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  • Tree-ring record in Ethiopian church forests reveals successive generation differences in growth rates and disturbance events

Tree-ring record in Ethiopian church forests reveals successive generation differences in growth rates and disturbance events


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Forests provide fundamental ecosystem services. Environmental changes are predicted to affect forest growth directly through increased environmental stressors, and indirectly by amplifying disturbance. To increase our understanding of effects of environmental changes and disturbance on Afromontane forest growth, we used tree-ring data collected from Juniperus procera trees from church forests in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia. We used structural change models to detect structural shift in growth trends. We applied Linear Mixed Effect Models (LMM) to compare growth rate differences between successive tree generations. The running mean method and radial growth pattern analysis were used to detect disturbance events. Three groups of generations were identified based on Basal Area Increment (BAI) rates. There are significant differences (?=2204.64, P<.001) anong generations in pace of BAI, indicating that old generation trees grew at a slower pace than younger ones. Radial growth patterns were homogeneous for the old generation, but diverse in young trees. The observed high growth rates in the younger generation may have a negative effect on the longevity of the individuals and positively affect carbon accumulation in the biomass. Disturbance was detected in all generations, but worsened in the 20th century. anout 35% of disturbances matched with climate extreme events, providing evidence that the disturbance is both human-induced (i.e., site-specific) and climate-induced. Thus, forest management plans should emerge from a sound understanding of climate-forest-human interaction.


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  • Defining critical issues in forest ecosystem services in Bhutan

Defining critical issues in forest ecosystem services in Bhutan


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A large patch of lemongrass grows in the Chisapani Community Forest in Nepal. Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki/CIFOR
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A large patch of lemongrass grows in the Chisapani Community Forest in Nepal. Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki/CIFOR

In Bhutan, a small Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, it is often the middle road that is chosen. A new paper, part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), looks at the connections between forests and Gross National Happiness in the country.

There’s the middle path of the country’s religion and its emphasis on spiritual balance, symbolized in the prayer flags and pagoda tops that peek through the mountain trees. Then there’s the Lateral Road, the main highway that runs east to west through the middle of the country, where Robin Sears, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) consultant and an Assistant Professor at Hampshire College, rides her bike when she visits the area to research forests, villages and governance.

A middle-road approach also applies to the country’s self-designed development index: Gross National Happiness (GNH), conceptualized by the fourth king in the 1970s as a more holistic replacement for the standard measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Enshrined in Bhutan’s Constitution in 2008, the GNH index now serves as a yardstick for every piece of legislature introduced in the country, ensuring a balance of its four pillars of environmental conservation, cultural preservation, equitable socioeconomic development and good governance.

“It’s so wonderful that GNH looks at a balance of socioeconomic and environmental issues,” says Sears. “It’s structured into policymaking processes. Every proposal for development and budgets and policy has to go through the GNH Commission to see if it meets balanced requirements. It mixes people from different sectors together.”

Often, the pillars of GNH work like dominoes falling into one another. A community’s good relationship with the environment leads to the preservation of their culture, which moves governance to help support the environment through proper forest ecosystem practices. Environment-based socioeconomic development then occurs, and so on.

A man expresses his emotions in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Moses Ceaser/CIFOR

Until now, however, very little research has been done on these chain reactions, and specifically the relationship between GNH and forestry. Along with a team of five other scientists, Sears recently published a paper looking at existing literature on GNH and assessing how forests tie into this framework.

“I’d been going to Bhutan since 2009, and I’d always heard from my colleagues that we didn’t have evidence for this or that,” says Sears. “So I was sitting with some of them talking over dinner one night, and we realized that we first needed to define what we needed evidence for, what were the most critical issues in forest ecosystem services in Bhutan. And so we said, ‘Let’s do this thing!’”

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

SETTING THE TARGETS

The researchers set out to define a baseline for how forests are linked to the country’s developmental direction.

“Everything we do has to feed into government plans,” says Sears. “You can’t come here to study butterflies because you love butterflies. We have to come and do stuff that Bhutan needs.”

The nation’s needs are outlined in the government’s Five Year Plans, which set targets and budgets across all major sectors for the coming period. The current plan, covering the period 2013-2018, includes four priority areas related to forest ecosystem services, the most important of which is enhancing water security through a national water resource management plan.

“The big thing that the government has been pushing in the last four to eight years is watershed management. How do we reduce soil erosion? How do we keep rivers clean?”

But there is little research as yet on water issues, such as quality, quantity, watersheds and the effects of hydropower infrastructure. For instance, Bhutan’s dams face issues of flooding and adverse effects on biodiversity, like fish, algae, flora and rare fauna like white-bellied herons.

Furthermore, as water supplies change with shifting precipitation patterns and the melting of Himalayan glaciers due to climate change, studies on water regulation and payment mechanisms for water protection are set to become increasingly important. The new study lays out what knowledge exists on these topics so that the gaps can be filled in.

Another priority for this five-year period is strengthening livelihood opportunities for forest-based communities – in other words, increasing the incomes of those who depend on forests. If this is successful, forestry authorities can use the success stories to push harder for the maintenance of forests in the face of competing interests for development of land into ranches or cash-crop plantations.

“As well as boosting the productivity of forests, we want to create and promote a market for forest products. If we can show that standing forests are valuable, that’s the way to keep them around,” says Sears.

Read more: How are China, Nepal and Ethiopia restoring forest landscapes?

SAVING THE SACRED

For centuries, Bhutanese communities have closed access to mountains on a rotating basis, believing that this keeps them in the good favor of local deities. This practice, known as Reedum, coincides with the warmer seasons, which are most conducive for forest growth, in turn promoting forest preservation and preventing natural disaster. Another tradition, Tsadum, restricts grazing on certain landscapes in a similar way.

“Such practices are important to enhance a wide range of regulating, cultural and supporting services, although the provisioning services may be limited due to the restricted use,” says CIFOR scientist Himlal Baral, a coauthor of the paper.

Whether a lack of landslides and flash floods are considered a result of the gods’ good graces or of scientifically sound practices, the fact is that Reedum, Tsadum and other sacred customs have long been effective forest and landscape management techniques. However, they have no formal place in law, and therefore are becoming endangered.

Sonam Phuntsho, another coauthor of the paper, and a senior researcher at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research, says there is a lack of data on how much forest in Bhutan is managed under customary law, or how many sacred groves still exist. Social changes are also impacting their survival, he adds.

“There are ongoing threats to sacred groves and associated ecosystem services due to changing social dynamics and economic development,” he says.

Sears agrees. “In the last 20 years, policy has shifted, and customary norms and rules have been banned or ignored and replaced by scientific forestry,” she says. “Cultural preservation, which includes spiritual rules and beliefs, is going to be forgotten if people cannot practice.”

Sears and her fellow scientists hope their research leads to the gathering of evidence on the effectiveness of traditional land management practices to share with the government, ultimately seeing these social norms incorporated into policies.

One reason awareness of such practices has disappeared from government offices is the increased urbanization of Bhutanese communities, leading to an erosion of culture and, ultimately, landscapes.

People harvest rice in Dintor, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Photo by Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR

For the past two decades, tree cover has increased by 0.2 percent annually, but not always for good reason. Sears explains that migration is dually caused by factors of push and pull. First, threats posed by wildlife – elephants eating crops and knocking down houses, bears eating livestock, wild boars digging up fields – result in a huge loss of income that pushes people off of their farms. At the same time, the allures of better education and easier work pulls people into the capital Thimphu or other developed areas.

As villages empty of their workers, farmland is increasingly unattended, allowing forests to close in on homesteads, bringing more threats of wildlife and forest fires.

“Food security is a big problem for the government,” says Sears. “Who will grow food? There’s a big push in the next five-year plan to get people back to the farm by modernizing farming, introducing new technologies and greenhouses. The government also wants to go all-organic by 2020 and make rural life more viable with increased phone coverage, better schools and roads.”

THE HAPPINESS CONNECTION 

The domino effect theorized by Sears and colleagues – with cultural preservation leading to good governance, which drives environmental conservation, and in turn leads to equitable socioeconomic development – was strongly supported by their review of the literature. This backs the idea that forests and their ecosystem services contribute to the four pillars of GNH, supporting Bhutan’s happiness-based development goals.

Although finding empirical evidence of the direct links between forests and GNH was challenging, “the strongest connection in this regard was found in relation to the pillars of good governance and socioeconomic development, particularly through community-based forestry schemes,” says Baral.

As communities act to restore mountainous forest landscapes, boosting essential ecosystem services and protecting from risks of disaster, more research is needed to determine the effects on national development, as defined by the happiness index.

Judging from the research results so far, it could well be a middle path worth taking.

By Gabrielle Lipton, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Himlal Baral at h.baral@cgiar.org or Robin Sears at r.sears@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 Republic of Austria.


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  • Agroforestry in landscape restoration for livelihoods, climate and ecosystem services

Agroforestry in landscape restoration for livelihoods, climate and ecosystem services


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The Agroforestry in landscape restoration for livelihoods, climate and ecosystem services Discussion Forum was held at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn on Dec. 20, 2017.

Inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals, the session focused on the accomplishments and future of agroforestry as a path toward sustainable landscape restoration. By offering a route to reconciliation between the frequently competing claims of agriculture and reforestation, agroforestry is playing an increasingly central role in policy-making.

The session aimed to achieve a vital exchange of knowledge on ecosystem functionality, biodiversity, livelihoods and climate change, among other topics. The forum demonstrated the potential dividends for human wellbeing offered by landscape restoration in developing countries.

The session was hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), with Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (HIVOS) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

This video was originally published by the GLF.


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

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


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This book discusses key lessons from various development stages of landscape stewardship for ecosystem services provision. It focuses in particular on agricultural landscapes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which have not featured prominently in existing literature.

Human use, overuse and neglect are degrading ecosystems, the very fabric which is producing ecosystem services that benefit human well-being, and which allowed natural capital to develop. Stewardships that might ensure ecosystem service provision in agricultural landscapes, are in reality extensively complex and comprise the interaction of social-ecological systems in a world ruled by economic and political feedback. In order to ensure their operationalization and sustainability, empirical cases of landscape stewardship for ecosystem service provisions in Africa and Asia show that incentive-based mechanisms, as a ways of governing the landscape, need to be fair to the actors involved as well as fulfil their main goal of providing ecosystem services efficiently.

A host of rich and diverse empirical cases are the result of more than a decade of field experience with Pro-poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) and Rewarding the Upland Poor for Environmental Services (RUPES) in Asia, two projects coordinated by the World Agroforestry Centre. This book highlights the gaps between the theory and the implementation of operational and sustainable ecosystem service incentive-based mechanisms on the ground. It provides and reviews arguments as to why specific forms of payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes (including pro-poor payments, rewards, and co-investment) can be viable approaches toward sustainable land-use practices.

To this end, this book:

  • Provides new insights that support development practitioners with appropriate leverage points so that they may increase the potential of payment for ecosystem service (PES) schemes to deliver the desired outcomes.
  • Stimulates debate among scientists and analysts about PES as a theory of change in the developing-world context and where new models or knowledge are needed.
  • Recommends appropriate interventions for policy-makers to apply PES as a tool for sustainable land governance and management in contexts where poverty is rampant, business activity is low and environmental funds need to be better targeted in providing ecosystem services.

The growing collection of chapters in the book can be viewed here:

Payment for Ecosystem Services


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

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


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In the eastern Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, culture, society, economy and environment are linked in the development framework of Gross National Happiness (GNH). In this literature review, we highlight the relationships between forests and Bhutan’s development framework and current priorities, identifying plausible causal pathways. Due to the mountainous nature of this country, our particular interest is in the impacts of upstream forest activity on downstream stakeholders.

Our hypothetical framework identifies specific causal pathways between forests and the four pillars of GNH (environmental conservation, cultural preservation, equitable socioeconomic development and good governance), and evidence was sought in the published literature to test the hypothesis. While conceptual support for many linkages between forests and each of the pillars was found in the literature, evidential support specifically for Bhutan is limited. The strongest evidence is found for the role of forests in socioeconomic development and good governance, particularly through the community forestry program.

To develop incentive programs for forest conservation and restoration, such as payment for ecosystem services and pay-for-performance donor funding, the evidence base needs to be expanded for causal pathways between upstream forest condition and downstream security, particularly for services such as water regulation. The evidence should inform public policy and forest management strategies and practices.


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  • Challenges for developing Forest Stewardship Council certification for ecosystem services: How to enhance local adoption?

Challenges for developing Forest Stewardship Council certification for ecosystem services: How to enhance local adoption?


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The rise of ecosystem services (ES) as a conservation and management tool has changed the way forests are conceived, but so far its translation into management actions has been limited. In this paper, we discuss the development of certification of forest ecosystem services (FES) from the perspective of those implementing it at the local level. We focus on the lessons that emerged from applying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification framework at selected sites in Chile, Indonesia, Nepal and Vietnam.

Our results indicate a clear relationship between local and global levels in the development of FSC FES certification. Although the FSC already had a broad vision of ES, it was only through local-level learning within a specific pilot experiment that the vision evolved and resulted in more formal FES certification becoming part of FSC forest management certification. We also found that those sites where participatory approaches to management and decision-making were applied could work with an undefined vision of the future system, and still successfully design and implement management activities. However, overall the lack of specific vision and detailed information about future FES certification was problematic in attracting market interest in FSC certified ES.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.10.001


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  • Mechanisms mediating the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being and resilience

Mechanisms mediating the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being and resilience


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Human benefits from ecosystems result from complex interactions between ecological and social processes. People affect ecosystems’ capacity to deliver services that contribute to the well-being of humans and their resilience. The delivery of ecosystem services (ES) has often been considered as a linear and direct flow from nature to people without feedbacks or human inputs. We adjusted the widely used ES cascade to highlight how humans mediate each step in the ES delivery. We then applied the proposed framework to empirical field studies in Indonesia. We focused on the role of forested landscapes to increase rural people’s resilience to climate hazards such as drought and floods. We found that human actions determine benefits from ES through several mechanisms (ES management, mobilization, allocation-appropriation, and appreciation). These mechanisms are influenced by peoples’ decisions along the ES cascade, which depend on specific factors related to rules, assets, values, and spatial context. By facilitating or hindering ES flows, some stakeholders can determine who benefits from ES and influence the well-being of others. A better understanding of the mediating mechanisms, factors, and feedbacks in ES delivery can support the design of sound environmental assessments and sustainable land management practices.


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  • Local tree knowledge can fast-track agroforestry recommendations for coffee smallholders along a climate gradient in Mount Elgon, Uganda

Local tree knowledge can fast-track agroforestry recommendations for coffee smallholders along a climate gradient in Mount Elgon, Uganda


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Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is economically important for many smallholder farmers in the Mount Elgon region of East Uganda, but its production is increasingly threatened by climate change. However, ecosystem services (ES) provided by companion trees in coffee agroforestry systems (AFS) can help farmers adapt to climate change.

The objectives of this research were to develop agroforestry species recommendations and tailor these to the farmers’ needs and local context, taking into consideration gender. Local knowledge of agroforestry species and ES preferences was collected through farmer interviews and rankings. Using the Bradley-Terry approach, analysis was done along an altitudinal gradient in order to study different climate change scenarios for coffee suitability. Farmers had different needs in terms of ES and tree species at different altitudes, e.g. at low altitude they need a relatively larger set of ES to sustain their coffee production and livelihood. Local knowledge is found to be gender blind as no differences were observed in the rankings of species and ES by men and women.

Ranking species by ES and ranking ES by preference is a useful method to help scientists and extension agents to use local knowledge for the development of recommendations on companion trees in AFS for smallholder farmers.


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  • A picture paints a thousand words for Smart Tree-Invest project

A picture paints a thousand words for Smart Tree-Invest project


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Getting behind the camera enables farmers to express their perspectives and assess their land in a creative and engaging way. 

The Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project focused on improving the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers through the promotion of climate-smart, tree-based agriculture in three countries by reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) project, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), recently completed its three-year journey.

Among the most innovative aspects of the project was Photovoice, a participatory research method that saw cameras provided to farmers in the project’s field sites.

Read more: Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

“The main objective was to help in identifying and understanding the vulnerability and adaptive capacities of smallholder farmers to climate change and variability in Ho Ho-subwatershed as a project site, through photos that reflect local perceptions and knowledge on vulnerability,” said Tran Ha My, communications staff member for Smart Tree-Invest in Vietnam.

“Photovoice is also a different approach to share farmers’ insights and experiences, which helped the project and local stakeholders to develop more appropriate solutions for enhancing livelihood and environmental resilience in the subwatershed,” she added.

The benefits of the approach were twofold. The farmers had a creative way to express their perspectives, could better understand their vulnerabilities and capacities and more actively participated in discussing issues related to their land. Meanwhile, the researchers also collected baseline photographs of the landscape in the process.

See the baseline photographs for Buol in Indonesia, Huong Lam in Vietnam and three sites in the Philippines

“Using photos in focus groups and a video baseline survey puts faces to the once-anonymous ‘stakeholders’ of a project. They give a more personal dimension to all the figures and statistics and help show what farmers really need and how researchers can help,” Amy Cruz, communications staff member for ICRAF in the Philippines, wrote early in the life of the project.

The personal dimension was clear in the results, which showed smallholders’ land through their own eyes. Later, impact photos displayed improvements in the farmers’ livelihoods through knowledge gained from the project.

“Photovoice is a process that allows more nuanced capturing of the important elements in a landscape by letting farmers themselves decide specific areas to photograph. We asked them to capture two of their areas that were most vulnerable to climate change, two of their resources and two of their coping strategies. Aside from documentation of the landscape and the farmers’ perspectives, the photos were used in discussion groups to further draw out opinions of the landscapes in their respective villages,” Cruz explained.

“Nearly all the farmers identified sloping areas on their farms as the most vulnerable — they were usually flooded during rains — and the crops as their resources. There was, however, a variety of coping strategies mentioned by the farmers when discussing the photographs.

“Some said they did not do anything when the land flooded; they just waited for the waters to recede. Others said that they did, or planned to, use contouring on their fields to counter erosion. Quite a few also used trees as boundaries and windbreaks,” she added.

See the impact photos from Indonesia and Vietnam

The photographic results were used in focus group discussions with participants and with other farmers who did not take photos themselves. Through conversations over the results, the farmers were all able to agree on common issues that they faced.

“Photovoice provides an initial glimpse of the vulnerabilities of the farmers,” Cruz said in a separate blog. “While it is not enough to give a complete measure of vulnerability, it is an effective way to start the discussion. The farmers analyze and express their perceptions, while the researchers draw evidence from the photos and discussions with the farmers. Literature review and quantitative methods of vulnerability assessment could then be used to validate these findings.”

By looking at the bigger picture, smallholders and researchers worked creatively and more effectively toward climate-smart farming systems.

Read more:

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


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund. This project was  supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).


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  • Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services

Smart use of trees: Co-investment scheme improves livelihoods, maintains ecosystem services


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A woman inspects buds on a tree as part of the Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia project. Photo by ICRAF
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A woman inspects buds on a tree as part of the Smart Tree-Invest project in Indonesia. Photo by ICRAF

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) recently marked the end of its Climate-smart, Tree-based Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project with a closing event in Jakarta. 

Smart Tree-Invest, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), worked in watersheds in Buol, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia; Lantapan municipality, Bukidnon province, the Philippines; as well as Ha Thinh and Quang Binh provinces in Vietnam.

The project, which ran from 2014 to 2017, aimed to improve the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers through the promotion of climate-smart, tree-based agriculture in the three countries, aimed at reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

It did so by developing co-investment models that involve smallholders as ecosystem service providers while local governments and the private sector invest as ecosystem service beneficiaries.

Based on diagnostic studies of needs and opportunities in each country, the project introduced novel tree-planting schemes to improve the quality of home gardens, smallholders’ plantations, riparian and sloping land — and ultimately the quality of the environment and local livelihoods.

The process of identifying opportunities as well as new schemes for using resources available locally have been adopted by local governments in the three countries, overcoming their initial skepticism based on past ‘project’ experience. Moreover, toward the end of the project, private sectors were eager to join in initially monitoring ecosystem services in their sites in Indonesia, supporting market access for smallholders in Vietnam, and starting the initial incentive flow in the Philippines.

FTA researcher Beria Leimona speaks at the Smart Tree-Invest project’s closing event. Photo by Sidiq Pambudi/ICRAF

Smart Tree-Invest was the first project to explicitly pilot the development of Co-investment in Ecosystem Services (CIS) schemes, a concept that emerged from earlier Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) ideas. More than 600 farmers from the three countries were involved in co-investment activities.

Watch: An introduction to the Smart Tree-Invest project

FTA researcher and ICRAF ecosystem services specialist Beria Leimona, who was the overall leader of Smart Tree-Invest, noted the similarities between the three countries.

“We chose these sites because we work closely with the International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD [which had established a presence in the areas through previous projects] and all of the sites are remote, and they are more or less the ‘poorest of the poor’,” she said.

The Lantapan watershed had previously hosted an investment in environmental services project. There was also investor interest in the areas in terms of the private sector, including a major hydropower company in the downstream. It was the first time co-investment had been implemented on the ground.

The area “had been degraded to some extent,” Leimona said. ICRAF has had a presence in Lantapan for quite some time, she explained, beginning with the Landcare initiative in the 1990s.

“With Landcare, we saw the potential: we gave the awareness [about tree planting], but what sort of incentives would make them want to sustain the pilot?”

Following that was the Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services (RUPES) project with its incentive system for farmers.

Researchers subsequently “added information about what type of ecosystem services farmers and outside beneficiaries could get if they planted trees on their farms, which was in this case the watershed functions — increasing water quality for the company and also reducing erosion from farmland.”

“Through Smart Tree-Invest, we wanted to get more stakeholders involved in linking development programs with well-measured conservation objectives to result in green-growth scheme in their jurisdictions, including IFAD as the development agency and particularly the district and provincial government,” Leimona said.

Read also: 

A farmer shows off cacao pods growing on a tree as part of the project. Photo by ICRAF

Buol in Indonesia and Ha Tinh in Vietnam were more remote than the Philippines site. There was “almost no private sector,” Leimona said, adding that there was also less interest from business and infrastructure was less supportive.

She put this down to the area not being “sexy” or high-profile like locations such as Kalimantan, leading to almost no projects occurring there.

The silver lining was that “the enthusiasm of the local government was very high because they were quite eager to see what happened.”

Among the other notable differences between the sites were that in terms of the landscape structure, Vietnam did not have a mixed system or agroforestry. That stemmed from land-use policy, said Leimona, whereby farmers must follow government requirements on what to plant on their land.

In Buol, agroforestry existed with crops such as cacao, coconut and candlenut, Leimona explained. However, it had not been commercialized and was not well managed. “People didn’t think it could be a source of future profits,” she said, adding that farmers previously concentrated more on their patchouli or paddy fields.

Among other approaches, the project used the Capacity Strengthening Approach to Vulnerability Assessment (CaSAVA) framework, which ICRAF developed. The participatory approach of CaSAVA helped the collection of local ecological knowledge from smallholders in Lantapan, according to researcher Kharmina Anit in the Philippines, and increased their awareness of the issues in their landscapes, encouraging practical adaptation solutions at the community level.

The project also provided best practices in support of the implementation of policies in each country.

In Buol, the local administration has committed to replicating Smart Tree-Invest activities including farmers’ learning groups and watershed and tree-planting monitoring. The project was implemented in two subdistricts in the Buol watershed, and the district administration is set to expand activities to the Mulat-Lantika Digo watershed, using its own funding.

FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk (left) poses for a photograph with members of the Smart Tree-Invest Vietnam team. Photo by Sidiq Pambudi/ICRAF

The administration has requested ICRAF’s support through continued technical assistance as it replicates the project activities after the project’s end.

Watch: Impacts of Smart-Tree Invest project after 3 years

In summing up the project’s impacts and its relation to greater goals at the closing event in Jakarta, FTA scientist Meine van Noordwijk said it was “not only about healthy food but also healthy farmers and healthy forests […] in the frame of climate change.”

Unlike management systems that require results to be outlined beforehand and achieved, Van Noordwijk added, Smart Tree-Invest made a commitment and then awaited the impacts. The “open-ended” learning approach fit into existing structures of regulations and funding mechanisms, as well as working within local contexts.

“[This] provided food for thought on how we may see one object from different perspectives, and end up with different results,” said ICRAF ecosystem services specialist Sacha Amaruzaman. “Professor van Noordwijk reflected on the different characteristics of three country sites; how the similar start in each site through the application of the CaSAVA framework ended up with different co-investment schemes.”

“Clarification of the issues, weighting the trade-off between options and considering context are the three actions required to achieve development goals,” he added.

The partnerships formed with governments and other stakeholders stand as testament to this, as does the continued commitment in the sustainability of the project.

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


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund. This project was  supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).


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  • Nepal’s ecosystems: Aiming for new heights

Nepal’s ecosystems: Aiming for new heights


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Cooperative members hold forage tree saplings at Rupa Lake in Nepal. Photo by Neil Palmer/IWMI
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A woman participates in reforestation efforts around Rupa Lake, Nepal. Photo by Neil Palmer/IWMI

Realizing local and global benefits from community-based forestry in Nepal.

Nepal is a country of vast extremes, from lowlands and forested plains to mountain ranges, and, of course, the iconic Mount Everest. With land altitude varying from as low as 70 meters to more than 8,800 meters above sea level, this small landlocked nation has the most dramatic elevation extremes in the world. Within these vastly differing landscapes lie unique ecosystems.

For the past four decades, Nepal has been on the leading edge of Community-Based Forestry (CBF), with 40 percent of the country’s 28 million people working to manage and help restore nearly a third of the country’s forested land.

These forests provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services to local communities including clean water, timber and firewood; as well as services like water purification and regulation; air regulation; biodiversity maintenance; seed dispersal; and greenhouse gas mitigation and flood control.

In the past, most of the research around CBF has been focused on how reforested areas can provide goods to help local communities.

Yet little research has been done on the effects and benefits of ecosystem services (ES). ES covers four basic services: 1) Photosynthesis support 2) Provisioning (i.e. wood, food and water) 3) Regulation (i.e. climate change and water quality); and 4) Cultural services (i.e. ecotourism).

Cooperative members hold forage tree saplings at Rupa Lake in Nepal. Photo by Neil Palmer/IWMI

New routes needed

In a recent study, researchers, including FTA scientists, from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and partner institutions, looked at how these services affect CBF and how this can have a positive impact within Nepal and around the world.

“Nepal has had many successes using the CBF approach with more than 30,000 community groups mostly in the mid-mountain region,” said the study’s co-author Kiran Paudyal, a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne.

“But while the country has recognized the potential of ES in poverty reduction, there is no practical plan at the moment to make it happen,” he added.

The researchers found that current policies and regulations are not flexible enough to allow for innovation. Instead, they focus on a narrow, subsistence approach with government decisions exclusively focused on timber and firewood production, a few forest products, and biodiversity conservation aimed solely at ensuring the protection of trees.

“There needs to be a focus not only on tangible goods, but on services that are intangible like carbon and water management. For example, a community may have rights to a tree, but it is unclear if they can sell the carbon credits from the tree,” said Paudyal.

What’s more, there needs to be some sort of compensation for the work people do to protect these ecosystems.

One solution is Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), which are incentives offered to communities in exchange for managing the land that provides ecosystem services. However, research has shown that in Nepal, as well as in a host of other countries, land tenure and ownership rights are making this type of compensation nearly impossible.

Tenure reform required

Paudyal said that an overarching ES approach could provide new opportunities for securing local tenure rights.

“What Nepal needs is a broader national policy and plan for tenure reform with improved local rights and capacity for rule enforcement, monitoring, and sanctions to ensure the sustainability of the approach,” said Paudyal.

This plan could be part of a national ES strategy that promotes international investment in ES management, builds the technical capacity of stakeholders, provides a legal framework, and harmonizes existing policies.

“The strategy should also recognize the role that communities play in managing Nepal’s natural resources and how ES, when correctly implemented, can contribute to reducing poverty and improve the economic well-being of these communities,” said Paudyal.

Women walk to a conserved wetland area on the edge of Rupa Lake. Photo by Neil Palmer/IWMI

The researchers also found that for the ecosystem services approach to work, they need to be mainstreamed into existing forestry related legislation, as well as National Parks and Wildlife laws. In addition, intermediary organizations, the private sector, and certification agencies all need to be established and strengthened.

Paudyal said that because ES is still in its early stages, there needs to be more awareness of the benefits of ES among government, private sector and communities alike.

In addition, the study shows that more training and the development of an ES knowledge bank alongside a network of experts from donor agencies, government, NGOs and civil society will help ensure success. This will, in turn, support the future development of government policies that support communities.

A good first step

Nepal has made considerable advances since the 1970s when forests were decentralized and the idea of community forestry rose in popularity due to the sense of crisis and environmental awareness growing globally. Now, ecosystem services are also on the rise.

“Ecosystem services such as timber production, firewood, and fresh water are declining in much of the world, but in Nepal, it is has actually increased in CBF regimes,” said Paudyal.

Pauydal said the research showed that this was largely due to the efforts of local people to convert degraded agricultural land and grasslands to forests. This in turn, improved water catchment values and the quality of water for irrigation and hydro-power.

“Nepal has made a good start. But we really need to understand the multiple benefits of ES in these communities. We don’t really know the full impact that ES can have on people,” said Paudyal.

As the study concludes, the trade-off between the growing need for wood and food and life-sustaining services is complex and further research is needed to systematically assess the supply, delivery, and values of services that come from these diverse ecosystems.

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

For more information on this topic, please contact Kiran Paudyal at kpaudyal@student.unimelb.edu.au or Himlal Biral at h.baral@cgiar.org.


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


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  • Ecosystem services from community-based forestry in Nepal: Realising local and global benefits

Ecosystem services from community-based forestry in Nepal: Realising local and global benefits


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Overview

Community-based Forestry (CBF) is now a popular approach for landscape restoration, forest management, biodiversity conservation and support for rural livelihoods worldwide. The Himalayan country Nepal has been at the forefront of CBF for over four decades, with almost 40% of the total population directly involved in protecting and managing more than 32% of the country’s forested land.

However, in the past, the focus of CBF in Nepal was the provision of goods for local subsistence, and there has been limited analysis of the role of CBF in providing ecosystem services (ES) from restored forest landscapes. Based on material drawn from a literature review and a stakeholders’ workshop, this paper analyses changes in Nepalese forest policies to provide a more holistic framework for CBF that provides a wider range of ES and to potentially underpin payments for ecosystem services in Nepal.

The analysis indicates that Nepal’s forest policy and practices are still dominated by a narrowly conceived notion of forest management that does not accommodate the holistic concept of ES. The study illustrates that CBF provides many ES from local to global benefits as result of forest restoration. For example, timber, firewood, food, and water have local importance, while climate regulation, flood/erosion control, and habitat improvement have global importance.

Many innovative cases are emerging in the long journey of CBF in Nepal that demonstrate more diverse management strategies, new forms of tenure rights and autonomy in institutional spaces. These can potentially provide a catalytic platform for the wider adoption of the ES framework in CBF regimes, in order to focus and reward forest management more directly for the provision of services such as water, biodiversity, climate regulation and recreation. Consequently, this study discusses the issues and challenges that are impeding the implementation of the ES concept in Nepal and suggests some ways forward.


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  • Ecosystem services from planted forests

Ecosystem services from planted forests


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A presentation by Himlal Baral, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).


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  • 2017 brings reorientation in landscapes research

2017 brings reorientation in landscapes research


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Photo: Kate Evans/CIFOR
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Photo: Kate Evans/CIFOR

By Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Science Advisor and Co-Leader Environmental Services, World Agroforestry Centre, Coordinator Flagship 4

In Flagship 4 Landscapes dynamics, productivity and resilience we will invest in 2017 in a few change of theory topics. The first is an event on March 21 and 22 on new insights in the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in the hydroclimate. We all know forests and trees are ‘cool’, but with the new insights and evidence this term gets new meaning, visit the event page and register soon.

We will also see the completion of a book full of case studies and perspectives on payment for ecosystem services. The introductory chapters are already online, further work is added regularly. It may change your idea on what PES is, how it can be used and what can go wrong. Its message is a change of theory, from a focus on economic efficiency to a more socially balanced co-investment.

A similar reorientation is coming out of the analysis of certification schemes across five major tropical commodities. Again a few papers are already online, others will be added as they have completed the external peer review trajectory. Further syntheses are expected to emerge this year that will argue that forest and trees are relevant for nutritional diversity.


Read also: Cool insights for a hot world: trees and forests recycle water


The currently dominant theory of change is based on landscapes as social-ecological systems, in which change is part of learning loops in which evidence, logic, innovation, political platforms and trade-offs all play their role. With the multi-layer reality of polycentric governance this is complex, with breakthroughs requiring considerable investment in social capital–plus a bit of luck. We engage in many places, and cannot yet be sure what the 2017 success stories will be–although our planners and funders are eager to find out.

Further synthesis of findings on qualitative and quantitative tree cover transitions will support the definition of theories of place within land-use systems typologies. These will serve to delineate extrapolation domains that are key to the generation of international public goods from place-based research.

The FTA Sentinel Landscape portfolio will be managed as part of FP4 and provide a 5% sample of area across the tropics, and 8% of people, 9% of tree cover and 10-12% of potential tree crop presence, with quantified biases across ecological zones, forest-transition stages and Human Development Index classification.

We have learned that coffee expansion in the water tower landscapes highlights contested ecosystem services that will deserve further attention.

We expect that a more systematic approach to the current policy interest in restoration will bring new progress, and will invest some time in 2017 in that type of learning by doing.

 


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  • Addressing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Together: A Global Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Projects

Addressing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Together: A Global Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Projects


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Authors: Rico Kongsager, Bruno Locatelli, Florie Chazarin

Adaptation and mitigation share the ultimate purpose of reducing climate change impacts. However, they tend to be considered separately in projects and policies because of their different objectives and scales. Agriculture and forestry are related to both adaptation and mitigation: they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and removals, are vulnerable to climate variations, and form part of adaptive strategies for rural livelihoods. We assessed how climate change project design documents (PDDs) considered a joint contribution to adaptation and mitigation in forestry and agriculture in the tropics, by analyzing 201 PDDs from adaptation funds, mitigation instruments, and project standards [e.g., climate community and biodiversity (CCB)]. We analyzed whether PDDs established for one goal reported an explicit contribution to the other (i.e., whether mitigation PDDs contributed to adaptation and vice versa). We also examined whether the proposed activities or expected outcomes allowed for potential contributions to the two goals. Despite the separation between the two goals in international and national institutions, 37 % of the PDDs explicitly mentioned a contribution to the other objective, although only half of those substantiated it. In addition, most adaptation (90 %) and all mitigation PDDs could potentially report a contribution to at least partially to the other goal. Some adaptation project developers were interested in mitigation for the prospect of carbon funding, whereas mitigation project developers integrated adaptation to achieve greater long-term sustainability or to attain CCB certification. International and national institutions can provide incentives for projects to harness synergies and avoid trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation.

Environmental Management, February 2016, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 271–282

 


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