethumb.jpgDuring the first year of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) Phase 2, which runs from 2017 to 2022, the program strengthened its global presence by participating in international events, continuing to produce extensive research publications, and making new efforts to disseminate its work. Find out which blog articles, research publications, presentations and program documents were most-read on the FTA website throughout last year.


FTA’s research domain on livelihood systems receives strong rating

imagethumb.jpgFTA’s livelihood systems research theme, known as Flagship 2, has received the highest possible rating of “strong” from the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC), in an important outcome for the collective work of all FTA scientists involved in reformulating the program’s Phase 2 Proposal. The flagship develops and promotes innovations in a range of tree-based systems in terms of management, markets and policies, to reduce poverty, increase food and nutrition security, protect the environment, enhance natural capital and strengthen people’s capacity to adapt to climate change.

Picks and spades can triple farmers’ yields in Kenyan drylands

imagethumb.jpgA simple farming technique is proving effective in Kenya, where severe land degradation coupled with drastic changes in climate has meant that many people frequently face food shortages. Dramatic differences in yields have been achieved through simple planting basins, a water-conservation technology. Also known as zai pits by the Western African farmers who innovated them, the planting basins are now being modified and tested, not just across villages, but in several countries across the continent.

FTA and IUFRO highlight cooperation at Global Landscapes Forum

imagethumb.jpgFTA, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) hosted a Discussion Forum titled Rainfall Recycling as a Landscape Function: Connecting SDGs 6, 13 and 15 at the recent Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), which shed light on the role of forests and trees in the climate debate, building on a scientific review paper about the relationship between forests and water, and ahead of globally relevant assessments expected later this year.

FTA scientists feature in innovative series of talks on landscapes

imagethumb.jpgLandscapes Talks, which piqued the interest of audiences at the recent GLF in Bonn, Germany, aim to be a “space for leading academics and scientists to provide short talks on current landscape activities”. FTA scientists appeared multiple times during the series of engaging talks, making for powerful statements and diverse insights into the program’s research, covering topics such as integrated landscape approaches, peatlands, restoration opportunities and new perspectives on landscapes and water.

Defining critical issues in forest ecosystem services in Bhutan

imagethumb.jpgAs communities move to restore mountainous forest landscapes in Bhutan, boosting essential ecosystem services and protecting from disaster risk, more research is needed to determine the effects on national development, as defined by the country’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. A new paper looks at the connections between forests and GNH, which serves as a yardstick for legislature and ensures a balance between the four pillars of environmental conservation, cultural preservation, equitable socioeconomic development and good governance.

Good investments in agriculture and forestry can benefit smallholders and landscapes

imagethumb.jpgTropenbos International (TBI), FTA and partners held a well-attended panel discussion titled “Inclusive Finance and Business Models – Actions for Upscaling” at the recent GLF, to explore the idea that companies are increasingly being seen as key partners in scaling-up efforts to achieve sustainable landscapes. Moving away from a “do no harm” mindset, the discussion allowed panelists to share ideas about what a “do-good” approach means in practice, and how it can be scaled up.

Orphan crops for improving diets

imagethumb.jpgAt present, orphan crops – neglected and underutilized crops – are not extensively researched, despite their potential for realizing economic and dietary benefits for the people who cultivate and consume them, as well as bringing environmental gains to the landscapes where they are grown. Two projects hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi are working to improve these crops and promote their utilization.

How are China, Nepal and Ethiopia restoring forest landscapes?

imagethumb.jpgA study included in a special issue of International Forestry Review on forest landscape restoration (FLR), which was launched on the sidelines of the GLF, examined how the devolution of access and management rights to local communities provided incentives for them to invest in restoration activities. Turning to successful FLR programs in China, Nepal and Ethiopia to identify lessons that could be applied elsewhere, the research focused on people managing forests in mountainous and hilly areas.

Climate change atlas presents suitability maps for agroforestry species in Central America

imagethumb.jpgICRAF, in collaboration with Bioversity International and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), recently published an atlas titled Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates, which presented current and future suitability maps for 54 species that are commonly used as shade in agroforestry systems in Central America. The atlas addresses knowledge gaps by providing detailed suitability maps for each species.

Why gender matters for restoration

imagethumb.jpgA recent dialogue on forest landscape restoration (FLR) and gender equality in Nairobi, the second in a series of events on the topic hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), together with FTA and partners, delved into experiences from East Africa with an aim to create integrated solutions. Participants looked at examples from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, along with the benefits of grounding gender equality in FLR — and the risks of not doing so.

Eighteen institutions sign up to Tropical managed Forests Observatory

imagethumb.jpgThe Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO) was recently formalized by a collaboration agreement signed by 18 institutions, including FTA’s partner institution Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). The unique network will now be able to continue monitoring the world’s logged tropical forests and drafting recommendations for sustainable silviculture – a crucial challenge in light of biodiversity erosion and climate change. The network is expected to enjoy greater visibility and to develop more projects to ensure its sustainability.

Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: N. Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR; A. Mamo/ICRAF; A. Mamo/ICRAF; P. Valbuena/GLF; GLF video; C. Shekhar Karki/CIFOR; P. Valbuena/GLF; ICRAF; M. Edliadi/CIFOR; ICRAF; TmFO.

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Bridging funding gaps for climate and sustainable development: Pitfalls, progress and potential


MRV for REDD+ in Mexico: The political process of a technical system


Review of the CFC/ICCO/Bioversity project on cacao germplasm evaluation (1998-2010)

Gender matters in Forest Landscape Restoration: A framework for design and evaluation


Forest and landscape restoration severely constrained by a lack of attention to the quantity and quality of tree seed: Insights from a global survey


Forest Landscape Restoration in Hilly and Mountainous Regions: Special Issue


Entry points for enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation


Upgrading Tanzania’s artisanal and small-scale mining through investor partnerships: Opportunities and challenges


Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates: an atlas


Forest ecosystem services and the pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness


Tropical forest-transition landscapes: a portfolio for studying people, tree crops and agro-ecological change in context


Co-investment in ecosystem services: global lessons from payment and incentive schemes


Analysis of gender research on forest, tree and agroforestry value chains in Latin America


Bridging molecular genetics and participatory research


Trait-based approaches for guiding the restoration of degraded agricultural landscapes in East Africa


Bridging funding gaps for climate and sustainable development: Pitfalls, progress and potential of private finance


Agroforestry in landscape restoration for livelihoods, climate and ecosystem services

Enhancing tenure security and gender equality in the context of forest landscape restoration


‘Rainfall recycling’ as a landscape function: Connecting SDGs 6, 13 and 15


Working Across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area – from Aspiration to Action
February 20-22, 2018
FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy

Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) 2018
April 23-25, 2018
Alana Yogyakarta Hotel and Convention Center, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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.

We would like to thank all donors who support this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

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