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  • Tropical fruit tree diversity: Good practices for in situ and on-farm conservation

Tropical fruit tree diversity: Good practices for in situ and on-farm conservation


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Farmers have developed a range of agricultural practices to sustainably use and maintain a wide diversity of crop species in many parts of the world. This book documents good practices innovated by farmers and collects key reviews on good practices from global experts, not only from the case study countries but also from Brazil, China and other parts of Asia and Latin America.

A good practice for diversity is defined as a system, organization or process that, over time and space, maintains, enhances and creates crop genetic diversity, and ensures its availability to and from farmers and other users. Drawing on experiences from a UNEP-GEF project on “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wild and Cultivated Tropical Fruit Tree Diversity for Promoting Livelihoods, Food Security and Ecosystem Services”, with case studies from India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, the authors show how methods for identifying good practices are still evolving and challenges in scaling-up remain.

They identify key principles effective as a strategy for mainstreaming good practice into development efforts. Few books draw principles and lessons learned from good practices. This book fills this gap by combining good practices from the research project on tropical fruit trees with chapters from external experts to broaden its scope and relevance.


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  • China’s conversion of cropland to forest program: a systematic review of the environmental and socioeconomic effects

China’s conversion of cropland to forest program: a systematic review of the environmental and socioeconomic effects


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Background

Farming on sloping lands has historically led to forest loss and degradation in China, which coupled with unsustainable timber extraction activities, was deemed responsible for catastrophic flooding events in the late 1990s. These events led to the introduction of forest policies targeting ecological conservation and rural development in China, a process epitomized by the launch of the conversion of cropland to forest program (CCFP) in 1999. This systematic review responds to the question: What are the environmental and socioeconomic effects of China’s Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program after the first 15 years of implementation?


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  • A world with trees but without the word 'forest' – a thought experiment

A world with trees but without the word ‘forest’ – a thought experiment


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A cacao field receives light shade from native forest trees. Photo by E Smith/ICRAF
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A landscape in Vietnam with small scale logging and various types of tree cover: is there forest in view? Photo by ICRAF

The recent paper China’s fight to halt tree cover loss carefully avoided the word ‘forest’ in its title. 

It challenged the various definitions of forest that may cause more confusion than necessary, and preferred the more objectively observable ‘tree cover’ term for discussing what types of changes are occurring in China and whether or not the investments made by the state are delivering the services society wants.

In the paper, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) researchers showed that China’s forest cover gains remain highly dependent on definition.

This leads to a thought experiment – please give it a try for the next five minutes: Can we do without the word ‘forest’ and its derivatives (deforestation, reforestation, afforestation, agroforestry, agroforestation)?

Let’s try. No, not a world without trees, of course. It is hard to think of landscapes completely without perennial woody stemmed plants – although they may be short and sparse in harsh climates, belong to a wide range of plant families, including ferns, conifers, dicotyledons and grasses, restricted to the edges of fields, lining roads, isolated remnants of a formerly denser vegetation retained to provide shade, or planted to create a more pleasant environment around houses and in urban areas.

No, not a world without “old growth”, “young growth”, “jungle rubber”, “home gardens”, “timber plantation”, “tree crops”, “line plantings” and vegetation derived from “old growth” by various degrees of logging and currently recovering.

Not a world, however, where we lump part of these land covers, and exclude others from a black-versus-white terminology, without words for the greys in between.

It could be a world where all land covers without or with trees are described by terms that are precise and clear. The amount, type, age and size of trees and other flora and fauna that shape land cover are directly related to its ‘use’, the ecosystem services and benefits provided to humans (and to those who attribute a right to non-human inhabitants of this planet).

Read also: New look at satellite data quantifies scale of China’s afforestation success

Trees produce wood of a wide range of qualities and utilities, fruits, resins, nectar for honeybees, medicinals and other tradable goods. Trees interact with water in the full hydrological cycle of atmospheric moisture, clouds, rainfall, runoff, groundwater recharge and regulated river flow.

Trees have major influence on micro- and meso-climates, and some role in the global carbon balance (no there is no shortage of atmospheric oxygen, so they don’t solve problems here). Trees represent a pretty good cross section of plant families, and support a huge diversity of beetles, other insects, birds and beasts.

A cacao field receives light shade from native forest trees. Photo by E Smith/ICRAF

Some forms of tree cover are better in some of these functions, others in other. It is not easy to draw a single line in deciding on a dichotomous two-stage land cover classification. It makes more sense to have many more categories, be clear on what tree functions are needed where and take measures to promote these.

Is it hard to describe all this without using the f-word? It does take some effort, but it may be liberating after the initial shock. Our data show that rates of change (‘deforestation’) in the landscapes where we work strongly depend on the operational forest definition, making the term as such meaningless.

Currently fashionable claims to ‘deforestation-free’ value chains have no substance in the absence of clarity of the basic terms used.

All well and good, but who should control and regulate the land where trees are supposed to grow and thrive? Don’t we need foresters, forest policy, forestry laws, forestry departments, forestry science, a global forest agreement, forest accounting rules and forest law enforcement? Depending on the specific type of tree cover and the primary functions to society, the answer to these questions will differ.

We certainly need land use laws and policies, land governance agencies, land use and landscape science, and clarity in how all land cover types can contribute to various parts of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. But maybe, the agriculture vs forest dichotomy on which current concepts are built is actually not helpful, and we better go to the next level of distinctions between the various types and function of partial and complete tree cover in our landscapes.

FTA was explicitly set up to deal with the whole continuum of land cover and land use types, without prejudice to any specific interpretation of what it and what is not included in ‘forest’ or ‘agroforestry’ as separate categories. Indeed, the trees are bridging a wide spectrum of land uses.

By Meine van Noordwijk, FTA senior scientist, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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


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  • New look at satellite data quantifies scale of China's afforestation success

New look at satellite data quantifies scale of China’s afforestation success


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Tree planting in Xinjiang, a dry province in China’s west. Photo by Jianchu Xu/ICRAF
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Tree planting has been carried out in Xinjiang, a dry province in China’s west. Photo by Jianchu Xu/ICRAF

China has invested more resources than any other country in reversing deforestation and planting trees. However, given the large scale of these programs it has been difficult to quantify their impact on forest cover.

A new FTA-related study shows that much of China’s new tree cover consists of sparse, low plantations as opposed to large areas of dense, high tree cover. The results of the study could help policymakers track returns from tree-planting investment and identify suitable environments for future afforestation, aiding efforts to sequester carbon, prevent soil degradation and enhance biodiversity.

China’s forest cover gains are dependent on definition, according to the study, which included FTA scientists.

Since devastating floods in 1998 highlighted the dangers of deforestation, China has enacted strict bans on logging in primary forests, a massive expansion of forest reserves, and multibillion-dollar afforestation programs.

“This approach has undoubtedly had a major impact on reducing loss of trees in China,” said Antje Ahrends of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), and lead author of the study. “China has spent more than US$100 billion on planting trees over the last decade alone. However, despite the many successes of this program, planting trees is not the same as gaining forests.”

Special purpose shrub and tree planting in China’s western deserts involves saxaul, Chinese tamarisk and Calligonum arborescent. Photo by Jianchu Xu/ICRAF

In China’s fight to halt tree cover loss, Ahrends and her colleagues analyzed high-resolution maps derived from satellite data using different definitions of “forest”. Under the broadest definition, that used by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), China gained 434,000 km² of forest cover between 2000 and 2010 – larger than the areas of Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined.

However, this definition includes scattered, immature or stunted plantations often consisting of a single species or even single clones, which are unlikely to provide the same benefits as large areas of dense and tall forest. The recently published paper was co-authored by a team from organisations including RBGE, KIB and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

“We wanted to see how this picture would change if we specifically looked for large areas of tall, relatively dense tree cover” said co-author and FTA scientist Xu Jianchu of ICRAF and KIB. “Understanding the type of cover established by afforestation programmes is critical to understanding the impacts of these projects on soil health, biodiversity and carbon sequestration.”

The results were dramatically different: under the stricter definition, China’s forests expanded by less than a tenth of the previous estimates – 33,000 km², an area smaller than the size of The Netherlands.

The study also noted the practical challenges facing tree planting programmes in China: the country has to feed one-fifth of the global population on less than one-tenth of the world’s agriculturally suitable land, and its growing economy means land suitable for growing trees is increasingly in demand for food production, construction and industrial use.

“Our analysis illustrates the importance of both definitions and large-scale monitoring for understanding changes in tree cover,” said co-author Peter Hollingsworth of RBGE. “It provides enhanced understanding of where tree planting programmes are most successful, and whether those programs are leading to dense forests or sparsely spaced shrubs.”

The report also looks at global trends: the researchers found that roughly half of the world’s forest cover has been lost over the past 10,000 years, and that tree cover is being lost in low-income countries at a rate of around 25,000 km² per year. However, the researchers also found evidence that many countries which have in the past lost much of their forests may be shifting to protect their remaining tree cover.

By Andrew Stevenson, originally published by the World Agroforestry Centre. Edited by Hannah Maddison-Harris.


This research is supported by the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant no. QYZDY-SSW-SMC014). Funding was also provided by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS).

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. We would like to thank all donors who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.


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  • FTA scientists show China's forest cover gains are dependent on definition

FTA scientists show China’s forest cover gains are dependent on definition


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Rice fields and forest plantations integrated in the landscape provide food and timber resources while regulating water provision to an ancient agricultural irrigation system. In the background are karst mountain formations typical of the landscape in Guizhou and Guangxi provinces in Southwest China. Photo by Louis Putzel/CIFOR
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Rice fields and forest plantations integrated in the landscape provide food and timber resources while regulating water provision. In the background are karst mountain formations typical of Guizhou and Guangxi provinces in Southwest China. Photo by Louis Putzel/CIFOR

Home to one-fifth of the global population, China is seeing “great pressures on natural resources, including forests,” according to a recently published FTA-related study, China’s fight to halt tree cover loss.

The country is making concerted afforestation efforts and working hard to reverse the trend of tree cover losses, says the study, which analyzed reforestation in China.

China’s forestry expenditure per hectare is over three times higher than the global average, the study noted, and the country has invested over US$100 billion into six key forestry programs in the past decade.

Despite this, the research showed that China’s forest cover gains are highly dependent on definition; one has to look at how the term ‘forest’ is used in order to quantify them.

Read also: New look at satellite data quantifies scale of China’s afforestation success 

The issue of forest definitions has fundamental implications on the way afforestation and deforestation numbers are reported, can be compared and may be appropriately understood by all, as discussed in a recent blog post, One number to rule them all, by Peter Holmgren.

The recent research paper carefully avoided using the term forest in its title, said FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk, who was not involved in the research.

Afforestation of agricultural land is seen in Dongquan County, Yunnan Province, China, with Xinjiang barley growing in the foreground. Photo by Louis Putzel/CIFOR

“It challenged the various definitions of forest that may cause more confusion than necessary, and preferred the more objectively observable ‘tree cover’ term for discussing what types of changes are occurring in China and whether or not the investments made by the state are delivering the services society wants,” he explained.

“The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry was explicitly set up to deal with the whole continuum of land cover and land use types, without prejudice to any specific interpretation of what is and what is not included in ‘forest’ or ‘agroforestry’ as separate categories. Indeed, the trees are bridging a wide spectrum of land uses,” Van Noordwijk added.

The New York Times, in a recent article on the research, questioned whether “official estimates of China’s greening campaign overstated its successes,” by mistaking shrubs for forests.

Van Noordwijk was quoted in the article as saying that the findings “point to major gaps between the way the concept of forest is defined in the various international conventions, versus how the general public understands it.”

His comments shed light on the matter by offering more ways to understand the determinants of this complex debate surrounding the methods and definitions used for measuring forests.

Read also:

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator.


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  • China's fight to halt tree cover loss

China’s fight to halt tree cover loss


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Authors: Antje Ahrends, Peter M. Hollingsworth, Philip Beckschäfer, Huafang Chen, Robert J. Zomer, Lubiao Zhang, Mingcheng Wang, Jianchu Xu

Abstract

China is investing immense resources for planting trees, totalling more than US$ 100 billion in the past decade alone. Every year, China reports more afforestation than the rest of the world combined. Here, we show that China’s forest cover gains are highly definition-dependent. If the definition of ‘forest’ follows FAO criteria (including immature and temporarily unstocked areas), China has gained 434 000 km2 between 2000 and 2010. However, remotely detectable gains of vegetation that non-specialists would view as forest (tree cover higher than 5 m and minimum 50% crown cover) are an order of magnitude less (33 000 km2). Using high-resolution maps and environmental modelling, we estimate that approximately 50% of the world’s forest with minimum 50% crown cover has been lost in the past approximately 10 000 years. China historically lost 1.9–2.7 million km2 (59–67%), and substantial losses continue. At the same time, most of China’s afforestation investment targets environments that our model classes as unsuitable for trees. Here, gains detectable via satellite imagery are limited. Conversely, the regions where modest gains are detected are environmentally suitable but have received little afforestation investment due to conflicting land-use demands for agriculture and urbanization. This highlights the need for refined forest monitoring, and greater consideration of environmental suitability in afforestation programmes.

Publication year: 2017

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  • Forests and fungi: Mekong communities reap the rewards of a 500 million-year-old partnership

Forests and fungi: Mekong communities reap the rewards of a 500 million-year-old partnership


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Marasmius purpureostriatus. Photo by Steve Axford/ICRAF
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By Andrew Stevenson, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

We are only just beginning to realise how much life on earth depends on the partnership between fungi and forests. A recent video, released to mark the International Day of Forests on 21 March highlights new research into fungi in the Mekong region, including how local communities can benefit from harvesting and cultivating mushrooms – and how these benefits are linked to protecting forests.

Most people would agree that forests are a vital part of a healthy planet: around 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for their livelihoods, and forest trees help provide us with healthy soils, clean water and even breathable air. The role of fungi is less well known. Yet without fungi, forests would not exist. In fact, without fungi, it’s unlikely that there would be much life on land at all – over 500 million years ago, it was a partnership between fungi and plants that allowed marine plants to colonize the land. Today, fungi continue to help forests grow by supplying trees with nutrients and breaking down organic matter.

Researchers examine fungi samples in Yunnan, China. Photo by Catherine Marciniak/ICRAF

Fungi are also a vital source of nutrition and income for many communities around the world, including in the Greater Mekong region, which comprises parts of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. This area contains an astonishing variety of fungi, including many species which produce edible and medicinal mushrooms. Yet according to World Agroforestry Centre mycologist Dr Samantha Karunarathna, “while local people are keen to make use of this resource, they often don’t know how to identify wild mushrooms that are safe to consume – and they can struggle to sell their harvest for a good price.”

In response, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) are training local communities in mushroom identification, cultivation, harvesting and trade, and  have established the Southeast Asian Fungal Network to help communities and researchers share information. As ICRAF soil biologist Dr Peter Mortimer points out, “the project aims to give Mekong communities not only a reliable source of income and nutrition but also an incentive to conserve natural forests, which are the source of many of the most valuable mushroom species”.

Marasmius purpureostriatus. Photo by Steve Axford/ICRAF

ICRAF and KIB’s work on fungi in the Mekong region has been endorsed by the Mountain Futures Initiative, an international effort to find and support new projects that can improve the lives of mountain communities and safeguard their environments. The Initiative aims to plant the seeds of brighter, more sustainable futures in mountain regions around the world by bringing scientific research and traditional knowledge together.

The two organisations are also working together to catalogue the Mekong region’s fungal diversity: over 3,000 species are known to exist in this region, and over the past five years, 20% of the species collected have been new to science. However, continued deforestation means that these unique varieties of fungi – and their potential applications in medicine, agriculture and industry – are rapidly being lost. National and international support for further research and conservation efforts is therefore urgently needed to safeguard the future of this ancient partnership between forests and fungi.


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  • Towards a global centre of excellence for land restoration after mining

Towards a global centre of excellence for land restoration after mining


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Originally posted at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

The scale of mining activities today is greater than ever but so are its environmental and social impacts. Over the past few decades mining has contributed to millions of hectares of land degradation worldwide. Open-pit mining transforms productive landscapes into ruined wastelands with disastrous consequences for biodiversity, climate, water and soil resources and the livelihoods and health of local people. Yet this is a solvable problem.

We have developed and tested a complete set of planning tools and restoration technologies which can return mining sites to full ecological functioning and productivity. These tools include next-generation technologies for seedling nurseries, genebank resources for climate-smart agroforestry species selection, investment decision analysis and institutional arrangements for restoration and eco-friendly income generation.

We therefore propose the establishment of a global centre of excellence for mining restoration. The centre will implement restoration projects in selected developing countries and work with a range of stakeholders to develop policies and practices on the ground. This could kick-start restoration around the world not only of mining sites but wherever human activities have damaged our planet.

Watch the video below, which forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.


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  • How do property rights regimes provide incentives for Forest Landscape Restoration? Evidence from Nepal, China and Ethiopia

How do property rights regimes provide incentives for Forest Landscape Restoration? Evidence from Nepal, China and Ethiopia


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Presentation by Peter Cronkleton, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), at IUFRO Regional Congress for Asia and Oceania, October 2016, in Bejing, China.


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  • Update on gender research projects

Update on gender research projects


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Focus group discussion in Forish Forestry Enterprise, Jizzakh Province, Uzbekistan. Photo: N. Muhsimov/Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Centre of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry
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ICRAF | Bioversity International | CIAT | CIFOR

Climate change is severely affecting Yunnan Province. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR
Climate change is severely affecting Yunnan Province. Photo: Louis Putzel/CIFOR

ICRAF

Gender and climate change in China’s Yunnan Province

In 2016, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) East and Central Asia office (ECA) has made significant progress on gender and climate change research to inform policy makers in China’s Yunnan Province.

First, ICRAF-ECA has recently been investigating how gender affects climate change adaptation throughout Yunnan. This Poverty and Vulnerability Analysis China Gender Report will be published as a working paper before the end of this year.

It is a part of a wider initiative investigating how gender has influenced climate change adaptation throughout the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, conducted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which includes Nepal, Pakistan and India. All research teams involved in this initiative used the Livelihood Vulnerability Index, developed by Hahn in 2009.

Preliminary results show that climate change has severely affected Yunnan Province and that few interventions have tried to better prepare local communities for future changes in livelihoods, water availability and natural disasters. It seems that most households are extremely vulnerable and have few resources to support short or long-term mitigation efforts in response to climate change. In this context, gender is one of the factors in predicting adaptation and vulnerability.

Additionally a paper on gender-specific responses to drought in Yunnan Province is currently being revised in line with comments received from journal reviewers. This paper reveals that during the period of record-breaking drought from 2009-2012, women’s changing role in agriculture and household resource management had important consequences for individual and community responses to water resource stresses.

Perceptions of drought impacts and of responses to the drought differed significantly according to gender. However, government policies and practices which aim to support adaptation and adaptive capacity have so far failed to take this gender differentiation into account, and as a result may be out of step with local drought responses, and may even serve to further marginalize mountain women in water resource management.

Finally two Chinese language book chapters about gender and climate change adaptation will be included in the book “Gender analysis of climate change impacts and adaptation” (in Chinese), also to be published this year.

A workshop is planned before the end of the year in Yunnan to disseminate the book among government officers and discuss relevant research findings and policy options.

For more information please contact Yufang Su at y.su@cgiar.org


Focus group discussion in Forish Forestry Enterprise, Jizzakh Province, Uzbekistan. Photo: N. Muhsimov/Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Centre of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry
Focus group discussion in Forish Forestry Enterprise, Jizzakh Province, Uzbekistan. Photo: N. Muhsimov/Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Centre of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry

Bioversity International

Project: Conservation for diversified and sustainable use of fruit tree genetic resources in Central Asia

The project ‘Conservation for diversified and sustainable use of fruit tree genetic resources in Central Asia’ aims to improve the prospects for long-term food security and livelihoods of farmers in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its focus is on generating and disseminating knowledge about fruit and nut tree species, including traits that are important for adaptation and nutrition, their patterns of genetic diversity and how to effectively conserve them.

As primary users and custodians of fruit trees, both women and men play a key role in the management, conservation and transfer of fruit tree resources to future generations. Understanding gender-specific practices, knowledge and perceptions related to forests and trees as well as associated gender-based constraints in their management is essential to co-develop, with local forest managers, equitable innovations in the management of fruit tree genetic resources.

In September, national research partners in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan havecompleted a set of participatory research activities and interviews in project sites to explore gender-specific forest and fruit-tree-related knowledge, practices and interests.

Semi-structured interviews focused on the state’s role in forest management have been conducted with staff from 20 Forestry Enterprises (national forest management units). In parallel, 390 semi-structured interviews have been held with local men and women who manage fruit trees in their home gardens to understand resource management decisions and sourcing of planting material. The focus was on varieties of apple (Malus spp.), apricot (Prunus armeniaca) and walnut (Juglans regia) grown. Finally, 26 focus group discussions on local fruit tree management practices have been held with forest dwellers in separate women’s and men’s groups. Data are currently being cleaned and translated into English.

Results will provide guidance on how to foster the equitable participation of men and women in the management of fruit tree genetic resources in home gardens and forests. They will also help identify strategies for promoting the use of ‘wild’ (forest-based) fruit and nut tree genetic resources in home gardens; for addressing threats to wild populations of fruit and nut species; and for capturing opportunities for sustainable use and conservation of wild fruit and nut tree populations.

National research partners are :

  • Uzbek Republican Scientific and Production Center of Ornamental Gardening and Forestry
  • Kyrgyz National Agrarian University
  • Institute of Horticulture of Tajik Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The project is coordinated by Bioversity International with financing from the Government of Luxembourg and with co-funding from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

For more information please contact Marlene Elias at marlene.elias@cgiar.org


Photo: CIAT
Photo: CIAT

CIAT

Looking at gender in coffee agroforestry in Nicaragua

The research on gender, tree uses, and decision-making patterns among shade coffee producers in Tuma la Dalia, Nicaragua has made some progress.

Research suggests that coffee agroforestry producers in Latin American countries derive significant commercial and subsistence value from the non-coffee products of the agroforestry system, for example, timber, fuelwood, and fruits. However, there is a lack of consideration of gender aspects within the research, for example, how uses derived from the agroforestry system may vary between men and women producers.

The objectives are:

  • Analyze how men and women value and use trees on farms.
  • Understand the role of men and women in the decision-making process on the use and management of trees.

The research results shall support the development of gender-sensitive climate change interventions focused on high value tree crops. CIAT partners with the Fundación para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Agropecuario y Forestal de Nicaragua (FUNICA).

Findings suggest that women perceive more household uses of farm trees than men. Furthermore, women may be more prone to giving more importance than men to fruit trees than those used for timber. Results also demonstrate that although men tend to dominate decision-making processes, women and men both participate in decision-making on harvest sales and how to use income.

For more information please contact Tatiana Gumucio at T.Gumucio@cgiar.org


CIFOR

Photo: Carol J. Pierce Colfer
Photo: Carol J. Pierce Colfer

Gendered dimensions of agricultural land investments

The social and environmental effects of large-scale agricultural investments in forested landscapes have been extensively documented and debated in public and scholarly spheres, compelling a reassessment of investment policies and rural development plans, agrarian reforms, and regulatory safeguards on the part of host governments and the donor community.

While land deals come with promises of economic prosperity, studies suggest that their negative externalities have disproportionately impacted resource-poor groups, including women and landless farmers.

Within the vast literature on large-scale land acquisitions, or “land grabs”, there has been relatively little research systematically documenting mediating factors that affect rural women and men in the process of agribusiness investments or how different outcomes might be realized under more smallholder-inclusive investment models.

This research contributes to CIFOR’s gendered research agenda by examining the ways in which women and men are differently affected by agribusiness expansion into forested landscapes of Tanzania.

How do factors such as tenure regimes, institutional context and norms, market conditions, financial and other types of capital, intra-household relations, or other social practices mediate the ways in which women and men are differentially integrated into investor supply chains?

How are feminine and masculine domains reinforced, restructured, or renegotiated as a result of inclusion or exclusion into different investment modalities?

For more Information please contact Emily Gallagher at E.Gallagher@cgiar.org

Gender Café at previous Global Landscapes Forum. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT
Gender Café at previous Global Landscapes Forum. Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT

Upcoming events: Panel discussion and side events at GLF and COP

Concerns over gender equality and women’s empowerment are increasingly considered in climate change policy at the global level.

There are currently over 50 UNFCCC decisions that support gender integration in climate policy, including the two-year Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG). The LWPG was initated at COP20 in Lima 2014 with a two-fold objective: enhancing the gender balance of the UNFCCC negotiations; and achieving gender-responsive climate policy.

However, while there now is a clear global mandate to develop and implement gender-responsive climate policy and action, these commitments are often not evident in national climate policies. For instance, only 40% of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted to the secretariat before COP21 in Paris made any references to women or gender. In the instances such references were made, they often served to paint a rather generalized picture of women as ‘vulnerable populations’.

The focus of COP22 will be on the implementation of the Paris Agreement: How are the Parties to the Agreement going to deliver on the promises made in Paris? This year’s COP also marks the end of the two-year LWPG. Parties and observer organizations have thus been urged by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to share experiences and views to guide the possible continuation and enhancement of the program.

Given the gap between the global commitments to gender-responsive climate policy and their systematic implementation on a national level, it is of crucial importance to highlight and assess some of the existing attempts to address gender issues in climate policies.

Towards this end, the gender integration team is partnering with a wide range of organizations to bring together a high-level panel at the Global Landscapes Forum 2016 in Marrakesh on Wednesday November 16th. The focus will be on translating these global commitments into national and local actions. Partners are UN Women, UNDP–UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF).

Together with the same partners, we are also convening a skills share session at the GGCA Innovation Forum on Saturday November 12th, as well as a side-event at the UNFCCC COP22 (green zone) on Monday November 14th.

The above sessions will delve into the national processes of drafting and implementing gender-responsive climate policy. Particularly, the panelists will explore the role of multiple stakeholders – ranging from advocates and practitioners to researchers and donors – in supporting such processes.

The sessions will further investigate if, how and when ‘gender-responsive policies’ actually enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment on the ground. Participants will be invited to share achievements and challenges of drafting and implementing gender-responsive climate policy and action thus far, thereby fostering South–South learning of good practices.

The sessions will also provide an opportunity to deliberate over a minimum set of standards that countries could follow to ensure that commitment towards addressing gender equality are firmly rooted in national climate policy and action and that mechanisms for accountability, monitoring and continuous learning are in place.

 


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Q&A: Lessons from China for forest landscape restoration


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This interview is Part 1 of a three-part series on forest landscape restoration to coincide with the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held from 1-10 September in Hawai’i, USA.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) will be represented in various panels and sessions at the event as part of the KNOWFOR partnership with the World Bank Program on Forests (PROFOR) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Louis Putzel, CIFOR Senior Scientist, spoke with Forests News ahead of the event:

What is forest landscape restoration?

I would say forest landscape restoration is a large-scale planning process that involves improving the ecological functions of landscapes by replacing or increasing the amount of tree cover. It’s a very flexible concept and includes practices ranging from setting land aside for natural regeneration to plantation forestry.

Video
Restoring rainforests in the Asia-Pacific

The basic principle is that increasing biomass in landscapes – and that can be trees, shrubs or even grasses, like bamboo – generates multiple environmental benefits such as carbon capture, water purification and flood control.

What aspects of FLR are your team interested in researching?

The KNOWFOR project team I work with is mostly looking at government FLR programs in hilly and mountainous landscapes populated by farming communities. There’s a lot of work to do on the human dimensions of FLR, because a lot of the land identified as important to restore for environmental reasons is currently occupied by people. Some of it is very densely populated and has been used for agriculture or grazing for hundreds if not thousands of years. So restoration in such spaces involves trade-offs with food production, at least at the local level and in the short term. In areas that are economically challenged anyway, that’s a major consideration.

Under the Bonn Challenge [a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030]Ethiopia has committed 15 million hectares, the Democratic Republic of Congo has committed 8 million hectares, Rwanda has committed 2 million hectares.

So in such places there are major issues to work out: who owns the land, who has rights to the land, what is the land being used for, what are the economic benefits of agriculture, what are the food needs of the people? All those things need to be compensated for if that land is to be converted to forest.

REDD+
Who is really bearing the cost?

These questions are now looming, and there’s a need for a huge amount of research. Because as with REDD+, a lot of the restoration is going to be happening where people are already living on the margins.

This is for a number of reasons. A lot of the areas that are degraded are likely to be poorer areas in the first place. Another reason is that it’s cheaper to compensate poorer people. So the lands identified for restoration are likely to be those where opportunity costs are low – so by definition, where people are poor.

We can learn a lot by studying the experience of countries with a long track record in landscape-level restoration. So in addition to reviewing literature, visiting smallholder restoration areas and analyzing data, we at CIFOR are doing a lot of knowledge exchange with our partners, bringing together people from international organizations like IUCN, INBAR, and others to exchange with government forestry people all over, from China and Africa to the US.

Asia-Pacific
Reversing deforestation, restoring landscapes

You are based in China and have been analyzing forest landscape restoration practices there. What lessons can be drawn from China’s experience?

For several years we’ve been working with the Forest Economics and Development Research Center, a think-tank attached to China’s State Forestry Administration.

FLR as a field has a lot to learn from China. Because China is so big and diverse, and has suffered such serious consequences from deforestation in the past, they’ve had to implement a huge range of strategies to get trees back into the landscape, from conservation and protection or ‘exclosure’ of ecologically fragile slopes, to actual conversion of agricultural land to forest. One such program, the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program, pays farmers to plant trees in their fields, and allocates degraded lands to families to restore.

Just under that one program, they’ve so far converted nearly 30 million hectares of farmland and land classified as barren or degraded.

 

Socioeconomic and environmental effects of China’s Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program after 15 years: a systematic review protocol

 

There are some important lessons about subsidies. The government has been subsidizing restoration on this large scale since 1999, and the idea has always been to reduce the subsidies, and eventually wean the people off them. But it’s important to consider how the landscape serves people’s economic needs in the long run, once the subsidies have ended. How will cycles of dependency affect sustainability?

China’s case is complex because the restoration is happening at the same time as mass migration from rural to urban areas and major changes in employment structures, as well as comprehensive tenure reform, which all have effects on land use, tending to reduce pressure in rural areas and increase it around cities.

From our systematic review of the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program (CCFP) [in press] it’s pretty clear that CCFP subsidies give a bit of a push to people to do less farming and to plant trees before leaving their land to go take work in towns nearby or in other provinces.

CCFP
Measuring impact a challenge as China reclaims farmlands for forests

Another lesson from China is that FLR doesn’t always work as expected. From an ecological perspective, restoration of degraded areas is a science that requires very specific knowledge of local ecology, good matching of species and practices to sites. There have been areas where the species chosen for planting required more water than was available, reducing survival and requiring replanting.

The CCFP has increased China’s forest area by something like 3 percent in just 15 years, which is very impressive. Some of the new forest cover isn’t very diverse, but of course, forests change over time, so more species could potentially migrate into areas that have more trees.

 

China’s Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program for Household Delivery of Ecosystem Services: How Important is a Local Implementation Regime to Survival Rate Outcomes?

 

But these are things to consider in FLR around the world. As governments look to restoring forest in mosaic agricultural lands, for example, are they going to increase or decrease biodiversity, or economic benefits, or water ecosystem services? How does the restored forest compare to mosaic agricultural lands that are already diverse in structure and function?

In a rush to restore forest area, we sometimes see an expansion of fast-growing tree monocultures – plantations of eucalyptus, pine, poplar or rubber. These may restore economic benefits, and if the land was severely degraded before, may increase environmental services somewhat, and they certainly can store carbon if managed for that.

FLR is not just what the landscape looks like today, it’s about imagining what it will look like in the future, long after the restoration activities have occurred.

Louis Putzel, CIFOR Senior Scientist

Finally, restoration depends on tremendous financial resources. We are talking about billions of dollars, not millions, to restore landscapes on the scale of the Bonn Challenge. Big countries like China, and the United States as well, can give us a sense of the magnitude of funding needed to compensate millions of farmers for increasing landscape ecosystem services through restoration.

What is your message to those meeting at the IUCN World Congress about FLR?

FLR is not just what the landscape looks like today, it’s about imagining what it will look like in the future, long after the restoration activities have occurred. It’s about understanding ecological processes over the long term at the landscape level. This is something that’s challenging for a big and diverse group of government and conservation organizations to do, because ecological and social conditions vary tremendously from place to place.

FLR requires tremendous capacity for planning, for delineating space, for communicating with the populations living in the restoration areas, for creating the systems whereby they will adopt restoration programs. Personally, I think national governments still have to play a key role in balancing between uses, taking responsibility for trade-offs, and deploying funds on the scale required. And also in being there for the long term – international development project cycles are too short, and private investment requires a return before too long.

 

FLR at IUCN World Congress: Highlights from China and the US

 

The Bonn Challenge is definitely doable, but it is a major endeavor that requires a lot of research and smart policy. And the social angle requires a huge amount of attention – to a large degree that has been overlooked or given short shrift so far.

In the end, we need to ask who will inherit or benefit from restored landscapes, and how can we ensure people living in the most remote target areas end up better off than before? If more trees and forests benefit them enough to make FLR work, we all win.


This topic will be featured by
CIFOR at IUCN World Conservation Congress
1-10 September 2016 | Honolulu – Hawai’i, USA
See event details here

See the rest of the story at mysite.com

Related:
VIDEO: Laporan dari Pasifik: ‘Perubahan iklim itu nyata’
VIDEO: Restorasi hutan hujan di Asia Pasifik
La inversión en plantaciones forestales sostenibles: hay herramientas, pero urgen mejoras

Source: Forests News English


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  • Regreening Ethiopia

Regreening Ethiopia


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Ethiopia – Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is the ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded areas.

CIFOR’s FLR research work is funded by the International Forestry Knowledge (KNOWFOR) Program. KNOWFOR aims to provide policymakers and practitioners in developing countries with useful evidence, tools and analysis on forests, trees and climate change.

KNOWFOR’s ongoing work will be presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held from 1-10 September in Hawai’i, USA.

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Q&A: Lessons from China for forest landscape restoration


This topic will be featured by
CIFOR at IUCN World Conservation Congress
1-10 September 2016 | Honolulu – Hawai’i, USA
See event details here

See the rest of the story at mysite.com

Related:
Q&A: Lessons from China for forest landscape restoration
VIDEO: Laporan dari Pasifik: ‘Perubahan iklim itu nyata’
VIDEO: Restorasi hutan hujan di Asia Pasifik

Source: Forests News English


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