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Researchers to gather at World Congress on Agroforestry


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A man works on a cocoa farm in Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR
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The 4th World Congress on Agroforestry (Agroforestry 2019) aims to strengthen the links between science, society and public policies. Under the high patronage of Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, the Congress is to be held at the Le Corum conference center in Montpellier on 20–22 May 2019. The Congress is a part of a Week of Agroforestry running from 19–23 May.

Open to researchers, students, farmers, NGOs, and political and economic decisionmakers, the Congress is expecting some 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries. FTA is a platinum partner for the event. It is being held in Europe for the first time, by the Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), in partnership with World Agroforestry, Agropolis International and Montpellier University of Excellence. It will be preceded on 19 May by a day of events for the general public, organized by the Fondation de France and the French Association of Agroforestry.

“We wanted, through this general public day ahead of the congress, to make agroforestry better known to civil society”, explained Emmanuel Torquebiau, Agroforestry Project Manager at CIRAD and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry.

Learn more: 4th World Congress on Agroforestry

Agroforestry, the future of agriculture?

The organizers aim to anchor the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry to the societal debate on agriculture. “It is time for technical solutions to be discussed within civil society and to become part of public policy”, commented Christian Dupraz, INRA Research Director and Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Congress.

By combining science and dialogue with society, the Congress will be an opportunity to assess the contribution of agroforestry to the agro-ecological transition of agriculture at the global level.

A farmer displays their coffee beans in Brazil. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

Agroforestry, which involves combining trees with crops and pastures, is now recognized to protect soils, address climate change issues and contribute to global food security. This practice could therefore be the future of agriculture. The fields of application are very diverse: hedges and alignment of trees or shrubs in and around plots, multilayer agriculture, timber or fruit production in cropland, fodder trees, trees for honey, shade trees for perennial crops (coffee, cocoa, grapevines) or livestock, multilayer agroforests and agroforestry gardens.

An International Union of Agroforestry will be created at the Congress, to federate agroforestry innovations on a global scale. On Thursday, 23 May, participants will be able to visit the main European experimental agroforestry site at Domaine de Restinclières in Prades-le-Lez (11 km north of Montpellier) where cereals (durum wheat and barley rotated with protein peas) are grown with many tree species, particularly walnut trees. In more stony soils, vines are grown with pines and cormiers. This 50-ha experimental farm, which belongs to Hérault County Council, is scientifically managed by INRA Occitanie-Montpellier.

Originally published by CIRAD.


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  • What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia

What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia


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A community member hold a tree product as part of the Kanoppi project in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR

Scientists in Indonesia are demonstrating how better business opportunities for local communities can help foster and reinforce sustainable forest management.

As the world marks International Day of Forests on March 21, the benefits of reforestation and forest restoration are rightly lauded. In success stories of the past, local communities have often been cast as the heroes of sustainable forestry, while private sector businesses have been portrayed as villains. But what if that’s not the whole story?

The Kanoppi project, which launched in 2013 and has now entered its second phase, concentrates on the expansion of market-based agroforestry and the development of integrated landscape management in the poorest provinces of eastern Indonesia and the country’s most densely-populated island of Java.

The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by scientists from the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Murdoch University in collaboration with other project partners.

Read also: New children’s book teaches the sustainable traditions of West Timorese honey hunters

Missing link

For many generations, communities living in Indonesia have relied on forests to supplement the food and income they reap from farming. Yet, despite the riches of the forests, poverty is still widespread. Some rural households living in the Kanoppi project’s pilot sites in eastern Indonesia earn around US$210 a year.

Part of the challenge is a lack of integration and linkages between community groups producing timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP) and the private sector. Conflicting, confusing and changeable public policies also do not help.

“For example, some communities will plant small teak plantations as a kind of savings account, but most don’t know how to get the permits required to harvest and transport the timber,” explained Ani Adiwinata Nawir, policy scientist with CIFOR. “This means that communities do not harvest as much teak as they could and that they can’t convert their timber into cash when needed.”

Strengthening value chains has become a key focus for Kanoppi, so that farmers can capture more value from their agroforestry production. This, however, requires sustained efforts at multiple levels, including promoting better practices on the ground to increase productivity and profitability, developing markets and private sector engagement, and facilitating supportive policies and institutions.

People work together in a paddy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Protecting the forest

One example of how to turn traditional community practices into a successful business venture comes from the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor. Here, communities come together every year to harvest wild forest honey. The task is dangerous – men scale trees of up to 80 meters to collect the honey by hand – but it is also sustainable because it does not require cutting down trees.

The honey supplements local diets, and there is enough left over to sell. In fact, as much as 30 tons of wild honey is produced and harvested in Mt. Mutis annually, accounting for 25 percent of total production in the province. Working collaboratively with WWF Indonesia – which is one of the project’s NGO partners along with others like Threads of Life – Kanoppi has helped brand and package the honey, which is now sold as “Mt. Mutis honey” and sold to neighboring islands.

Similarly on Sumbawa island, this commercial success is good news for communities and for the forest: Because the continued honey production hinges on a healthy ecosystem, people have a strong economic incentive to preserve and protect the forest.

That’s the underlying logic of the whole project. When communities can successfully market and sell sustainable products, their incentive to continue sustainable forestry practices grows, which in turn increases productivity, profitability and incomes.

“We want to reinforce this virtuous cycle where business opportunities foster sustainable forestry,” said Aulia Perdana, a marketing specialist with ICRAF. “That’s why we try to involve the private sector – for example in the village learning centers we’ve established in project sites – so that communities can better connect with the market.”

Other efforts to promote sustainable and profitable agroforestry production include using voluntary extensionists, meaning that the people who first adopt a new technology help spread those innovations to other members of the community. Eleven on-farm demonstration trials have already been established, and 40 more are planned for 2019. Kanoppi has also published manuals, journal articles, videos and a picture book to promote its methodology.

Read the picture book: Secrets of the Mutis Honey Hunters

Landscape perspective

Given the project’s success with marketing the sustainably produced honey from Mt. Mutis, the local district administration has adapted its strategy on integrated landscape-level management of NTFP to give greater weight to communities’ customary practices. This is an important first step toward establishing policy support elsewhere in the country.

Honeycomb drains through a nylon filter in Indonesia. Photo by S. Purnama Sarie/ICRAF

One challenge has been that past planning and policies have separately focused on different sectors, such as small farms in forestry and target-oriented cash crop production led by other sectors – not considering opportunities for synergies or problematic overlaps. Kanoppi has departed from that approach.

“We talk about integrated landscape management, which essentially is about harmonizing the different land uses along the watershed from upstream to downstream, so that farms, plantations, forests and many other kinds of activities coexist and reinforce each other,” said Ani.

“The landscape perspective helps everyone – communities, businesses and authorities – see what kind of production fits where in the landscape, in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.”

Kanoppi is a clear example of how combining the expertise and experience of CIFOR and ICRAF scientists makes for a strong response to development and sustainability challenges in forested landscapes – among the many reasons why the two institutions recently announced a merger.

In Indonesia, Ani, Perdana and their colleagues will continue their work to develop inclusive, sustainable business models that generate a fair return – specifically focusing on scaling-up the adoption of improved production practices and value chains to benefit smallholder livelihoods through landscape-scale management of the farm-forest interface – for communities and for forests.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This research is part of 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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What’s good for business is good for forests in Indonesia


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A community member holds a tree product as part of the Kanoppi project in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by A. Sanjaya/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Scientists in Indonesia are demonstrating how better business opportunities for local communities can help foster and reinforce sustainable forest management.

As the world marks International Day of Forests on March 21, the benefits of reforestation and forest restoration are rightly lauded. In success stories of the past, local communities have often been cast as the heroes of sustainable forestry, while private sector businesses have been portrayed as villains. But what if that’s not the whole story?

The Kanoppi project, which launched in 2013 and has now entered its second phase, concentrates on the expansion of market-based agroforestry and the development of integrated landscape management in the poorest provinces of eastern Indonesia and the country’s most densely-populated island of Java.

The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by scientists from the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Murdoch University in collaboration with other project partners.

Read also: New children’s book teaches the sustainable traditions of West Timorese honey hunters

Missing link

For many generations, communities living in Indonesia have relied on forests to supplement the food and income they reap from farming. Yet, despite the riches of the forests, poverty is still widespread. Some rural households living in the Kanoppi project’s pilot sites in eastern Indonesia earn around US$210 a year.

Part of the challenge is a lack of integration and linkages between community groups producing timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP) and the private sector. Conflicting, confusing and changeable public policies also do not help.

“For example, some communities will plant small teak plantations as a kind of savings account, but most don’t know how to get the permits required to harvest and transport the timber,” explained Ani Adiwinata Nawir, policy scientist with CIFOR. “This means that communities do not harvest as much teak as they could and that they can’t convert their timber into cash when needed.”

Strengthening value chains has become a key focus for Kanoppi, so that farmers can capture more value from their agroforestry production. This, however, requires sustained efforts at multiple levels, including promoting better practices on the ground to increase productivity and profitability, developing markets and private sector engagement, and facilitating supportive policies and institutions.

People work together in a paddy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Protecting the forest

One example of how to turn traditional community practices into a successful business venture comes from the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor. Here, communities come together every year to harvest wild forest honey. The task is dangerous – men scale trees of up to 80 meters to collect the honey by hand – but it is also sustainable because it does not require cutting down trees.

The honey supplements local diets, and there is enough left over to sell. In fact, as much as 30 tons of wild honey is produced and harvested in Mt. Mutis annually, accounting for 25 percent of total production in the province. Working collaboratively with WWF Indonesia – which is one of the project’s NGO partners along with others like Threads of Life – Kanoppi has helped brand and package the honey, which is now sold as “Mt. Mutis honey” and sold to neighboring islands.

Similarly on Sumbawa island, this commercial success is good news for communities and for the forest: Because the continued honey production hinges on a healthy ecosystem, people have a strong economic incentive to preserve and protect the forest.

That’s the underlying logic of the whole project. When communities can successfully market and sell sustainable products, their incentive to continue sustainable forestry practices grows, which in turn increases productivity, profitability and incomes.

“We want to reinforce this virtuous cycle where business opportunities foster sustainable forestry,” said Aulia Perdana, a marketing specialist with ICRAF. “That’s why we try to involve the private sector – for example in the village learning centers we’ve established in project sites – so that communities can better connect with the market.”

Other efforts to promote sustainable and profitable agroforestry production include using voluntary extensionists, meaning that the people who first adopt a new technology help spread those innovations to other members of the community. Eleven on-farm demonstration trials have already been established, and 40 more are planned for 2019. Kanoppi has also published manuals, journal articles, videos and a picture book to promote its methodology.

Read the picture book: Secrets of the Mutis Honey Hunters

Landscape perspective

Given the project’s success with marketing the sustainably produced honey from Mt. Mutis, the local district administration has adapted its strategy on integrated landscape-level management of NTFP to give greater weight to communities’ customary practices. This is an important first step toward establishing policy support elsewhere in the country.

Honeycomb drains through a nylon filter in Indonesia. Photo by S. Purnama Sarie/ICRAF

One challenge has been that past planning and policies have separately focused on different sectors, such as small farms in forestry and target-oriented cash crop production led by other sectors – not considering opportunities for synergies or problematic overlaps. Kanoppi has departed from that approach.

“We talk about integrated landscape management, which essentially is about harmonizing the different land uses along the watershed from upstream to downstream, so that farms, plantations, forests and many other kinds of activities coexist and reinforce each other,” said Ani.

“The landscape perspective helps everyone – communities, businesses and authorities – see what kind of production fits where in the landscape, in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.”

Kanoppi is a clear example of how combining the expertise and experience of CIFOR and ICRAF scientists makes for a strong response to development and sustainability challenges in forested landscapes – among the many reasons why the two institutions recently announced a merger.

In Indonesia, Ani, Perdana and their colleagues will continue their work to develop inclusive, sustainable business models that generate a fair return – specifically focusing on scaling-up the adoption of improved production practices and value chains to benefit smallholder livelihoods through landscape-scale management of the farm-forest interface – for communities and for forests.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This research is part of 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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  • Trees nurture nutrition

Trees nurture nutrition


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Pepper fruit in Nigeria. Photo by World Agroforestry

World Agroforestry’s (ICRAF) Food Tree and Crop Portfolio helps with the selection of food-tree species along with complementary vegetable, pulse and staple crops.

Foods from farms with trees — also known as agroforestry — are dense with nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils complement, and diversify, diets based on staple foods like rice, wheat and maize. This range of foods increases the nutritional quality of local diets, mostly owing to their micronutrients — mineral and vitamins — but also macronutrients, such as protein and carbohydrates.

Furthermore, these nutritional benefits can be available year-round and during periods of drought thanks to trees’ deep and extensive roots. Their roots make trees more resilient. This quality also helps tree foods bridge the ‘hunger gap’ that can occur before harvests of annual crops.

To fully harness the benefits of trees, ICRAF has developed an approach called the Food Tree and Crop Portfolio. The portfolio helps with the selection of socioecologically suitable and nutritionally important food-tree species along with complementary vegetable, pulse and staple crops.

Read also: Can research be transformative? Challenging gender norms around trees and land restoration in West Africa

Agnes Gachuiri of World Agroforestry works with farmers to set priorities for food trees in Kenya. Photo by World Agroforestry

The portfolios are a combination of indigenous and exotic species that are site-specific. Several aspects are assessed in each portfolio, such as diversity of on-farm food production, and food composition and consumption; the harvest months of prioritised food-tree and crop species are mapped against periods of food insecurity; and nutrient gaps can be filled by matching foods with nutrient-content data.

The successful adoption of a food-tree portfolio depends on several enabling and constraining factors that determine what farmers decide to plant and how the produce will be used. Farmers typically have a wealth of knowledge about food-tree species. They often prioritize their cultivation and use according to gender and age-related needs, interests and constraints that can sometimes be neglected in research-in-development projects.

Accordingly, central to the portfolio concept and its adoption into landscapes is understanding farmers’ preferences. Through the Agro-biodiversity and Landscape Restoration for Food Security and Nutrition in East Africa project, which is funded by the European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, these have been carefully documented and used to inform portfolios in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

Particularly in the latter two countries, the project team has been able to better understand the availability of food trees as well as gendered and age-related priorities through the use of participatory-research methods.

A total of 57 food-tree species has been recorded: 47 in Uganda (including 58% exotic species) and 49 in Kenya (65% exotics). In both countries, knowledge of food-tree species differed by gender and age, with older women knowing the greatest number of species. In Uganda, the team found that older men preferred species used for timber and charcoal whereas women of all ages preferred species that were easily accessible and which played a role in providing children’s food. Both men and women valued food trees for their contribution to improved health and nutrition. But at all sites there was a preference for exotic species, such as mango (Mangifera indica), passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) and avocado (Persea americana).

Read also: Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

A diagram shows year-round fresh fruits. Courtesy of World Agroforestry

Younger women and men, in general, preferred species that were more marketable, although there were specific differences. Women in Kitui, Kenya, preferred species such as papaya (Carica papaya), chocolate berry (Vitex payos), guava (Psidium guajava) and tamarind (Tamarindus indica), which are sold in small quantities; men were not interested in them.

At both project sites in Kenya, women — especially older groups — preferred indigenous food trees more than men did, owing to their role in meeting household nutrition needs, especially as food for children, and for firewood and medicines. However, these species were reported to have poor markets.

The diversity of motivations and preferences are an indication of the complexities behind farmers’ decisions to plant certain trees and hint at the dynamic role played by intrahousehold decision-making in determining which preferences and needs are prioritized.

Previous studies in Kenya have shown that households often prioritized the sale of tree foods for income generation ahead of domestic consumption.  The income earned from the sales was often spent on food, mostly less nutritious foods such as starchy staples. However, farmers usually expressed a desire to consume more fruit and, as was also found by the project team, they would like to plant more food trees.

When asked about the constraints to do so, farmers typically referred to a lack of seedlings — especially improved varieties — prolonged droughts and scarcity of land. Some of these constraints were gendered as well, with more younger women mentioning a lack of knowledge about planting and management as well as cultural restrictions, such as only having access to land when married; whereas younger men indicated the challenges of pests, limited markets, and land scarcity and ownership.

The project has also captured information on patterns of food consumption and the potential for marketing priority tree foods and crops. This information will link to the findings from gender-responsive, priority-setting activities to further explore the interactions between decision-making dynamics, food choices and food-tree and crop cultivation across farming landscapes in the region.

Based on the evidence generated by gender-sensitive, participatory research, the project team is developing site-specific interventions informed by local knowledge, preferences, needs and constraints to optimize the benefits of cultivating a diversity of food trees and crops to meet seasonal food needs, and enhance the availability of more nutritious foods.

Related reading:

By Ana Maria Paez-Valencia, ICRAF social scientist.


Produced by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) as part of 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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  • SDG synergy between agriculture and forestry in the food, energy, water and income nexus: reinventing agroforestry?

SDG synergy between agriculture and forestry in the food, energy, water and income nexus: reinventing agroforestry?


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Among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) three broad groups coexist: first, articulating demand for further human resource appropriation, second, sustaining the resource base, and third, redistributing power and benefits. Agriculture and forestry jointly interact with all three. The SDG portfolio calls for integrated land use management. Technological alternatives shift the value of various types of land use (forests, trees and agricultural practices) as source of ‘ecosystem services’. At the interface of agriculture and forestry the 40-year old term agroforestry has described technologies (AF1) and an approach to multifunctional landscape management (AF2). A broadened Land Equivalence Ratio (LER) as performance metric indicates efficiency. Agroforestry also is an opportunity to transcend barriers between agriculture and forestry as separate policy domains (AF3). Synergy between policy domains can progress from recognized tradeoffs and accepted coexistence, via common implementation frames, to space for shared innovation. Further institutional space for integral ‘all-land-uses’ approaches is needed.


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  • The Tamale Declaration: a regreening plan for northern Ghana

The Tamale Declaration: a regreening plan for northern Ghana


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An international workshop has called for an integrated plan to regreen the region.

The climax of the international workshop held late November 2018 in Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s Northern Region, was when the nearly 60 participants issued an urgent call for a ‘comprehensive Regreening Plan’.

The Plan would see the integration of trees with crops and livestock across northern Ghana, which they say is needed to ‘restore landscapes and improve livelihoods’ in the three regions that comprise the country’s northern belt.

Their call was addressed to all key policy-makers in Ghana’s Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, including the Northern Development Authority, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, traditional authorities, and also the ministries of Land and Natural Resources, of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and of Food and Agriculture. The workshop called on these institutions to allocate budget and incentive systems to support the Regreening Plan.

The theme of regreening is a crucial one in Ghana, which is one of eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa involved in the ambitious Regreening Africa project, which is funded by the European Union. The aim is to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households and across 1 million hectares. In Ghana, Regreening Africa is targeting 40,000 households on 90,000 hectares of land to be restored by 2022.

As part of the Bonn Challenge, in 2015 Ghana also pledged to restore 2 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030, in addition to two previous land-restoration pledges by the Government: the Forestry Development Master Plan launched in 1996, which aimed to plant trees on 200,000 hectares of unproductive forest land and the savannah zone by 2020; and the National Forest Plantation Strategy, which aims to rehabilitate 235,000 hectares of forest plantations and enrich planting of 100,000 hectares of under-stocked forest reserves by 2040.

Fergus Sinclair, leader of Systems Science at World Agroforestry, who led one of the sessions at the workshop, said that, ‘With such ambitious targets to meet, this multi-stakeholder workshop in Tamale — Restoring Landscapes for Resilient Livelihoods in Northern Ghana — could not have come at a more opportune time.’

A broad range of perspectives and expertise
The participants came from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and from all over Ghana, representing a broad range of perspectives, backgrounds and professions: national and regional governments; donors; international and grassroots non-governmental organizations; farmers’ organizations; and one paramount chief.

Aftermath of a fire. Photo: World Agroforestry/Gloria Adeyiga

While there was consensus about the urgent need for land restoration, it was abundantly clear that there are still major challenges to be overcome: gender relations and imbalances in decision-making powers; the nature of land and tree tenure among different ethnic groups and in different regions; policy and legislative gaps in protecting and managing trees in the landscape and the environment as a whole; negative impacts of fires; indiscriminate cutting of trees (including for charcoal production); and clearing for agriculture and mining.

Paramount Chief Bong Naaba Baba Salifu Alemnyarun of the Bongo Traditional Area expressed his concern that the power of traditional authorities to protect the environment had been whittled away over the years.

“If we, the chiefs, had all the powers like our forefathers used to do, there wouldn’t be any destruction of the environment; nobody would cut a tree [without permission],” he said.

While acknowledging the role of chiefs in enforcing rules, there was also consensus that it is important to vest powers of managing trees with farmers and ensure that regulations do not stifle their ability to benefit so that there is an incentive for regreening.

It was noted that there were bylaws to protect trees and the environment but they were not enforced, prompting a call for lawmakers from the Attorney General’s office to attend future workshops to address these issues.

Shea tree in parkland. Photo: World Agroforestry/Emilie Smith Dumont

Analysis of the causes of land degradation revealed a lack of coordination, weak political will and poor funding, legislative and policy gaps, restrictive sociocultural norms, economic barriers, and a shortage of scientific evidence. Nevertheless, they expressed determination to overcome the challenges.

After the workshop, Gloria Adeyiga, a researcher with the Forestry Research Institute who is working with the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) in Ghana, said she felt optimistic about the prospects for regreening the northern region.

“The workshop highlighted some concerns I’ve always had about issues around regreening,” Adeyiga said. “But I learned that others share these concerns and that we can address them for more sustainable interventions and long-term impact.”

“The future of land restoration and improving livelihoods lies in building evidence through participatory research,” said World Agroforestry’s Emilie Smith Dumont. She has coordinated WAFFI in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso and is the focal point for Regreening Africa in the region.

One session presented land-restoration projects on a map of northern Ghana, revealing many separate projects with similar goals. This highlighted the need for better communication and coordination.

Patrice Savadogo, who is taking over Smith Dumont’s role next year, emphasized that restoration, ‘also depends on increasing coordination between efforts to address common bottlenecks in activities to increase tree cover. Recognizing this, as we did together at the workshop, is the first step in overcoming them.’

Aaron B. Aduna, chief basin officer for the White Volta River with the Water Resources Commission, said the workshop was excellent in its diversity of participants and in how it generated discussion.

“Looking at the calibre of people gathered here,” said Aduna, “I am optimistic that a lot will be achieved in the regreening of Ghana.”

Aduna added that it is time that people paid attention to the importance of regreening and to trees in the landscape because, he said, “If there is no forest, there is no water.”

For more information, please contact Patrice Savadogo: p.savadogo@cgiar.org

The workshop was a collaboration between Regreening Africa and the West Africa Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI). WAFFI is led by CIFOR in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Regreening Africa is a five-year project that seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services. Partners in Regreening Africa and WAFFI include Catholic Relief Services, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), European Union, Economics of Land Degradation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability, Tree Aid, World Agroforestry, and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


By Joan Baxter, originally published by The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).


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  • Top of the tree: FTA in 2018

Top of the tree: FTA in 2018


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A variety of mango grows on a farm in Machakos County, Kenya. Photo by ICRAF
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The year 2018 saw the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) chalk up some notable achievements in the worlds of sustainable development, food security and addressing climate change.

A variety of mango grows on a farm in Machakos County, Kenya. Photo by ICRAF

A number of the program’s research findings reverberated throughout the scientific community, impacting discussions at major events and informing work on the ground.

Read on to find out which news articles, research publications, presentations and videos were most-viewed on the FTA website throughout the year.

Gender, agroforestry and combating deforestation were strong points of interest among news articles, topped off by research on orphan crops – underutilized crops that are being brought out of the shadows by plant breeding – which was also covered by The Economist and the Financial Times. The 10 most-viewed news articles on the FTA website in 2018 are as follows.

  1. Orphan crops for improving diets
  2. The power of science to halt deforestation
  3. Climate change atlas presents suitability maps for agroforestry species in Central America
  4. Halting deforestation is ‘everyone’s fight’
  5. FTA’s research domain on livelihood systems receives strong rating
  6. Picks and spades can triple farmers’ yields in Kenyan drylands
  7. Good investments in agriculture and forestry can benefit smallholders and landscapes
  8. Innovation and excellence from chocolate producers
  9. Agroforestry offers pathways to sustainable landscape restoration
  10. Woman on a mission: Pushing for rights and a seat at the decision-making table
Findings have shed new light on the role of forests and trees in the climate debate. Photo by Eko Prianto/CIFOR

Research publications are of course not only viewed via the FTA website but also via the websites of partner institutions or scientific journals.

Of those collated on the FTA website, however, the top 10 most-viewed encompassed ecosystem services, value chains and climate, along with the relationship between trees and water – a popular topic that was the subject of a two-day symposium in 2017 and a follow-up discussion forum in 2018:

  1. Co-investment in ecosystem services: global lessons from payment and incentive schemes
  2. Analysis of gender research on forest, tree and agroforestry value chains in Latin America
  3. Decision support tools for forest landscape restoration: Current status and future outlook
  4. Certifying Environmental Social Responsibility: Special Issue
  5. Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates: an atlas
  6. Landscape Restoration in Kenya: Addressing gender equality
  7. Forest ecosystem services and the pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness
  8. Tropical forest-transition landscapes: a portfolio for studying people, tree crops and agro-ecological change in context
  9. Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot world
  10. Bridging molecular genetics and participatory research: how access and benefit-sharing stimulate interdisciplinary research for tropical biology and conservation
Strengthening women’s tenure and rights to forests and trees and their participation in decision making.

As always, FTA scientists presented their work to colleagues and to broader audiences at workshops and events around the world. The top 10 most-viewed presentations of those collected on the FTA website looked at governance, REDD+ and tenure.

  1. Comparing governance reforms to restore the forest commons in Nepal, China and Ethiopia
  2. A personal take on forest landscapes restoration in Africa
  3. Strengthening women’s tenure and rights to forests and trees and their participation in decision making
  4. Are there differences between men and women in REDD+ benefit sharing schemes?
  5. Conflict in collective land and forest formalization: a preliminary analysis
  6. Implications of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) for trans-boundary agricultural commodities, forests and smallholder farmers
  7. Reconciling policy and practice in the co-management of forests in indigenous territories
  8. Informing gender-responsive climate policy and action
  9. Assessing REDD+ readiness to maximize climate finance impact
  10. Forest policy reform to enhance smallholder participation in landscape restoration: The Peruvian case
Drone technology for science.

FTA’s partner institutions produced compelling video content in 2018, drawing in viewers interested in drones, nutrition, landscapes and more. The top 10 most-viewed videos posted on the FTA website are as follows.

  1. Agroforestry in landscape restoration for livelihoods, climate and ecosystem services
  2. Drone technology for science
  3. Daniel Murdiyarso talks about the interaction between land and oceans
  4. Expansion of oil palm plantations into forests appears to be changing local diets in Indonesia
  5. Lessons learned from REDD+: progress in 8 countries and the way forward
  6. Restoring landscapes, respecting rights
  7. Creating a movement on sustainable landscapes
  8. Developing and applying an approach for the sustainable management of landscapes
  9. Social inclusion, equity and rights in the context of restoration – lessons from the ground
  10. Integrated landscapes approaches: From theory to practice

Finally, a special mention goes to a well-received infographic from FTA’s gender team: Gender matters in forest landscape restoration.

As the program forges ahead into 2019, it expects to see a continued presence at high-level events and even wider dissemination of its work, in line with its innovative research projects ongoing around the world to further the contributions of forests, trees and agroforestry to sustainable development.


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  • Landscape characteristics of Rejoso Watershed: land cover dynamics, farming systems and community strategies

Landscape characteristics of Rejoso Watershed: land cover dynamics, farming systems and community strategies


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The Rejoso watershed provides vital livelihoods for the Pasuruan communities. Farming of annual and perennial crops, including agroforestry, timber plantations and livestock is the most dominant source of income. In the last decade, stone mining has gradually become an alternative source of income for the communities in the midstream area of the Rejoso Watershed. In the upper stream of Rejoso watershed, adjacent to Mount Bromo, the tourism becomes an alternative local revenue. Population growth and economic pressure are causing dramatic changes in the Rejoso Watershed. Dominant anthropocentric development activities have been gradually affecting the environment’s quality, especially the watershed’s function of maintaining good quality and quantity of water resources. The most common environmental issues related to water resources are floods, droughts, erosions, and landslides. An initiative that simultaneously conserves and strengthens the local economy and livelihoods is urgently needed. The ‘Rejoso Kita’ initiative was designed to achieve these aspirations. As an initial step towards the implementation of such an initiative, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is leading a scoping study as basis for the ‘Rejoso Kita’ strategy implemented by a consortium coordinated by Social Investment Indonesia Foundation, CK-Net and partners supported by the Danone Ecosystem.


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  • Gender equality and forest landscape restoration infobriefs

Gender equality and forest landscape restoration infobriefs


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Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) aims to achieve ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes. Evidence shows that addressing gender equality and women’s rights is critical for addressing this dual objective. Against this backdrop, CIFOR and a number of partners hosted a Global Landscapes Forum workshop on FLR and gender equality in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2017. The objective of the workshop was to identify and discuss experiences, opportunities and challenges to advancing gender-responsive FLR in East African countries, as well as to join together various stakeholders working at the interface of gender and FLR as a community of practice. This brief set is a tangible outcome of this collaboration, featuring a number of useful lessons and recommendations rooted in the experience and expertise of partners in civil society, multilateral organizations, research community and private sector – all working in different ways to enhance the gender-responsiveness of restoration efforts.

Brief 1: Enhancing effectiveness of forest landscape programs through gender-responsive actions

Brief 2: Role of capital in enhancing participation of women in commercial forestry: A case study of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) project in Uganda

Brief 3: The impacts of gender-conscious payment models on the status of women engaged in micro-forestry on the Kenyan coast

Brief 4: Mobilizing indigenous and local knowledge for successful restoration

Brief 5: Gender-responsive Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM): Engendering national forest landscape restoration assessments 

Brief 6: Enhancing Women’s Participation in Forestry Management Using Adaptive Collaborative Management: The Case of Mbazzi Farmers Association, Mpigi District Uganda

Brief 7: What women and men want: Considering gender for successful, sustainable land management programs: Lessons learned from the Nairobi Water Fund

Brief 8: Understanding landscape restoration options in Kenya: Risks and opportunities for advancing gender equality

Brief 9: Building farmer organisations’ capacity to collectively adopt agroforestry and sustainable agriculture land management practices in Lake Victoria Basin


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  • Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa

Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa


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There is a growing demand for cocoa. However, cultivation is dependent on ageing trees with low yields and increasing vulnerability to disease. There is growing concern about the environmental impact of cultivation in areas soil health and biodiversity. There is therefore an urgent need to make cocoa cultivation more efficient and sustainable to ensure a successful future. These challenges are addressed in Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa.

Part 1 reviews genetic resources and developments in breeding. Part 2 discusses optimising cultivation techniques to make the most of new varieties. Part 3 summaries the latest research on understanding and combatting the major fungal and viral diseases affecting cocoa. Part 4 covers safety and quality issues whilst the final part of the book looks at ways of improving sustainability, including the role of agroforestry, organic cultivation and ways of supporting smallholders. With its distinguished editor and international range of expert authors – including a number from CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) scientists – this collection will be a standard reference for cocoa scientists, growers and processors.

Part 1 Genetic resources and breeding

1. Taxonomy and classification of cacao: Ranjana Bhattacharjee, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria; and Malachy Akoroda, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Nigeria;
2. Conserving and exploiting cocoa genetic resources: the key challenges: Brigitte Laliberté, Bioversity International, Italy; Michelle End, INGENIC (The International Group for Genetic Improvement of Cocoa), UK; Nicholas Cryer, Mondelez International, UK; Andrew Daymond, University of Reading, UK; Jan Engels, Bioversity International, Italy; Albertus Bernardus Eskes, formerly CIRAD and Bioversity International, France; Martin Gilmour, Barry Callebaut, USA; Philippe Lachenaud, Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, France; Wilbert Phillips-Mora, Center for Tropical Agriculture Research and Education, Costa Rica; Chris Turnbull, Cocoa Research Association Ltd., UK; Pathmanathan Umaharan, Cocoa Research Centre, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago; Dapeng Zhang, USDA-ARS, USA; and Stephan Weise, Bioversity International, Italy;
3. The role of gene banks in preserving the genetic diversity of cacao: Lambert A. Motilal, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago;
4. Safe handling and movement of cocoa germplasm for breeding: Andrew Daymond, University of Reading, UK;
5. Developments in cacao breeding programmes in Africa and the Americas: Dário Ahnert, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Brazil; and Albertus Bernardus Eskes, formerly CIRAD and Bioversity International, France;

Part 2 Cultivation techniques

6. Cocoa plant propagation techniques to supply farmers with improved planting materials: Michelle End, INGENIC (The International Group for Genetic Improvement of Cocoa), UK; Brigitte Laliberté, Bioversity International, Italy; Rob Lockwood, Consultant, UK; Augusto Roberto Sena Gomes, Consultant, Brazil; George Andrade Sodré, CEPLAC/CEPEC, Brazil; and Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova, The Pennsylvania State University, USA;
7. The potential of somatic embryogenesis for commercial-scale propagation of elite cacao varieties: Siela N. Maximova and Mark J. Guiltinan, The Pennsylvania State University, USA;
8. Good agronomic practices in cocoa cultivation: rehabilitating cocoa farms: Richard Asare, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ghana; Victor Afari-Sefa, World Vegetable Center, Benin; Sander Muilerman, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; and Gilbert J. Anim-Kwapong, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, Ghana;
9. Improving soil and nutrient management for cacao cultivation: Didier Snoeck and Bernard Dubos, CIRAD, UR Systèmes de pérennes, France;

Part 3 Diseases and pests

10. Cocoa diseases: witches’ broom: Jorge Teodoro De Souza, Federal University of Lavras, Brazil; Fernando Pereira Monteiro, Federal University of Lavras and UNIVAG Centro Universitário, Brazil; Maria Alves Ferreira, Federal University of Lavras, Brazil; and Karina Peres Gramacho and Edna Dora Martins Newman Luz, Comissão Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira (CEPLAC), Brazil;
11. Frosty pod rot, caused by Moniliophthora roreri: Ulrike Krauss, Palm Integrated Services and Solutions (PISS) Ltd., Saint Lucia;
12. Cocoa diseases: vascular-streak dieback: David I. Guest, University of Sydney, Australia; and Philip J. Keane, LaTrobe University, Australia;
13. Insect pests affecting cacao: Leïla Bagny Beilhe, Régis Babin and Martijn ten Hoopen, CIRAD, France;
14. Nematode pests of cocoa: Samuel Orisajo, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Nigeria;
15. Advances in pest- and disease-resistant cocoa varieties: Christian Cilas and Olivier Sounigo, CIRAD, France; Bruno Efombagn and Salomon Nyassé, Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD), Cameroon; Mathias Tahi, CNRA, Côte d’Ivoire; and Sarah M. Bharath, Meridian Cacao, USA;

Part 4 Safety and sensory quality

16. Improving best practice with regard to pesticide use in cocoa: M. A. Rutherford, J. Crozier and J. Flood, CABI, UK; and S. Sastroutomo, CABI-SEA, Malaysia
17. Mycotoxins in cocoa: causes, detection and control: Mary A. Egbuta, Southern Cross University, Australia;
18. Analysing sensory and processing quality of cocoa: Darin A. Sukha and Naailah A. Ali, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago;

Part 5 Sustainability

19. Climate change and cocoa cultivation: Christian Bunn, Fabio Castro and Mark Lundy, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia; and Peter Läderach, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Vietnam;
20. Analysis and design of the shade canopy of cocoa-based agroforestry systems:Eduardo Somarriba, CATIE, Costa Rica; Luis Orozco-Aguilar, University of Melbourne, Australia; Rolando Cerda, CATIE, Costa Rica; and Arlene López-Sampson, James Cook University, Australia;
21. Organic cocoa cultivation: Amanda Berlan, De Montfort University, UK;
22. Cocoa sustainability initiatives: the impacts of cocoa sustainability initiatives in West Africa: Verina Ingram, Yuca Waarts and Fedes van Rijn, Wageningen University, The Netherlands;
23. Supporting smallholders in achieving more sustainable cocoa cultivation: the case of West Africa: Paul Macek, World Cocoa Foundation, USA; Upoma Husain and Krystal Werner, Georgetown University, USA.

This book is available for order from the publisher, Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing.


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  • Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection


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A display of giant pandas greets attendees at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

A new declaration is paving the way for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forest conservation. 

Bamboo and rattan are important – but critically overlooked – non-timber forest products. These plants have huge potential to restore degraded land, build earthquake-resilient housing, reduce deforestation, and provide jobs for millions of people in rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Despite this, bamboo and rattan are often regarded as ‘poor man’s timber’, and households, governments and businesses have yet to realize their full potential.

This image problem may be about to change. On 25-27 June, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) cohosted the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) in Beijing, China. At the Congress, 1,200 participants from almost 70 countries took part in discussions about the uses of bamboo and rattan in agroforestry, their ecosystem services, and their contribution to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inspiring innovation

Speakers included Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, and Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Both highlighted problems of forest governance, and the role that innovative bamboo and rattan uses can play in this regard. Indeed, innovation was a key theme of the event. Throughout the three-day Congress, entrepreneurs exhibited innovative products: from wind turbines and bicycles to heavy-duty drainage pipes and flat-pack housing made with bamboo. Fast-growing and quick to mature, with the properties of hardwood, bamboo can provide an important low-carbon replacement for cement, plastics, steel and timber.

An equally important point, raised in many discussions, was NTFPs’ potential to create incomes for the rural poor. Throughout BARC, participants heard from speakers who had created businesses with bamboo: from Bernice Dapaah, who has founded an internationally recognized bamboo bicycle company in Ghana, to entrepreneurs from countries in Southeast Asia, where many communities rely on rattan for up to 50% of their cash income. According to INBAR Director General Hans Friederich, the bamboo and rattan sector employs almost 10 million people in China alone, proving that there are many possibilities for these plants to contribute to FTA’s core research themes.

Read also: Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

A bamboo bicycle is pictured on the first day of the Congress. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

Storing carbon 

The potential for bamboo to complement forests’ role as carbon sinks was much discussed. A new report, launched at BARC, shows how certain species of bamboos’ fast rate of carbon storage makes them a very competitive tool for carbon sequestration. In an important announcement in plenary, Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director-General of NFGA, suggested that bamboo could become part of offset projects in China’s new emissions trading scheme – a statement with huge potential for bamboo management.

And in a striking statement of support for bamboo’s use as a carbon sink, Dr. Li Nuyun, Executive Vice-President of the China Green Carbon Fund, stated that her organization would help establish a bamboo plantation in Yunnan province, China. Over time, the plantation will aim to sequester the estimated 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted over the course of the Congress – making BARC a ‘zero-carbon’ event.

Protecting biodiversity

Biodiversity management was the theme of a number of sessions. In a session on the Giant Panda, speakers from Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society in China, and the World Wildlife Fund committed their support toward a potential planning workshop in early 2019. The workshop would discuss how to take a holistic approach to biodiversity protection, which integrates bamboo management, panda protection and natural heritage conservation.

Read also: Study examines bamboo value chains to support industry growth

Offering ‘win-wins’

As many of the discussions showed, bamboo and rattan are often used because they offer more than one solution. Bamboo charcoal is such a case. As a clean-burning, locally growing source of energy, bamboo charcoal can significantly reduce stress on slower-growing forest resources. However, it can also form an important revenue source for individuals, particularly women.

Dancille Mukakamari, the Rwanda National Coordinator for the Africa Women’s Network for Sustainable Development, described how “charcoal is crucial for women in Africa”. And Gloria Adu, a successful Ghana-based entrepreneur who has been making bamboo charcoal for several decades, emphasized its huge potential for deforestation prevention, mentioning that almost three-quarters of Ghanaian forest loss came through charcoal production.

The road from BARC

Flags represent the countries in attendance at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

If bamboo and rattan are so important, then why are they not more widely used? A lack of awareness is one factor. According to many of the private sector representatives at BARC, the absence of clear customs codes for bamboo and rattan, or specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of products, has prevented their uptake.

Ignorance is only part of the problem, however. Although people are increasingly aware about bamboo and rattan’s properties, more needs to be done to share technologies and innovative uses. Speaking in plenary, entrepreneur and author of The Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli, said it best: “The science is already there. We don’t have to convince people about bamboo, we have to inspire them – and bamboo is an inspiring product.”

The Congress made an important step forward in this need to ‘inspire’ change. On the first day, INBAR and the International Fund for Agriculture announced the launch of a new project, which plans to share Chinese bamboo industry expertise and technologies with four countries in Africa. The initiative aims to benefit 30,000 rural smallholder farmers and community members across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, who will be taught about how to plant, manage and create value-added products using bamboo.

BARC also saw an outpouring of political support for bamboo and rattan. A number of heads of state and development organization leaders provided video messages in support of bamboo and rattan. And in a plenary session, John Hardy, the TED talk speaker and founder of the Bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia, offered to offset his lifetime carbon emissions using bamboo, in a demonstration of the plant’s carbon storage potential.

Read also: Mapping bamboo forest resources in East Africa

The Beijing Declaration

With three plenary events, 75 side sessions and a lot of inspiration, BARC showed that there is clearly growing interest in bamboo and rattan for forest management. Announced on the third and final day of the Congress, the Beijing Declaration aimed to put all these commitments into action. Written on behalf of “ministers, senior officials, and participants”, the Declaration lays out bamboo and rattan’s contributions as “a critical part of forests and ecosystems”, and calls upon governments to support the plants’ development in forestry and related initiatives.

According to INBAR’s Friederich, “The Beijing Declaration stands to make a real difference in the way bamboo and rattan are included in forest practices. Far from being poor man’s timber, this Congress has shown that bamboo and rattan are truly green gold. Now we need to focus on the road from BARC – how to make these plants a vital part of the way we manage forests, and the environment.”

Given their relevance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, their role in supporting sustainable forest conservation and their importance to smallholder livelihoods, bamboo and rattan are key NFTPs for the realization of FTA’s core aims. As the Congress showed, the key challenge now is to integrate these plants into forest management, and promote their central role in sustainable development.

By Charlotte King, INBAR international communications specialist. 


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  • Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection


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A display of giant pandas greets attendees at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

A new declaration is paving the way for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forest conservation. 

Bamboo and rattan are important – but critically overlooked – non-timber forest products. These plants have huge potential to restore degraded land, build earthquake-resilient housing, reduce deforestation, and provide jobs for millions of people in rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Despite this, bamboo and rattan are often regarded as ‘poor man’s timber’, and households, governments and businesses have yet to realize their full potential.

This image problem may be about to change. On 25-27 June, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) partner institution the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) cohosted the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress (BARC) in Beijing, China. At the Congress, 1,200 participants from almost 70 countries took part in discussions about the uses of bamboo and rattan in agroforestry, their ecosystem services, and their contribution to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inspiring innovation

Speakers included Vincent Gitz, Director of FTA, and Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Both highlighted problems of forest governance, and the role that innovative bamboo and rattan uses can play in this regard. Indeed, innovation was a key theme of the event. Throughout the three-day Congress, entrepreneurs exhibited innovative products: from wind turbines and bicycles to heavy-duty drainage pipes and flat-pack housing made with bamboo. Fast-growing and quick to mature, with the properties of hardwood, bamboo can provide an important low-carbon replacement for cement, plastics, steel and timber.

An equally important point, raised in many discussions, was NTFPs’ potential to create incomes for the rural poor. Throughout BARC, participants heard from speakers who had created businesses with bamboo: from Bernice Dapaah, who has founded an internationally recognized bamboo bicycle company in Ghana, to entrepreneurs from countries in Southeast Asia, where many communities rely on rattan for up to 50% of their cash income. According to INBAR Director General Hans Friederich, the bamboo and rattan sector employs almost 10 million people in China alone, proving that there are many possibilities for these plants to contribute to FTA’s core research themes.

Read also: Realizing bamboo and rattan’s full potential: An interview with INBAR Director General Hans Friederich

A bamboo bicycle is pictured on the first day of the Congress. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

Storing carbon 

The potential for bamboo to complement forests’ role as carbon sinks was much discussed. A new report, launched at BARC, shows how certain species of bamboos’ fast rate of carbon storage makes them a very competitive tool for carbon sequestration. In an important announcement in plenary, Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director-General of NFGA, suggested that bamboo could become part of offset projects in China’s new emissions trading scheme – a statement with huge potential for bamboo management.

And in a striking statement of support for bamboo’s use as a carbon sink, Dr. Li Nuyun, Executive Vice-President of the China Green Carbon Fund, stated that her organization would help establish a bamboo plantation in Yunnan province, China. Over time, the plantation will aim to sequester the estimated 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted over the course of the Congress – making BARC a ‘zero-carbon’ event.

Protecting biodiversity

Biodiversity management was the theme of a number of sessions. In a session on the Giant Panda, speakers from Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society in China, and the World Wildlife Fund committed their support toward a potential planning workshop in early 2019. The workshop would discuss how to take a holistic approach to biodiversity protection, which integrates bamboo management, panda protection and natural heritage conservation.

Read also: Study examines bamboo value chains to support industry growth

Offering ‘win-wins’

As many of the discussions showed, bamboo and rattan are often used because they offer more than one solution. Bamboo charcoal is such a case. As a clean-burning, locally growing source of energy, bamboo charcoal can significantly reduce stress on slower-growing forest resources. However, it can also form an important revenue source for individuals, particularly women.

Dancille Mukakamari, the Rwanda National Coordinator for the Africa Women’s Network for Sustainable Development, described how “charcoal is crucial for women in Africa”. And Gloria Adu, a successful Ghana-based entrepreneur who has been making bamboo charcoal for several decades, emphasized its huge potential for deforestation prevention, mentioning that almost three-quarters of Ghanaian forest loss came through charcoal production.

The road from BARC

Flags represent the countries in attendance at BARC 2018. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

If bamboo and rattan are so important, then why are they not more widely used? A lack of awareness is one factor. According to many of the private sector representatives at BARC, the absence of clear customs codes for bamboo and rattan, or specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of products, has prevented their uptake.

Ignorance is only part of the problem, however. Although people are increasingly aware about bamboo and rattan’s properties, more needs to be done to share technologies and innovative uses. Speaking in plenary, entrepreneur and author of The Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli, said it best: “The science is already there. We don’t have to convince people about bamboo, we have to inspire them – and bamboo is an inspiring product.”

The Congress made an important step forward in this need to ‘inspire’ change. On the first day, INBAR and the International Fund for Agriculture announced the launch of a new project, which plans to share Chinese bamboo industry expertise and technologies with four countries in Africa. The initiative aims to benefit 30,000 rural smallholder farmers and community members across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Madagascar, who will be taught about how to plant, manage and create value-added products using bamboo.

BARC also saw an outpouring of political support for bamboo and rattan. A number of heads of state and development organization leaders provided video messages in support of bamboo and rattan. And in a plenary session, John Hardy, the TED talk speaker and founder of the Bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia, offered to offset his lifetime carbon emissions using bamboo, in a demonstration of the plant’s carbon storage potential.

Read also: Mapping bamboo forest resources in East Africa

The Beijing Declaration

With three plenary events, 75 side sessions and a lot of inspiration, BARC showed that there is clearly growing interest in bamboo and rattan for forest management. Announced on the third and final day of the Congress, the Beijing Declaration aimed to put all these commitments into action. Written on behalf of “ministers, senior officials, and participants”, the Declaration lays out bamboo and rattan’s contributions as “a critical part of forests and ecosystems”, and calls upon governments to support the plants’ development in forestry and related initiatives.

According to INBAR’s Friederich, “The Beijing Declaration stands to make a real difference in the way bamboo and rattan are included in forest practices. Far from being poor man’s timber, this Congress has shown that bamboo and rattan are truly green gold. Now we need to focus on the road from BARC – how to make these plants a vital part of the way we manage forests, and the environment.”

Given their relevance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, their role in supporting sustainable forest conservation and their importance to smallholder livelihoods, bamboo and rattan are key NFTPs for the realization of FTA’s core aims. As the Congress showed, the key challenge now is to integrate these plants into forest management, and promote their central role in sustainable development.

By Charlotte King, INBAR international communications specialist. 


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  • Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests

Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests


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A woman holds a cacao bean, which can be processed into butter and cream. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Cocoa is the primary source of income in southern Cameroon, where it represents 48% of total agricultural land use. In this and other tropical regions, the way cocoa agroforests are managed matters immensely to livelihoods, and also to the climate.

Cocoa agroforests vary widely in terms of tree composition and structure, but, until recently, few studies had been conducted to understand how these differences impact carbon stocks.

Meanwhile, irresponsible land management practices were not only seeing cocoa plantations fail to contribute to countries’ emissions reductions goals, but also cause massive forest degradation in countries such as the Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana, which are alone responsible for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa production.

This ‘cocoa belt’ had been becoming increasingly prone to deforestation and drought, and cocoa landscapes in other high-producing countries in Asia and Latin America had been following suit.

But when chocolate companies began making deforestation-related commitments at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, the tide began to change on the industry’s standards and practices. It also then became imperative for scientists to generate knowledge to help the expected changes transform cocoa forest landscapes in the most beneficial ways.

In response, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) institution the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and other partner organizations profiled the carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests in three southern Cameroonian ecological areas (Yaoundé, Mbalmayo and Ebolowa) and identified what types of plants and management systems boost carbon storage best.

“This knowledge is important to implement nationally determined contributions [NDCs] to the global climate agenda and its measures to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation [REDD+] by promoting sustainable cocoa value chains,” says lead author and CIFOR senior scientist Denis Sonwa.

Since COP21, the world’s largest chocolate companies – Mars, Nestle and Ferrero to name a few – have come together in a variety of agreements, from an agreement signed by the Prince of Wales to a sectorial “Frameworks for Action” at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The goal is to see the industry achieve net-zero deforestation and improve local livelihoods, and this research is a crucial step along the way.

Read also: Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire

COCOA’S COMRADES

The researchers aimed to answer a string of questions including how carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests varied across ecological zones and management methods, and how carbon storage compared between different types of plants associated with cocoa – and the stocks of some key species, in particular.

“What we found is that agroforests with a high density of high-economic value industrial timber and non-timber forest products stored two to three times the amount captured by other management systems,” explains Sonwa.

A dish of cacao beans awaits processing in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Plantations with a high density of banana plants and oil palm trees came next, and those with cocoa tree densities of 70% or higher came in last. Specifically, the above-ground parts of plants in these varied types of cocoa agroforests stored 147 Mg of carbon per hectare, 49 Mg and 39 Mg, respectively.

Researchers also found that above-ground parts of the other plants accounted for 70% of the carbon storage, while cocoa trees accounted for only 5%.

Across all three ecological zones, high-value timber accounts for 29.7% of the total carbon stored above ground, at 49.9 Mg per hectare; edible species for 15%; and medicinal plants for 6%.

Read also: Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?

RICH PICKINGS

Another conclusion of the study is that “the top ten species generally stored more than 50% of carbon held by associated plants,” with Terminalia superba – a tall deciduous tree native to the African tropics – among the species with a higher storage (14 Mg per hectare).

These results “suggest that associated plants not only contribute to shade, but also increase the capacity of farms to store carbon,” notes the study. And the benefits of such plants go well beyond that. Indeed, the higher ecocapacity of cocoa agroforests lead to increases in plant litter fall, soil litter and rainfall, thus upgrading both the agronomic and environmental potential of the landscape. Meanwhile, a plantation solely growing cocoa does threaten overall agro-ecological sustainability.

Sonwa points out that non-cocoa plants provide a structure similar to that of forests, and that their products and services appear as cobenefits of cocoa agroforestry in addition to carbon storage. Timber, non-wood forest products such as fruit, and medicinal plants may all contribute to local livelihoods and to biodiversity conservation.

“Simultaneously obtaining several products and services from the same plantation increases the resilience of farmers,” he says. “That is particularly important as the pressure on natural resources increases.”

Read also: Greater inclusion of women is needed to optimally intensify cocoa value chains, researchers find

BEYOND THE BEANS

In the last few decades, the main goal of cocoa agroforests was to produce cocoa beans, but demographic growth, climate change and loss of forests are changing this approach.

For the researchers, the multiple functions of cocoa agroforests should be at the center of efforts to fight global warming and achieve better outcomes for people and the planet. “This is why our findings are useful to scientists, and also to decision-makers, farmers and the private sector,” says Sonwa.

The findings of the paper can, for example, be useful to certification schemes that want to improve the environmental footprint of the cocoa sector. They also offer key insights to cocoa agroforest managers, particularly given the current context where zero deforestation targets are at the center of many company agendas.

In Sub-Saharan Africa where most of the world’s cocoa originates, the paper is certainly useful in structuring efforts to free the cocoa value chain from deforestation. But going beyond that, in central Africa and the Congo Basin, it sheds light by offering productive agroforestry options that conserve remaining natural forests while providing livelihoods.

“We have examined cocoa agroforests from an ecological perspective, so the next step would be to look at economic and production aspects,” says Sonwa. “For example, does storing more carbon in associated plants affect cocoa production — and how?”

The findings make clear that sustainable cocoa agroforest management in Sub-Saharan African forest landscapes can reconcile cocoa bean production with climate change responses, and big global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But, it also makes clear how much there is left to learn about chocolate.

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Denis Sonwa at d.sonwa@cgiar.org.


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).


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  • Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests

Optimizing carbon stocks of cocoa landscapes can help conserve Africa’s forests


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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman holds a cacao bean, which can be processed into butter and cream. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Cocoa is the primary source of income in southern Cameroon, where it represents 48% of total agricultural land use. In this and other tropical regions, the way cocoa agroforests are managed matters immensely to livelihoods, and also to the climate.

Cocoa agroforests vary widely in terms of tree composition and structure, but, until recently, few studies had been conducted to understand how these differences impact carbon stocks.

Meanwhile, irresponsible land management practices were not only seeing cocoa plantations fail to contribute to countries’ emissions reductions goals, but also cause massive forest degradation in countries such as the Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana, which are alone responsible for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa production.

This ‘cocoa belt’ had been becoming increasingly prone to deforestation and drought, and cocoa landscapes in other high-producing countries in Asia and Latin America had been following suit.

But when chocolate companies began making deforestation-related commitments at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, the tide began to change on the industry’s standards and practices. It also then became imperative for scientists to generate knowledge to help the expected changes transform cocoa forest landscapes in the most beneficial ways.

In response, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) institution the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and other partner organizations profiled the carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests in three southern Cameroonian ecological areas (Yaoundé, Mbalmayo and Ebolowa) and identified what types of plants and management systems boost carbon storage best.

“This knowledge is important to implement nationally determined contributions [NDCs] to the global climate agenda and its measures to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation [REDD+] by promoting sustainable cocoa value chains,” says lead author and CIFOR senior scientist Denis Sonwa.

Since COP21, the world’s largest chocolate companies – Mars, Nestle and Ferrero to name a few – have come together in a variety of agreements, from an agreement signed by the Prince of Wales to a sectorial “Frameworks for Action” at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The goal is to see the industry achieve net-zero deforestation and improve local livelihoods, and this research is a crucial step along the way.

Read also: Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire

COCOA’S COMRADES

The researchers aimed to answer a string of questions including how carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests varied across ecological zones and management methods, and how carbon storage compared between different types of plants associated with cocoa – and the stocks of some key species, in particular.

“What we found is that agroforests with a high density of high-economic value industrial timber and non-timber forest products stored two to three times the amount captured by other management systems,” explains Sonwa.

A dish of cacao beans awaits processing in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

Plantations with a high density of banana plants and oil palm trees came next, and those with cocoa tree densities of 70% or higher came in last. Specifically, the above-ground parts of plants in these varied types of cocoa agroforests stored 147 Mg of carbon per hectare, 49 Mg and 39 Mg, respectively.

Researchers also found that above-ground parts of the other plants accounted for 70% of the carbon storage, while cocoa trees accounted for only 5%.

Across all three ecological zones, high-value timber accounts for 29.7% of the total carbon stored above ground, at 49.9 Mg per hectare; edible species for 15%; and medicinal plants for 6%.

Read also: Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?

RICH PICKINGS

Another conclusion of the study is that “the top ten species generally stored more than 50% of carbon held by associated plants,” with Terminalia superba – a tall deciduous tree native to the African tropics – among the species with a higher storage (14 Mg per hectare).

These results “suggest that associated plants not only contribute to shade, but also increase the capacity of farms to store carbon,” notes the study. And the benefits of such plants go well beyond that. Indeed, the higher ecocapacity of cocoa agroforests lead to increases in plant litter fall, soil litter and rainfall, thus upgrading both the agronomic and environmental potential of the landscape. Meanwhile, a plantation solely growing cocoa does threaten overall agro-ecological sustainability.

Sonwa points out that non-cocoa plants provide a structure similar to that of forests, and that their products and services appear as cobenefits of cocoa agroforestry in addition to carbon storage. Timber, non-wood forest products such as fruit, and medicinal plants may all contribute to local livelihoods and to biodiversity conservation.

“Simultaneously obtaining several products and services from the same plantation increases the resilience of farmers,” he says. “That is particularly important as the pressure on natural resources increases.”

Read also: Greater inclusion of women is needed to optimally intensify cocoa value chains, researchers find

BEYOND THE BEANS

In the last few decades, the main goal of cocoa agroforests was to produce cocoa beans, but demographic growth, climate change and loss of forests are changing this approach.

For the researchers, the multiple functions of cocoa agroforests should be at the center of efforts to fight global warming and achieve better outcomes for people and the planet. “This is why our findings are useful to scientists, and also to decision-makers, farmers and the private sector,” says Sonwa.

The findings of the paper can, for example, be useful to certification schemes that want to improve the environmental footprint of the cocoa sector. They also offer key insights to cocoa agroforest managers, particularly given the current context where zero deforestation targets are at the center of many company agendas.

In Sub-Saharan Africa where most of the world’s cocoa originates, the paper is certainly useful in structuring efforts to free the cocoa value chain from deforestation. But going beyond that, in central Africa and the Congo Basin, it sheds light by offering productive agroforestry options that conserve remaining natural forests while providing livelihoods.

“We have examined cocoa agroforests from an ecological perspective, so the next step would be to look at economic and production aspects,” says Sonwa. “For example, does storing more carbon in associated plants affect cocoa production — and how?”

The findings make clear that sustainable cocoa agroforest management in Sub-Saharan African forest landscapes can reconcile cocoa bean production with climate change responses, and big global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But, it also makes clear how much there is left to learn about chocolate.

By Gloria Pallares, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Denis Sonwa at d.sonwa@cgiar.org.


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).


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  • Profiling Carbon Storage/Stocks of Cocoa Agroforests in the Forest Landscape of Southern Cameroon

Profiling Carbon Storage/Stocks of Cocoa Agroforests in the Forest Landscape of Southern Cameroon


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Despite evidence that cocoa agroforests are composed of different types of associated plants leading to varieties of structures, few studies have been done to assess the implications of these variations on carbon stocks. The current studies profile the carbon storage of cocoa agroforests in Southern Cameroon by: (1) evaluating the carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests in different ecological zones (Yaoundé, Mbalmayo, and Ebolowa), (2) evaluating the carbon stocks of cocoa agroforests under different management methods, (3) evaluating the contribution of some plant species to carbon sequestration inside cocoa agroforests, and (4) identifying the carbon stocks of some important species. Inside the cocoa agroforests of Southern Cameroon, associated plants store around 70% of the carbon. Cocoa agroforests with timber and NWFP (Non-Wood Forest Products) store more than twice what is found in systems rich with Musa and oil palm. In these systems, timber and NWFP store more than 2.5 times what is found in cocoa systems with high densities of cocoa, and such systems with timber and NWFP store more than 3.3 times the carbon of unshaded cocoa orchards.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7650-3_30


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