What 2016 will bring for forests, trees and agroforestry

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Photo: Marco Antonio Escurra Sandoval for GLF 2014 photo competition

We know the big news for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) this year: the approval of the proposal for Phase II of the program. However, researchers are still busy with their current work so we asked our Flagship Coordinators what 2016 holds in store for their research area.

Livelihood Systems – new collaborations

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Management of forest and tree resources – new knowledge tools and practices

Landscape management for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods – outreach through events

Forests and climate change – fresh push from Paris agreement

Global governance, trade and Investment – supporting the debate on SME development

Gender analysis and research – focus on capacity development and adaptive learning

Sentinel Landscapes – harnessing vast data sets

Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment – evaluations in Malawi, Peru, Guinea

FergusLivelihood Systems – new collaborations

Fergus Sinclair

2016 will see the landmark publication of a special issue of Experimental Agriculture on the new ‘options by context’ approach to embedding research in development, pioneered by the FTA Livelihood Systems flagship. This underpins the expansion of communities of practice in six countries where more inclusive forest and agroforestry options are being created and ‘planned comparisons‘ of their cost effectiveness and suitability to local contexts are being mounted – together with development partners.

We achieved key advances in understanding how devolution of forest governance in Africa and REDD+ initiatives impact vulnerability, equity and empowerment of people at forest margins. These will now move from journal publications to policy dialogue that we anticipate will bring about key changes to community-based forest management.

Together with the British charity TreeAid, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) will commence new research funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on the forest-farm interface in Burkina Faso and Ghana, building on the Sentinel Landscape there. Another project is the new creation of value chain innovation platforms in Zambia, underpinning the development of a new Miombo Sentinel Landscape.

Collaborative research with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) comes on stream mid-year. It will focus on adapting cocoa production systems to climate change and is funded by the Danish cooperation agency Danida.

A joint proposal for work on key pests of coffee and cocoa in Asia, Africa and Latin America, led by CIRAD, goes forward to the EU Horizon2020 program for consideration.

Research on impacts of trees on soil health, crop yield and food security is intensified in sub-Saharan Africa through a second phase of funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and strengthened by new collaborative arrangements with the three CGIAR Research Programs on rice, maize and wheat.

We will also include trees in the widely used Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) crop modelling framework that heralds new opportunities to predict impacts of integrating trees in fields and farming landscapes on food security.

Laura-Snook_601Management of forest and tree resources – new knowledge tools and practices

Laura Snook

The Flagship on Management of forest and tree resources has some very concrete projects on the table.

New knowledge, tools and practices for improved management and conservation of forest and tree resources (including bushmeat forest foods and timber) will be developed and evaluated.

We will document how community forestry in Guatemala can deliver sustainable production of timber, conservation of endangered tree species and income that lifts people out of poverty; and the potential for making timber production compatible with sustaining the availability of tree foods used by local people in Central Africa.

We will evaluate and promote options for increasing the participation of women in decision-making about forest management in India and for enhancing the environmental and social benefits from timber certification.

The genetic diversity of priority tree species and their traits will be analyzed and threat analysis used to develop plans for their conservation.

Model forest farms focused on indigenous nut and fruit trees in Central Asia will demonstrate how the diversity of trees can benefit people and the environment.

In addition, decision support tools for selecting well adapted planting material for restoration will be promoted with key actors in South America, to contribute to achieving the Bonn Challenge.

meine_0Landscape management for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods – outreach through events

Meine Van Noordwijk

The landscapes flagship of FTA looks forward to an active 2016. The nexus of sustainable development goals and follow up to national ‘restoration’ commitments are important platforms to work with those who may be helped by FTA science, while helping us define relevant new questions.

Our scientists will be active in the regional events for Asia and Africa of the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), with current calls for session proposals to be followed by abstracts for presentations soon:

With the international effort on Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) now in full steam, various workshops are convened to compile existing insights and knowledge on the way biodiversity and ecosystem services are affected by mainstream ‘development’, in search of alternatives that can be more widely supported by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

FTA scientists held a session on agroforestry in relation the SDG’s at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, followed by a session on the plans for the second phase of FTA.

C_MartiusForests and climate change – fresh push from Paris agreement

Christopher Martius

In 2016, FTA’s flagship on climate change research is getting full wind in its sails from the historic Paris Agreement which has placed the world on a path towards containing global warming below 2 or even 1.5°C.

Particularly the latter, more ambitious goal put forested landscapes at the center of climate change mitigation and adaptation, because it only seems reachable with a strong, immediate and concerted effort toward CO2 ‘removals’ which can only be achieved with massive afforestation and reforestation.

We will immediately start working on the framework conditions that would make reaching this objective possible.

We will furthermore build on our six years of comparative research on REDD+ to roll out policy research on mitigation and adaptation. With this we now first and foremost aim to support national efforts in key countries to address the Paris goals of keeping global warming below 2°C/1.5°C.

We will also develop learning from policies, bringing experiences from the national level back to the international arena and to negotiations at a later stage. So we are producing several key papers on experiences from REDD+ subnational initiatives, and analysis of multi-sectoral, multi-level governance challenges in implementing mitigation policies.

We will be close to finalizing our pilot research on a proof-of-concept for the independent monitoring of forest resources and how to respond to users’ needs by tailoring products according to these needs.

We expect sharply increasing demand for our ongoing REDD+ analysis; we will work to consolidate existing knowledge and information into policy-relevant information while adjusting our work program to match the new focus on national level emission reduction through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

We also intend to start new work on REDD+ in countries with a promising policy environment, such as in Ethiopia and Myanmar.

We will focus on results-based payments and we will be rolling out a pilot program on the delivery of a performance-based public finance mechanism.

FP4 will also further develop its Land-use Planning for Multiple Environmental Services (LUMENS) program, an innovative landscape-planning approach enhancing linkages between ecosystems, climate and green growth.

We will complete the Forestry Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) for Colombia, related to Colombia’s accreditation with the Green Climate Fund.

The Terra-I team (addressing forest monitoring that links FTA to Global Forest Watch) plans to develop remote sensing algorithms to identify degraded pastures that are candidates for forest restoration or commercial forestry plantations, thus addressing one of the important drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

Our conceptual work on synergies and trade-offs between climate change mitigation and adaptation will take off – our past work on this subject proved strategically forward­-looking as joint mitigation-adaptation has now become an approach supported by the Paris Agreement.

We will specifically explore national and subnational experiences and devise mechanisms for their improvement.

Climate-smart multifunctional landscapes is another theme to be explored further, one example being emissions and water use in tea production in the Mau Forest, a key watershed in Kenya, where we work with the private sector.

Anticipating phase 2 of FTA, where we will have a new focus on bioenergy and performance assessment, we are already stepping up pilot research on bioenergy, and we are starting to summarize lessons from our work on policy performance assessment in climate mitigation and adaptation. The latter is in direct support to the needs of efficient and effective assessment in the context of countries responding to the challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We expect to see a steeply rising demand for analysis and guidance in this field.

In terms of partnership, linking with national partners in ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins and the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) remains a priority. At the national level, our partnership-building efforts are aimed at intensifying our work in Colombia, Indonesia, Peru and Panama on REDD+, Low-emission Development Strategies (LEDS) and Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV), and we are developing new work in Asia on national carbon accounting and deforestation monitoring.

Our work on NAMAs in Colombia, on the Mau Forest in Kenya and other analysis is done in partnership with CCAFS. We also continue key partnerships with the Green Climate Fund, the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance, the Adaptation Board, and continue informing the international REDD+ community, e.g. at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Forestry Week and the Oslo REDD+ Exchange Conference.

Pablo-PachecoGlobal governance, trade and Investment – supporting the debate on SME development

Pablo Pacheco

The Flagship started this year with an active role at the Land Forum in Utrecht, Netherlands, in February, presenting our work on business models. We have recently initiated a project that looks at the different dimensions of these commitments, and their challenges in implementation. In this project, we ask questions about the opportunities to upgrade the production systems of independent smallholders depending on oil palm.

We are contributing to the debates on the challenges as well as the politics of private commitments implementation, and the way ahead.

The Flagship will put is attention on supporting debates about how to harness the market opportunities for the development of small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the timber sector in Central Africa. We will also continue assessing the domestic and intra-regional flows in the timber markets, and the formal and informal procedures for timber exports in the region.

We will contribute to debates, both in Indonesia and Cameroon, on options to improve policies in support to SMEs in the forestry sector.

In Indonesia, we will develop scenarios and policy options to remove barriers for SMEs to comply with legal certification.

In Cameroon, we will inform discussions regarding ways to improve benefits from domestic timber markets. This will engage both the national office of the federation of urban sellers and rural sellers and informal associations of chainsaw miller’s.

We will continue in our efforts in understanding the implications of corporate commitments to sustainability. This has a specific focus on zero deforestation in palm oil in Indonesia and on soy and beef in Brazil. Another aspect here are the opportunities of of business models that deliver greater social benefits for smallholders while reducing the negative impacts on the environment in Brazil, Mozambique and Indonesia.

We are organizing a panel at The World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty 2016, focused on the opportunities for shifting towards sustainable production systems for beef and palm oil, which will contribute to the discussion about new policy instruments for sustainable land use.

We will be engaging in discussions on sustainable commodity supply, and the implications for deforestation, at the General Assembly of the Tropical Forest Alliance, TFA 2020, and will be discussing the role of finance to trigger more sustainable land use and landscape management linked to improved value chain governance at the Global Landscapes Forum: The Investment Case.

kromaGender analysis and research – focus on capacity development and adaptive learning

Margaret Kroma

The priorities for the gender cross-cutting team in 2016 are largely oriented toward supporting ongoing strategic research projects that have been steadily increasing in the last three years, to ensure successful finalization.

The gender team will continue to prioritize capacity development and adaptive learning; planned activities include a knowledge to action workshop to bring together gender theory and gender research practice, the production of a guide on intersectional analysis for scientists, and strengthening the gender communities of practice in the CGIAR Research Programs, including partners.

At the same time, we continue to provide tailored support to flagships in strengthening gender dimensions in their thematic areas.

  • In Flagship 1, the team will focus on concluding work on gender and migration, examining its implications for forest governance and agroforestry smallholder communities.
  • Flagship 2 research on gender knowledge and management of trees and forests will focus on consolidating results to inform key bilateral projects and flagship outputs.
  • The multi-country study on gender perspectives on roles and land use preferences in flagship 3 will be finalized.
  • The gender team will continue to support the process of gender integration in REDD+ schemes in Flagship 4 and build collaborations with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
  • Flagship 5 will receive similar support, as it works to wrap up research on gender implications of cash crop expansion and value chain analysis.

anja_gassnerSentinel Landscapes – harnessing vast data sets

Anja Gassner

The Sentinel Landscapes research theme will put even more emphasis on harnessing its vast data sets and the ensuing scientific evidence. We will also take on a convening role in developing partnership platforms, which will make our data available to a wider community. This is in line with the new Strategic Results Framework (SRF) that highlights the importance of integrated datasets for understanding the feedback loops that drive the resilience of food systems and risk mitigation associated with the management of water and nutrients.

Through a series of interactive, regional workshops with key partners, we will jointly apply the analytical tools developed to interpret the data to generate policy-relevant evidence on the role of trees in rural people’s livelihoods, in terms of resilience and food security.

The workshops will not only facilitate the understanding of the methods, tools and approaches developed through sentinel landscapes research, but also support reciprocal learning between partners and FTA scientists and nurture the cooperation of the landscape partners.

Together with our partners at the landscapes and globally we will put emphasis on resource mobilization to ensure the continuity of the network in the next phase of research on forests, trees and agroforestry.

More information about the Sentinel Landscapes workshops will be available here 

Daniel_SMonitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment – evaluations in Malawi, Peru, Guinea

Daniel Suryadarma

In 2016, we will implement a number of evaluations in Malawi, Peru, Guinea on topics such as food security, timber harvests, and forest co-management. FTA researchers have been working on these issues for a number of years, and the time is right for the evaluations to document and measure the impacts of FTA on policies and practices in these areas.

In addition to the Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment (MEIA) studies mentioned above, the FTA Project Database, whose development started in 2014, continues to mature. This year, features such as outcome monitoring and gender relevance will be added to the database.

We are also working to ensure that the database fulfills interoperability requirements of the CGIAR, allowing data from all CRPs to be combined and analyzed.

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