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  • FTA Highlight No. 2 – Tree Seed and Seedling Systems for Resilience and Productivity

FTA Highlight No. 2 – Tree Seed and Seedling Systems for Resilience and Productivity


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Tree seeds and seedlings for planting purposes are the starting point from which farmers, foresters and others are able to grow trees. They are produced and made available through “seed systems”. These seed systems have been a major topic of work by FTA in the last decade because of the constraints faced by actors on the ground in obtaining tree-planting material corresponding to their needs and of good quality.

Growers do not always know or fully consider what trees to plant, and where, so that they are effectively matched to planting environments and purposes.

The problem of tree seed sourcing is becoming ever more acute due to the increased demand for seeds to meet now-massive global commitments such as the Bonn Challenge to forest landscape restoration and other tree planting initiatives.

Download the volume! [PDF]
As part of “FTA’s highlights of a decade,” a new series focusing on its main results since being established in 2011, the FTA program is now publishing the volume on Tree Seed and Seedling Systems for Resilience and Productivity.

FTA’s work on the topic seeks to address twin concerns: how to make available quality tree planting material; and how to ensure that tree seeds and seedlings are planted in the right places for the right purposes. If these concerns are met, and principles of good restoration practice are followed, the detrimental ecological effects that may be caused by inappropriate ‘restoration’ can be avoided and genuine restoration can be achieved.

Addressing the supply bottleneck is a key challenge to current global forest landscape restoration programmes becoming successful. To ensure supply it is necessary to realize the potential of many more rural organizations, small-scale private nurseries and local communities to effectively participate in tree seed systems.

Photo gallery

The recent greater focus on accountability in tree planting provides new opportunities to improve tree seed sourcing. ICRAF’s Genetic Resources Unit (GRU) conserves and supplies for research and direct use both tree seeds and seedlings; its field genebanks (see Figure 1) feature more than 80 tree species. The CATIE Forest Seed Bank in Costa Rica reaches more than 170 clients in 20 countries with tree seed. Both ICRAF and CATIE are managing partners of FTA.

Unfortunately, existing approaches do not meet the need for tree seed supply that is well matched to planting sites and purposes, or that addresses livelihood and environmental goals. Growers often end up planting whatever tree seeds and seedlings they can find. A lack of attention to what is planted in restoration initiatives, and the problems this may cause, is increasingly being raised as an important issue. Through its research, FTA seeks to improve on the poor current situation. For example, ICRAF’s Provision of Adequate Tree Seed Portfolios (PATSPO) project focuses on enhancing tree seed sourcing to support Ethiopia’s forest landscape restoration.

Recent preliminary work by FTA showed that the savings (through better survival rates of trees) and increased incomes (from increased production) from better seedling establishment and growth far surpassed the extra expense of quality tree seed sourcing in restoration programmes. More advanced calculations, including estimates based on African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) activities, suggested that an extra cost per seedling of less than 5% could generate more than USD 5 billion of additional income for tree growers.

The African Orphan Crops Consortium works to fill production gaps for 101 lesser-used food crops, including tree crops, that have potential to address nutritional deficiencies, by improving support to breeders. FTA researchers developed and implemented the supply of “fruit tree portfolios” — combined with other plant foods, these are sets of trees that supply required nutrients to local communities year-round. FTA also engaged in communication campaigns such as the From Tree To Fork, which aimed to raise awareness about the properties of underutilized species through the engaging use of graphics and fun messaging.

Rural resource centres (RRCs), also developed by FTA researchers, supply food tree seedlings and instruct people in tree propagation and other skills. FTA’s tree nursery work in Viet Nam has promoted the widespread planting of the indigenous son tra fruit tree (H’mong apple, Docynia indica), and has taught more than 1,000 participants about topics such as agroforestry systems.

FTA scientists applied the nurseries of excellence (NOEL) approach in Indonesia. A NOEL project on Sulawesi produced more than two million quality seedlings of more than 50 tree species.

An important part of FTA’s work is engaging with national partners to help develop policies that support more effective integrated tree seed systems. In work led by Bioversity International, FTA has developed a set of indicators for this purpose, and has applied them in seven countries in Latin America.

FTA tools for bringing existing knowledge resources together to support the better choice of what trees to plant, and where, include the Agroforestry Species Switchboard. Genetic sequencing for improved varieties is another prominent FTA research domain. Recently FTA scientists collaborated in the establishment of the reference genome of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). An interesting interview with the lead scientists of this paper is also available here.

Scaling up high-quality tree seed and seedling supply efforts will Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources

Download the publication to find out how more about FTA’s 10 years of research on tree seed and seedling systems!


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  • FTA Highlight No. 12 – Adaptation to Climate Change with Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

FTA Highlight No. 12 – Adaptation to Climate Change with Forests, Trees and Agroforestry


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Trees and forests are a vital part of any global effort to address climate change. They contribute to mitigation and to adaptation through the provision of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration.

Forests and trees are also affected by climate change, which threatens their critical function to underpin the adaptation of farming systems, other economic activities and the people who depend on these activities. Adaptation strategies are needed to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on forests and trees themselves and to enhance their contributions to adaptation of other sectors.

Download the volume! [PDF]

These two fundamental aspects can be summarized as “adaptation for forests” and “forests for adaptation.”

As part of “FTA’s highlights of a decade,” a new series focusing on its main results since being established in 2011, the FTA program is now publishing the volume on Adaptation to Climate Change with Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation have been one of the five components of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) since it was created in 2011, with clear links with the other components of the program.

The work of FTA has helped build a deeper understanding of how trees and forests will have an increasing importance in adapting to intensified climate variability, to buffer shocks and facilitating livelihood resilience in the future. FTA’s research and advocacy work also raised awareness on the vital role of trees as providers of environmental services in multifunctional landscapes and how this equilibrium is vulnerable to climate change.

The ecosystem products and services provided by forests and trees contribute to local climate regulation in rural and urban areas; protect coastal areas from climate extremes; protect watersheds; contribute to climate regulation at the regional and continental scale; and support the resilience of farming systems and households.

Photo gallery

Climate change is increasing the risks of fire.  FTA research has improved the understanding of the drivers of fire through interdisciplinary research, quantified their consequences in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and supported the elaboration of polices and measures to address them.

FTA researchers have helped develop methodologies and approaches to assess vulnerability, which has many dimensions: environmental, economic, social, political and geographic. The climate analog approach can support vulnerability assessments of agricultural systems. In forest- and tree-based landscapes, the different cultural, domestic and economic roles that women and men play affects their varying adaptive capacities.

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) explicitly relies on ecosystems for adaptation to climate change.

Techniques for studying the relationships between trees and climate change include dendrochronology, which provides information on the growth rates of trees and past climate conditions, and using the carbon isotope composition of riparian trees to assess ecological responses to climate change, as shown in Ghana.

An atlas developed for Central America draws current and future suitability maps for 54 tree species. A study of the impacts of climate change in Mesoamerica showed that 55–62% of current coffee production areas would no longer be suitable by 2050.

A sustainable supply of diverse high-quality tree germplasm is fundamental to the success of tree-based systems and adapting to climate change. AlleleShift R, developed under FTA, predicts how climate change would affect adaptive traits.

Since its inception, FTA has provided evidence of the potential of forests, agroforestry and trees to contribute to both adaptation and mitigation, and has analysed their synergies and trade-offs. In that aspect FTA contributed to shaping global narratives on mitigation and adaptation, especially to correct the imbalance in the global narrative that often depicts forests and trees mainly having a mitigation role, when in fact the paradigm should be inverted as forests and trees have a major fundamental to play in adaptation of other sectors: farming, water, energy, cities, etc.

FTA research has also emphasized the key contribution that forests and trees can make to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to the synergies between climate action and the achievement of the SDGs.

FTA has in particular helped bring to the forefront of the international agenda the many ways in which, forests, trees and agroforestry contribute to food security and nutrition and to household resilience to climate change. FTA managing partners have developed decision support tools such as the Capacity-Strengthening Approach to Vulnerability Assessment (CaSAVA) and the software ShadeMotion, a useful way for teaching agroforestry at all levels.

FTA promotes the application of integrated ecological, economic and social principles can contribute to the resilience of smallholder farming systems, including climate-smart agricultural adaptation as a farm diversification method.

There is increasing recognition of the need to consider landscapes as a level of implementation for climate policies, including for REDD+. It provides opportunities to best implement adaptation and enhance synergies between adaptation and mitigation and with other SDGs. of the relationship between governance and adaptive capacity in Africa examined risks and potential solutions.

Download the publication to find out more about the the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in adaptation to climate change and FTA’s fundamental research.

Published volumes until today include:


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  • FTA Highlights Series Launched at GLF Climate/COP26

FTA Highlights Series Launched at GLF Climate/COP26


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Keynote speakers presented on 6 of FTA’s core work domains and how 10 years of research have translated into concrete impact

The first year of the U.N. Decade of Ecosystem Restoration also marks the completion of a 10-year cycle for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). To celebrate, FTA announced its new series, “FTA Highlights of a Decade, 2011-2021,” during a side event of GLF Climate: Forests, food, finance – Frontiers of Change. The webinar spotlighted FTA’s past achievements and underlined the critical importance of FTA’s research for the future.

“We are very pleased to present our results from the last 10 years, showing the impact that research can have,” said Robert Nasi, Co-Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF). “Our work shows that forests, trees and agroforestry can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, livelihoods and biodiversity.”

DOWNLOAD FINAL AGENDA

Scientists at the digital event on Nov. 5 presented emblematic examples from six of the 18 volumes in the highlights series, which was officially launched the week after. FTA’s work has helped frame current agenda items as outlined in the U.N. Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) and most importantly the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was concomitant to our webinar.

The full event can be replayed here:




 

Now, at the close of FTA’s decadal studies, the fruits from this labour are becoming clear. Six keynote speakers opened the conference with highlights on:

  1. Seed genetic diversity: ICRAF senior scientist and FTA Flagship 1 Leader, Ramni Jamnadass, spoke on the importance of diverse seeds for effective tree planting projects and landscape restoration, reminding the audience that “a mighty tree starts from a seed. If you put garbage in, you get garbage out.” Such diversity is particularly important to fit the needs of smallholders and support adaptation to climate change.
    Volume to be released
  2. Trees on farms (TonF): Over the past decade, FTA engaged in numerous agroforestry initiatives to improve livelihoods and the environment. Eduardo Somarriba, the FTA focal point from CATIE, presented a relevant case from Honduras, where “living tree fences” are used to pen livestock and encourage rotational grazing. Scaling up these fences created with trees could improve the ecosystem and livelihoods for farmers who could use the trees’ resources for additional income generation while contributing to climate change mitigation.
    Volume to be released
  3. REDD+: FTA has conducted comparative research in more than 22 countries with the intent of providing evidence-based knowledge and tools for countries to better measure and monitor their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These programs “allow country partners to develop efficient, equitable and effective policies and practices,” said CIFOR senior scientist and FTA-Flagship-5 Leader, Christopher Martius.
    Volume 11 available here!
  4. Value chains: Scaling up sustainable value chains and certification schemes can create new problems for smallholders if they do not have equitable access to resources, noted Bas Louman, the FTA focal point from Tropenbos International (TBI). To better understand these relationships, “we propose a systems approach linking landscapes to value chains and not looking just at landscapes or value chains,” he said.
    Volume 10 available here!
  5. Gender and social inclusion: Successful landscape initiatives must also work for women, said Marlène Elias, the FTA Gender focal point from the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT. Over the last decade, FTA’s work has had incredible impact, proving that effective and sustainable landscape management can support social inclusion. “The innovations that we propose aim to lift the barriers in forestry and agroforestry landscapes,” said Elias, so that women, Indigenous Peoples and other minority groups have equitable access to resources, assets, income and decision-making power.
    Volume 15 available here!
  6. Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR): CIFOR senior scientist, Manuel Guariguata, acknowledged that FLR is about more than just tree planting. Rather than being a goal, FLR is a means to achieve many goals that optimize ecosystem functions along the forest transition curve. Landscape restoration also implies multistakeholder collaboration at every stage. These understandings are summarized in the six principles of FLR.
    Volume 4 available here!

The introduction to the series, as well as the volumes on tree biodiversity conservation, wild meat and monitoring & evaluation are also available. More will be published in the coming weeks.

Following these interventions, the audience was asked which types of forest and tree-based innovations were most important for the future. The poll results showed that 45.7% of respondents felt more should be done to improve social inclusion (including poverty eradication) through forest and tree-based initiatives.

Next, a panel of stakeholders at the national and international level discussed how FTA’s decade of research could light the way forward. The distinguished line-up included Malanding Jaiteh, advisor to the Minister of Environment of The Gambia. “Much of what we are trying to do [in The Gambia] is to raise people’s livelihood systems by promoting the development of natural-resource-based enterprises,” said Jaiteh. He explained that the Ministry needs expert knowledge about tree diversity and seed quality to implement projects that are socioeconomically feasible and sustainable. Research from FTA scientists helps fill these gaps.

Li Yanxia, FTA-management-team member from the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), further highlighted three unique benefits that INBAR has received from the organization’s partnership with FTA: its unique focus on development, its capacity-building support and its platform for knowledge exchange. The Head of Embrapa Forestry, Brazil, Erich Schaitza, similarly shared how FTA facilitates his organization’s work. “FTA’s goals match very much with ours,” he said. “Working with them is a good opportunity to have our voices heard and to learn from other countries in the network.”

Natural rubber-producing countries also stand to benefit from FTA’s knowledge. “We have worked very closely with FTA since June 2020 to study how we can adapt natural rubber plantations to climate change,” said Salvatore Pinizzotto, the Secretary General for the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG).

The partnership will also be hosting its final event, “10 Years of FTA Research for People and the Planet,” on Dec. 9. Join us!

FINAL EVENT REGISTRATION

SPEAKER PRESENTATIONS

  1. Rober Nasi opening speech
  2. Effective Tree Seed Systems – Ramni Jamnadass & Lars Gaudal
  3. Trees on Farms (TonF) for livelihoods and the environment – Eduardo Somarriba, Arlene López-Sampson, Norvin Sepúlveda, Edwin Garcia, Fergus Sinclair
  4. REDD+: fighting climate change with forest science Assessing ten years of REDD+ research – Christopher Martius (CIFOR) Amy Duchelle (CIFOR, FAO)
  5. Gender and social inclusion – Marlène Elias
  6. Forest and Landscape Restoration – Manuel R. Guariguata

BROWSE ALL THE FTA HIGHLIGHTS

Visit the main portal here

  1. Introduction: Ten Years of Forests, Trees and Agroforestry Research in Partnership for Sustainable Development
  2. Tree Seed and Seedling Systems for Resilience and Productivity (COMING SOON!)
  3. Conservation of Tree Biodiversity and Sustainable Forest Management
  4. Forest and Landscape Restoration
  5. Food Security and Nutrition
  6. Wild Meat
  7. Trees on Farms to Improve Livelihoods and the Environment (COMING SOON!)
  8. Biomass, Bioenergy and Biomaterials (COMING SOON!)
  9. Improving Rural Livelihoods Through Supporting Local Innovation at Scale (COMING SOON!)
  10. Sustainable Value Chains, Finance and Investment in Forestry and Tree Commodities
  11. REDD+: Combating Climate Change with Forest Science
  12. Adaptation to Climate Change, with Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (COMING SOON!)
  13. Multi-Functional Landscapes for Sustainable Development (COMING SOON!)
  14. Governing Forests, Trees and Agroforestry Landscapes for Delivering on the SDGs (COMING SOON!)
  15. Advancing Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
  16. Capacity Development (COMING SOON!)
  17. Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Impact Assessment
  18. The Way Forward (COMING SOON!)

This article was written by Daniella Silva.

This article was produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with ICRAF, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.


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  • FTA highlights of a decade: Ten years of forests, trees and agroforestry research in partnership for sustainable development

FTA highlights of a decade: Ten years of forests, trees and agroforestry research in partnership for sustainable development


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The Collaborative Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (CRP-FTA), one of the world’s largest research-for-development partnership, is completing a 10-year cycle as a CGIAR CRP. As a legacy of its work and to define the agenda for the years ahead, FTA is now launching a series of publications to set the spotlights on the program’s main results and achievements from 2011 to 2021.

“FTA Highlights of a Decade” series includes 18 chapters that illustrate FTA work and its impacts across a range of issues of critical importance for people and for the planet. The broad-ranging topics in the series showcases FTA’s evidence based work and impact orientation. FTA work, representing an investment of about USD 850m over a decade, was supported by CGIAR funders and bilateral projects.

The FTA Highlights Series:

  1. Introduction: Ten Years of Forests, Trees and Agroforestry Research in Partnership for Sustainable Development
  2. Tree Seed and Seedling Systems for Resilience and Productivity
  3. Conservation of Tree Biodiversity and Sustainable Forest Management
  4. Forest and Landscape Restoration
  5. Food Security and Nutrition
  6. Wild Meat
  7. Trees on Farms to Improve Livelihoods and the Environment
  8. Biomass, Bioenergy and Biomaterials
  9. Improving Rural Livelihoods Through Supporting Local Innovation at Scale
  10. Sustainable Value Chains and Finance
  11. REDD+: Combating Climate Change with Forest Science
  12. Adaptation to Climate Change, with Forests, Trees and Agroforestry
  13. Multi-Functional Landscapes for Sustainable Development
  14. Governing Forests, Trees and Agroforestry Landscapes for Delivering on the SDGs
  15. Advancing Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
  16. Capacity Development
  17. Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Impact Assessment
  18. The Way Forward

This list represents the order of the volumes in the series and not the time sequence of publication.

These highlight publications aim to illustrate the work of FTA in demonstrating the importance of forests, agroforestry and trees to give ways to the sustainable development agenda. When forests, trees and agroforestry are effectively used, managed and governed, they do improve production systems, ensure peoples’ food security, enhance livelihoods and help address climate change.

Each item in the series has two purposes. First, to showcase the research work of FTA and its partners, the influence of the program to deliver effective technical, social and institutional innovations for a range of stakeholders, including decision makers at the local, national and international level, connecting policy and practice. Second, in telling the story of FTA work on a topic, to shed a special “FTA” light on each topic’s story and its – often quite significant – evolution during a decade.

The topics of the volumes were chosen based on the operational priorities of FTA and the whole series is written by FTA scientists, elaborated under the overall guidance of an editorial committee and the oversight of the FTA Independent Steering Committee.

The first highlights to be released are the Introduction, Highlight No. 1, and the volume on Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR), Highlight No. 4.

Volume 1 – Introduction

FTA’s work aims to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. This means impacting positively the life of those estimated 1.6 billion people that depend on forests and trees for their livelihoods. But more broadly the ambition is to be relevant for every people on the planet, as in a way or another, we are all connected to trees and forests.

If the history of humankind is 300 thousand years old, the history of trees and forests is 300 million years old. But humanity has a complex relationship with trees. Our growing population shares the planet with approximately three trillion trees, which represents almost half of the trees present on the planet at the start of human civilization. Part of the reason for this tree loss is due to agricultural lands expanding. The more people there are, the more crop, livestock, fish, timber the world needs to grow, the more space it needs for cities and infrastructures. Does this necessarily need to be done at the expense of forests, and at the expense of trees in farming systems and of trees in landscapes?

FTA’s vision is that humankind can change the direction of its development trajectory to avoid a doomsday scenario, and towards a pragmatic path of sustainability that balances productivity and preserves the integrity of the environment. We call this path a “sustained agility”, where productivity is carried out in harmony with nature.

The dot in the figure below represents our current situation.

Underpinning the “sustained agility” scenario is a fine understanding of what trees and forest can bring to a range of challenges, if these resources are properly managed, and if the right governance is in place. Whether it is about the future of cities, of our energy system, of material resource systems, of our food systems, of our landscapes, and of our climate, forests, trees and agroforestry are – almost always – an ingredient to our most promising solutions. They are the key to our future.

 Making complex pathways easy to grasp

One of the pillars of the FTA program is the forest transition curve (the red line in the figure below) – whose very definition was coined by FTA scientists, and now worldwide known. Looking at the totality of the world landscapes at a certain point in time reveals a quite complex set of land-use patterns. But a new light is shed when we look at these patterns through time: the curve enables us to better understand and anticipate the consequences (both positive and negative), over time of economic development on forests, land use and the environment. It also enables to figure out the levers of action to prevent degradation of ecosystems and improve overall productivity and ecosystem services.

The “forest transition curve,” depicting the different stages of forests, after human anthropocentric activity. Different restorative activities such as native habitat conservation, natural forest regrowth, commercial tree plantations, woodlots, enrichment plantings, and agroforestry systems may be implemented across this transition, along with soil restoration and conservation measures (adapted from CGIAR 2011). More on restoration in our FTA Highlight No.4.

Compared to annual crops, trees have the particularity to force anyone to consider, inherently, the time dimension. What you do to forests now, will impact you for decades. The decision to plant a tree today, to organize differently your farm system with trees, is a decision that has consequences through time. An intervention that contains trees is therefore always a “change” on top of an evolution (in time). A change, on top of another change. This is why FTA uses the language of ‘Theory of Induced Change’ (leverage points, intervention) over a ‘Theory of Change’ (the forest transition curve representing the “baseline” evolution of the system due to various social-ecological processes and their drivers). This distinction clearly allows to identify leverage points to modify pathways of change and development, through context specific action.

Analytical framework for understanding people (centre) in landscapes interacting with livelihoods and policies, as part of a process in time where today’s options lead to tomorrow’s choices; ES = ecosystem services.

Download the volume! [PDF]
FTA, the collaborative Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry program is coming to an end in 2021 as a CGIAR CRP. However, it has depicted for itself a clear way forward, to include new, innovative, large-scale, and long-term research. The partnership has grown, it has energy, it is ready for another decade, towards 2030.

Download the Introduction to learn more about FTA’s efforts in 10 years of research in partnership. And stay tuned for more highlights! Each one will allow you to discover or rediscover – through FTA “eyes” – milestones in the forests, trees and agroforestry research advancement. A way to read about how knowledge, linked to peoples’ buy-in and power, well used can really make a change for our global agenda in sustainable development!

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Vincent Gitz, FTA Director


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