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  • Gender aspects in action- and outcome-based payments for ecosystem services — A tree planting field trial in Kenya

Gender aspects in action- and outcome-based payments for ecosystem services — A tree planting field trial in Kenya

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Payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes have been increasingly implemented in developing countries where gender-related inequalities are generally prevalent. A randomized field trial in Kenya revealed the impacts of participants’ gender in conservation auctions and in environmental performance of action- and outcome-based PES schemes and provided evidence for associations between the gender effects and traditional gender roles. First, we identified differences between men and women in the utilities of the contract and relative risk aversion as potential drivers of the decrease in bids by women compared to men in the auction for action-based contracts. Second, we observed a gender-specific difference in perceptions of risk in the outcome-based approach when women increased their bids. Third, women achieved lower tree survival than men, despite women providing more effort. In this context, we identified the inequality in reciprocal labor for male and female contract holders as a possible source of the gendered tree survival. This case study showed that targeting women improves gender equity in terms of access to project decision-making, trainings and cash, and can significantly improve the effectiveness of the PES scheme.

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  • Perceived Changes in Ecosystem Services in the Panchase Mountain Ecological Region, Nepal

Perceived Changes in Ecosystem Services in the Panchase Mountain Ecological Region, Nepal

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Ecosystem services (ES) are increasingly recognized as a means to facilitate adaption to environmental change. However, the provisions of ES are likely to be impacted by changes in climate and/or changes in land use. In developing countries, where people are typically dependent on these services for their livelihoods, these impacts are of concern; however, very little is known about the changes in provisioning of ES over time. In this study, we assess the perceived changes on ES in the Panchase Mountain Ecological Region of western Nepal. The study area accommodates three distinct ecoregions, ranging from lowland to upland ecosystems and communities. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were used to collect information on how ES may have changed in the landscape over time. This approach was supported by transect walks, field observations, and secondary sources of information, such as climatic and remote sensing data. Perceived changes on ES in the study region include reduced availability of water, reduced food production, degradation of forest ecosystems, and changes in species compositions. These changes are thought to have impacted other ES, and, in turn, local livelihoods. Management actions that can help local communities foster ES are recommended.

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  • Impact of Land Cover Change on Ecosystem Services in a Tropical Forested Landscape

Impact of Land Cover Change on Ecosystem Services in a Tropical Forested Landscape

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Ecosystems provide a wide range of goods, services or ecosystem services (ES) to society. Estimating the impact of land use and land cover (LULC) changes on ES values (ESV) is an important tool to support decision making. This study used remote sensing and GIS tools to analyze LULC change and transitions from 2001 to 2016 and assess its impact on ESV in a tropical forested landscape in the southern plains of Nepal. The total ESV of the landscape for the year 2016 is estimated at USD 1264 million year-1. As forests are the dominant land cover class and have high ES value per hectare, they have the highest contribution in total ESV. However, as a result of LULC change (loss of forests, water bodies, and agricultural land), the total ESV of the landscape has declined by USD 11 million year-1. Major reductions come from the loss in values of climate regulation, water supply, provision of raw materials and food production. To halt the ongoing loss of ES and maintain the supply and balance of different ES in the landscape, it is important to properly monitor, manage and utilize ecosystems. We believe this study will inform policymakers, environmental managers, and the general public on the ongoing changes and contribute to developing effective land use policy in the region.

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  • Use and perceived importance of forest ecosystem services in rural livelihoods of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Use and perceived importance of forest ecosystem services in rural livelihoods of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

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This study examines the relative benefits (provisioning) and importance (regulating and cultural) of forest ecosystem services to households in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of Bangladesh. Our results from 300 household interviews in three rural locations stratified by wealth shows that wealth levels of the respondents play a key role in explaining variations in the perceptions and use of forest ecosystem services. Considering the direct benefits, the importance of provisioning ecosystem services (i.e. fuel wood, food, timber, bamboo, thatch grass and fodder) varies according to their relative use (i.e. subsistence and cash income) among households of different wealth groups. No significant difference was found in perceptions of indirect benefits of forest ecosystem services of water purification, regulating air quality, crop pollination, soil fertility, aesthetic and spiritual services. But the higher wealth groups perceived soil protection, soil fertility, pest and disease control as important for crop production as they have large landholdings for agricultural uses and tree cover. This study suggests local wealth conditions of the rural households characterise the demand of the use and perceived importance of forest ecosystem services. Differences in levels of wealth and ecosystem service provision imply careful consideration of social and economic factors in decision-making and making appropriate interventions for forest and tree management. The ecosystem services approach appears to be useful in capturing the broader diversity of benefits of forests and trees (i.e. material and non-material) as well as in supporting their integrated management at the landscape scale.


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  • Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions

Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions

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Constructive critique. This book provides a critical, evidence-based analysis of REDD+ implementation so far, without losing sight of the urgent need to reduce forest-based emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change.

REDD+ as envisioned has not been tested at scale. Results-based payment, the novel feature of REDD+, has gone untested. International funding (both public and private) remains scarce, and demand through carbon markets is lacking.

Better national enabling conditions. Over 50 countries have included REDD+ in their NDCs and developed national REDD+ strategies. REDD+ has improved countries’ monitoring capacities and understanding of drivers, increased stakeholder involvement, and provided a platform to secure indigenous and community land rights – all key conditions for addressing deforestation and forest degradation.

Modest forest and social impacts. Local REDD+ initiatives have achieved limited but positive outcomes for forests. Well-being impacts have been modest and mixed, but have proved more likely to be positive when incentives are included.

National coordination, with a positive narrative. Forest-based mitigation strategies must now be mainstreamed across sectors and levels of government. A strong positive narrative on how forests contribute to economic development and climate goals could boost forest-based mitigation, in spite of the current political uncertainties in key emitting countries.

Evolving REDD+ and new initiatives. REDD+ has evolved, and new initiatives have emerged to support its broader objective: private sector sustainability commitments, climate-smart agriculture, forest and landscape restoration, and more holistic jurisdictional approaches working across legally defined territories.

Access each chapter via CIFOR.

Access the complete book.

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  • Governing Forest Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Environmental Governance

Governing Forest Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Environmental Governance

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Governing forest ecosystem services as a forest socioecological system is an evolving concept in the face of different environmental and social challenges. Therefore, different modes of ecosystem governance such as hierarchical, scientific–technical, and adaptive-collaborative governance have been developed. Although each form of governance offers important features, no one form on its own is sufficient to attain sustainable environmental governance (SEG). Thus, the blending of important features of each mode of governance could contribute to SEG, through a combination of both hierarchical and collaborative governance systems supported by scientifically and technically aided knowledge. This should be further reinforced by the broad engagement of stakeholders to ensure the improved well-being of both ecosystems and humans. Some form of governance and forest management measures, including sustainable forest management, forest certification, and payment for ecosystem services mechanisms, are also contributing to that end. While issues around commodification and putting a price on nature are still contested due to the complex relationship between different services, if these limitations are taken into account, the governance of forest ecosystem services will serve as a means of effective environmental governance and the sustainable management of forest resources. Therefore, forest ecosystem services governance has a promising future for SEG, provided limitations are tackled with due care in future governance endeavors.

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  • Fine-scale processes shape ecosystem service provision by an Amazonian hyperdominant tree species

Fine-scale processes shape ecosystem service provision by an Amazonian hyperdominant tree species

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Conspecific distance and density-dependence is a key driver of tree diversity in natural forests, but the extent to which this process may influence ecosystem service provision is largely unknown. Drawing on a dataset of >135,000 trees from the Peruvian Amazon, we assessed its manifestation in biomass accumulation and seed production of Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) which plays a keystone role in carbon sequestration and NTFP harvesting in Amazonia. For the first time, we find both negative and positive effects of conspecific proximity on seed production and above ground biomass at small and large nearest neighbour distances, respectively. Plausible explanations for negative effects at small distances are fine-scale genetic structuring and competition for shared resources, whereas positive effects at large distances are likely due to increasing pollen limitation and suboptimal growth conditions. Finally, findings suggest that most field plots in Amazonia used for estimating carbon storage are too small to account for distance and density-dependent effects and hence may be inadequate for measuring species-centric ecosystem services.

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  • Peatlands and ecosystem services at the Tropical Peatlands Exchange 2018

Peatlands and ecosystem services at the Tropical Peatlands Exchange 2018

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The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), with support from the government of Indonesia and participation of the private sector, organized a one-day event, the Tropical Peatlands Exchange 2018, to provide a platform for exchanges of information between stakeholders concerned with the sustainability of tropical peatlands in Indonesia. The outputs of the exchange can be scaled up to explore the possibility of engaging a broader range of partners and countries for a more effective south-south cooperation to tackle challenges around peatland conservation and restoration.

This is the recording of a session titled “Peatlands and ecosystem services”, in addition to the summary of the event, which took place on Aug. 8, 2018, in Bogor, Indonesia.

Originally published by CIFOR.

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  • Certifying Environmental Social Responsibility: Special Issue

Certifying Environmental Social Responsibility: Special Issue

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This Special Issue aims to contribute to the emerging science on how to maintain and rehabilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services effectively in the tropics where agricultural expansion has shaped the landscapes. Food production as a provisioning ecosystem service dominates direct economic value and employment in roughly half the world. Its sustainability, or lack thereof, depends on how the trade-offs between human activities and ecosystem services, beyond the provision of food, are balanced and managed locally and globally.

The Special Issue is a result of a research program by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). The program ‘zooms out’ from the details of certification schemes as such, and asks the broader questions of when, where and how certification responses arise to what types of issues, by whom they are initiated and what broader consequences they have.

The complete list of articles is:

  1. Environmentally and socially responsible global production and trade of timber and tree crop commodities: certification as a transient issue-attention cycle response to ecological and social issues
    Beria Leimona, Meine van Noordwijk, Dagmar Mithöfer, Paolo Cerutti
  2. Certify and shift blame, or resolve issues? Environmentally and socially responsible global trade and production of timber and tree crops
    Dagmar Mithöfer, Meine van Noordwijk, Beria Leimona, Paolo Omar Cerutti
  3. Tropical forest-transition landscapes: a portfolio for studying people, tree crops and agro-ecological change in context
    Sonya Dewi, Meine Van Noordwijk, Muhammad Thoha Zulkarnain, Adrian Dwiputra, Glenn Hyman, Ravi Prabhu, Vincent Gitz, Robert Nasi
  4. Discourses on the performance gap of agriculture in a green economy: a Q-methodology study in Indonesia
    Sacha Amaruzaman, Beria Leimona, Meine van Noordwijk, Betha Lusiana
  5. Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?
    Dagmar Mithöfer, James M. Roshetko, Jason A. Donovan, Ewane Nathalie, Valentina Robiglio, Duman Wau, Denis J. Sonwa, Trent Blare
  6. Harnessing local strength for sustainable coffee value chains in India and Nicaragua: reevaluating certification to global sustainability standards
    Dagmar Mithöfer, V. Ernesto Méndez, Arshiya Bose, Philippe Vaast
  7. Reviewing the impacts of coffee certification programmes on smallholder livelihoods
    Joshua G. Bray, Jeffrey Neilson
  8. Making a green rubber stamp: emerging dynamics of natural rubber eco-certification
    Sean F. Kennedy, Beria Leimona, Zhuang-Fang Yi
  9. Timber certification as a catalyst for change in forest governance in Cameroon, Indonesia, and Peru
    Sini Savilaakso, Paolo Omar Cerutti, Javier G. Montoya Zumaeta, Ruslandi, Edouard E. Mendoula, Raphael Tsanga
  10. Energizing agroforestry: Ilex guayusa as an additional commodity to diversify Amazonian agroforestry systems
    Torsten Krause, Barry Ness
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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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