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What can be the role of Forests, trees, agroforestry during the COVID-19 food security crisis?

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Invaluable, but often overlooked, ecosystems produce micronutrient-rich foods

The Covid 19 pandemic is threatening food systems and global food security. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), which says the number of people facing crisis hunger is expected to almost double this year to 265 million.

Already, more than 820 million people do not get enough food to eat, and another 135 million people face acute hunger or starvation. Add to that, the economic destabilization caused by COVID-19, and another 130 million people are at risk of starvation by the end of 2020, says WFP.

The rapidity with which a health crisis transforms in a hunger crisis shows how fragile are our food systems to shocks of any nature. With this dire warning in mind, on June 3, the CGIAR Forests, Trees and Agroforestry Research Program (FTA) and partners will host a session in 2 parts at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), a three-day online conference where delegates will discuss the potential for sustainable food security in both the short and the long term through related research.

Forests, trees and agroforestry provide critical contributions to Food Security and Nutrition (FSN). All of these contributions are even more important in times of crisis.

Forests, trees and agroforestry provide nutrition dense foods such as fruits and nuts. They contribute to livelihoods and to the diversification of production and sources of income thus also increasing the resilience of households. They provide ecosystem services -water regulation, soil fertility and conservation, pollination, temperature regulation- that support farming systems and contribute to their adaptation to climate change. They are an essential component of sustainable and resilient food systems, contributing to the four dimensions of food security and nutrition both for the forest-dependent communities and globally.

The first part of the session will present some of the multiple ways that forests, trees and agroforestry contribute to Food Security and Nutrition, based on the most recent research results of FTA and its partners.  The second part of the session will delve into the potential of forests, trees and agroforestry in increasing the resilience of food systems and stability of Food Security and Nutrition.

Participants will reflect on some of the specific strengths of farming systems, value chains and livelihoods that integrate trees in their systems amid crisis, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The whole session will feature a mix of short presentations, videos, interventions from actors on the ground, panel discussions and questions and answers with the audience. We look forward in having you join our session!

Please note that FTA has been offering free tickets for the GLF Bonn 2020 event to anyone wanting to share their story on how trees have been fundamental in times of crises (draughts, famines, covid-19, etc.) for their livelihoods. If you wish to participate – contact us at CGIARFORESTSANDTREES [at] CGIAR [dot] ORG

Full concept note available here

Full panel here

See also the agenda in the Conference Platform (need to register to access it)

Session 01 [14h00-15h30] – Session 02 [15h45-17h15]

Knowledge products

Session 1

Priority Food Tree and Crop Food Composition Database: http://www.worldagroforestry.org/products/nutrition/index.php/home 

Publications

Dawson, I.K., McMullin, S., Kindt, R., Muchugi, A., Hendre, P., B Lillesø, JP., Jamnadass, R. (2019). Integrating perennial new and orphan crops into climate-smart African agricultural systems to support nutrition. The CSA Papers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92798-5_10

Fungo, R., Muyonga, J., Kabahenda, M., Kaaya, A., Okia, C. A., Donn, P., et al. (2016). Contribution of forest foods to dietary intake and their association with household food insecurity: a cross-sectional study in women from rural Cameroon. Public Health Nutr. 19, 3185–3196. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016001324

Golden, C. D., Fernald, L. C. H., Brashares, J. S., Rasolofoniaina, B. J. R., and Kremen, C. (2011). Benefits of wildlife consumption to child nutrition in a biodiversity hotspot. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108, 19653–19656. doi:10.1073/pnas.1112586108

HLPE. 2017. Sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7395e.pdf

Ian K.Dawson, Andrew Barnes, Ramni Jamnadass, Eric Danquah, Rita H. Mumm, Steve Hoad, Fiona Burnett, Iago Hale, Kai Mausch, Prasad Hendre, Wayne Powell, Cesar Revoredo-Giha. (2019). Breeders’ views on the production of new and orphan crops in Africa: a survey of constraints and opportunities. ICRAF Working Paper No. 296. World Agroforestry. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5716/WP19007.PDF

Ickowitz, A., Powell, B., Salim, M. A., and Sunderland, T. C. H. (2014). Dietary quality and tree cover in Africa. Glob. Environ. Change 24, 287–294. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.12.001

Jamnadass, J., Place, F., Torquebiau, E., Malézieux, E., Iiyama, M., Sileshi, GW., Kehlenbeck, K., E. Masters, E., McMullin, S., Dawson, I.K. (2013). Agroforestry for food and nutritional security. Unasylva 241, Vol. 64, 2013/2 http://www.fao.org/3/i3482e/i3482e00.htm

Jamnadass, R., McMullin, S., Iiyama, M., Dawson, I.K. et al. (2015). Understanding the Roles of Forests and Tree-based Systems in Food Provision. In Vira, B., Wildburger, C., Mansourian, S. (eds.). (2015). Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition. A Global Assessment Report. IUFRO World Series Volume 33. Vienna. 172 p. ISBN 978-3-902762-40-5, ISSN 1016-3263 http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/BIUFRO1502.pdf

Lo, M., Narulita, S., Ickowitz, A. 2019. The relationship between forests and freshwater fish consumption in rural Nigeria. PLoS ONE, 14 (6): 0218038. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218038.

McMullin, S., Njogu, K., Wekesa, B. et al. (2019). Developing fruit tree portfolios that link agriculture more effectively with nutrition and health: a new approach for providing year-round micronutrients to smallholder farmers. Food Security. 11, 1355–1372 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-019-00970-7

Powell, B., Ickowitz, A., McMullin, S., Jamnadass, R., Padoch, C., Pinedo-Vasquez, M., Sunderland, T. (2013). The role of forests, trees and wild biodiversity for improved nutrition-sensitivity of food and agriculture systems. Expert Background Paper for ICN+ FAO, Rome, Conference paper for Joint FAO/WHO International Conference on Nutrition 21 Years later (ICN+21).

Powell, B., S. Thilsted, A. Ickowitz, C.Termote, T.Sunderland, and A. Herforth  2015. “Improving diets with wild and cultivated biodiversity from across the landscape” Food Security 7(3): 535-554.

Rasmussen, L. V., Fagan, M. E., Ickowitz, A., Wood, S. L. R., Kennedy, G., Powell, B., et al. (in press). Forest pattern, not just amount, influences dietary quality in five African countries. Global Food Security. doi: 10.1016/j.gfs.2019.100331

Rasolofoson, R. A., Hanauer, M. M., Pappinen, A., Fisher, B., and Ricketts, T. H. (2018). Impacts of forests on children’s diet in rural areas across 27 developing countries. Sci. Adv. 4:eaat2853. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat2853

Rosenstock, T., Dawson, I.K., Aynekulu, E., Chomba, S., Degrande, A., Fornace, K., Jamnadass, R., Kimaro, A., Kindt,R., Lamanna, C., Malesu, M., Mausch, K., McMullin, S., Murage, P., Naomi, N., Njenga, M., Nyoka, I., Paez Valencia, A.M., Sola, P., Shepherd, K. and Steward,P. (2019), A Planetary Health Perspective on Agroforestry in Sub-Saharan Africa, One Earth, 1(3), 330-344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2019.10.017

Rowland, D., Ickowitz, A., Powell, B., Nasi, R., and Sunderland, T. C. H. (2017). Forest foods and healthy diets: quantifying the contributions. Environm. Conserv. 44, 101–114. doi: 10.1017/S0376892916000151

Tata, C.Y., Ickowitz, A., Powell, B., Colecraft, E.K. 2019. Dietary intake, forest foods, and anemia in Southwest Cameroon. PLoS ONE, 14 (4): e0215281. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215281

Vira, B., Wildburger, C. & Mansourian, S. (eds). 2015. Forests, trees and landscapes for food security and nutrition. IUFRO World Series, 33. https://www.iufro.org/download/file/18901/5690/ws33_pdf/

 

Session 2

Publications

Amy Quandt, Henry Neufeldt & J. Terrence McCabe (2019) Building livelihood resilience: what role does agroforestry play?, Climate and Development, 11:6, 485-500, DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2018.1447903

Dawson, I.K.; Powell, W.; Hendre, P.; Bančič, J.; Hickey, J.M.; Kindt, R.; Hoad, S.; Hale, I.; Jamnadass, R. (2019) The role of genetics in mainstreaming the production of new and orphan crops to diversify food systems and support human nutrition New Phytologist 224: 37-54 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15895

De Leeuw, J.; Njenga, M.; Wagner, B.; Iiyama, M. (2014) Treesilience: an assessment of the resilience provided by trees in the drylands of Eastern Africa. ICRAF

Duguma L, Watson C, Nzyoka J, Okia C, Fungo B. 2019. The Migration-Environment Nexus: The Situation in Northwest Uganda.World Agroforestry: Nairobi.

Duguma, L.; Duba, D.; Muthee, K.; Minang ,P.; Bah, A.; Nzyoka, J.; Malanding, J. (2020) Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Through the Lens of Community Preferences ICRAF.

FAO and CIFOR. 2019. FAO Framework Methodology for Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments of Forests and Forest Dependent People. Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/ca7064en/CA7064EN.pdf

FAO. 2016. Climate change and food security: Risks and responses. FAO, Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5188e.pdf

FAO. 2017. Addressing Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in National Adaptation Plans – Supplementary Guidelines, by K. Karttunen, J. Wolf, C. Garcia and A. Meybeck. FAO, Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6714e.pdf

Fauzan, A.U.; Purnomo, H. (2012) Uncovering the complexity: An essay on the benefits of the value chain approach to global crisis studies-a case study from Jepara, Indonesia in Suter, C.and Herkenrath, M.. World Society in the Global Economic Crisis: Volume 2011: 149-169)

Gitz, V. & Meybeck, A. 2012. Risks, vulnerabilities and resilience in a context of climate change. In A. Meybeck, J. Lankoski, S. Redfern, N. Azzu & V. Gitz, eds. Building resilience for adaptation to climate change in the agriculture sector, pp. 19–36. Proceedings of a Joint FAO/OECD Workshop, 23–24 April 2012. Rome, FAO.

Havyarimana, D.; Muthuri, C.; Muriuki, J.; Mburu, D. (2019) Constraints encountered by nursery operators in establishing agroforestry tree nurseries in Burundi Agroforestry Systems 93: 1361-1375 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-018-0246-2

HLPE. 2017. Sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition. A report by the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7395e.pdf

Ian K. Dawson, Andrew Barnes, Ramni Jamnadass, Eric Danquah, Rita H. Mumm, Steve Hoad, Fiona Burnett, Iago Hale, Kai Mausch, Prasad Hendre, Wayne Powell, Cesar Revoredo-Giha. 2019. Breeders’ views on the production of new and orphan crops in Africa: a survey of constraints and opportunities. ICRAF Working Paper No. 296. World Agroforestry. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5716/WP19007.PDF

Kiros Meles Hadgu, Badege Bishaw, Miyuki Iiyama,  Emiru Birhane, Aklilu Negussie, Caryn M. Davis, and Bryan Bernart, Editors. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Enhancing Resilient Agricultural Systems, Landscapes, and Livelihoods in Ethiopia and Beyond. 2019. World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya.

Libert Amico, A.; Ituarte-Lima, C.; Elmqvist, T. (2019) Learning from social–ecological crisis for legal resilience building: multi-scale dynamics in the coffee rust epidemic Sustainability Science: 1-17 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00703-x

Locatelli, B., Kanninen, M., Brockhaus, M., Colfer, C.J.P., Murdiyarso, D. and Santoso, H. 2008 Facing an uncertain future: How forests and people can adapt to climate change. Forest Perspectives  no. 5. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia. https://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/media/CIFOR_adaptation.pdf

Ndegwa G, Sola, P., Iiyama M, Okeyo I, Njenga M, Siko I., Muriuki, J.2020. Charcoal value chains in Kenya: a 20-year synthesis. Working Paper number 307. World Agroforestry, Nairobi, Kenya. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.5716/WP20026.PDF

Sayer, J.A.; Endamana, D.; Ruiz Perez, M.; Boedhihartono, A.K.; Nzooh, Z.; Eyebe, A.; Awono, A. (2012) Global financial crisis impacts forest conservation in Cameroon International Forestry Review 14: 90-98 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1505/146554812799973172

Sinclair, F., Wezel, A., Mbow, C., Chomba, S., Robiglio, V., and Harrison, R. 2019. “The Contribution of Agroecological Approaches to Realizing Climate-Resilient Agriculture.” Rotterdam and Washington, DC. https://cdn.gca.org/assets/2019-09/TheContributionsOfAgroecologicalApproaches.pdf

Sinclair, F.; Rosenstock, T.S.; Gitz, V.; Wollenberg, L (2017) Agroforestry to diversify farms and enhance resilience. In Dinesh D, Campbell B, Bonilla-Findji O, Richards M (eds). 10 best bet innovations for adaptation in agriculture: A supplement to the UNFCCC NAP Technical Guidelines: 14-19)

Van Noordwijk M, Hoang MH, Neufeldt H, Öborn I, Yatich T, eds. 2011. How trees and people can co-adapt to climate change: reducing vulnerability through multifunctional agroforestry landscapes. Nairobi: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). http://apps.worldagroforestry.org/sea/Publications/files/book/BK0149-11.pdf

Van Vliet, N.; Fa, J.E.; Nasi, R. (2015) Managing hunting under uncertainty: from one-off ecological indicators to resilience approaches in assessing the sustainability of bushmeat hunting. Ecology and Society 20: 7, DOI: https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-07669-200307

Vira, B., Wildburger, C. & Mansourian, S. (eds). 2015. Forests, trees and landscapes for food security and nutrition. IUFRO World Series, 33. https://www.iufro.org/download/file/18901/5690/ws33_pdf/

Vogt, N.D.; Pinedo-Vasquez, M.; Brondizio, E.S.; Rabelo, F.G.; Fernandes, K.; Almeida, O.T.; Riveiro, S.; Deadman, P.J.; Yue, Dou (2016 ) Local ecological knowledge and incremental adaptation to changing flood patterns in the Amazon delta; Sustainability Science 11: 611-623 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-015-0352-2

 

Further reading

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/59674/agricultural-intensification-has-fed-the-world-but-are-we-healthier?fnl=en

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/60872/superfood-from-cameroon-forest-scores-best-for-womens-health?fnl=en

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/53111/what-do-forests-have-to-do-with-food?fnl=en

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/58192/expansion-of-oil-palm-plantations-into-forests-appears-to-be-changing-local-diets-in-indonesia?fnl=en

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/52266/wild-nourishment?fnl=en

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/51201/forests-farming-and-food?fnl=en

https://www.foreststreesagroforestry.org/news-article/priority-food-tree-and-crop-food-composition-database/

http://www.worldagroforestry.org/blog/2019/11/29/year-round-micronutrients-ten-species-fruit-trees-are-better-just-few

http://www.worldagroforestry.org/news/using-agroforestry-address-seasonal-food-and-nutrient-gaps-communities-case-study-kenya

http://blog.worldagroforestry.org/index.php/2015/08/04/first-fruit-tree-portfolios-established-in-kenya-in-a-novel-approach-to-improve-year-round-nutrition/

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2017/11/23/improving-the-plants-that-africans-eat-and-breeders-neglect

https://blog.worldagroforestry.org/index.php/2019/05/17/eradicating-hunger-through-the-african-orphan-crops-consortium/

 

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  • Forest restoration and democracy: Making communities visible in Madagascar

Forest restoration and democracy: Making communities visible in Madagascar

Farming families in Boeny District, northwest Madagascar, rely on oxen for transportation and draft power. Photo by Steven Lawry/CIFOR.
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FTA communications

Landscape restoration will not be fully effective unless it contributes to social as well as ecological benefits.

Recent discussions at the Global Landscapes Forum in Accra, Ghana, which revolved around tenure policy and forest landscape restoration in Madagascar, shed light on some of the issues impeding progress toward achieving positive social and ecological restoration outcomes globally.

The Bonn Challenge and the U.N. Decades on Ecosystem Restoration and Family Farming are important global restoration initiatives. They are designed, organized and funded by U.N. agencies, major donor countries, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and participating national governments that have signed on to their ambitious goals for restoring degraded forests, farmland and ecosystems.

Within the framework of the Bonn Challenge, 28 African countries affiliated in the AFR100 (African Forest Restoration Initiative) network are committed to restoring 113 million hectares of degraded forests.

There is wide agreement among experts that communities must be consulted at every stage of the restoration planning and implementation processes.

But too often “consultation” takes the form of perfunctory discussions with communities, and meaningful decisions about land use practices, funding, program design, local governance, incentives, regulation, planned outcomes and distribution of benefits are made by external entities.

In reality, communities lack any real negotiating power, including the ability to reject proposals they consider unrealistic or not in their best interests.   This lack of community authority has significant consequences.

Manony Andriampiolazana, on left, interviews a leader in Ankijabe, Boeny District, Madagascar, forest restoration priorities.

 

Community members actively shape landscapes through decisions about how and where land is used for forests, agriculture, housing and other uses. As such, the outcomes of restoration efforts, positive or negative, are largely in their hands.  While government and NGO planners may recommend or even prescribe adoption of new land use practices and technologies believed conducive to restoration and sustainable use, ultimately communities decide whether or not the recommended practices are practical and realistic.

Because they live and work close to the resource management problems, land users are in the best position to make informed choices about how land can be best managed and sustainably used for environmental, economic and social benefit.  Research has found that practices imposed by outside authorities often lack technical credibility and rarely possess political legitimacy (McLain et al. 2018a).

This link between success in achieving positive outcomes and democratic decision-making is often overlooked in forest restoration programs.  Reference to “consulting” local stakeholders doesn’t come close to describing the decision-making authority local people should exercise.

Governments can create incentives for restoration, but whether or not incentives are appropriate or sufficient to motivate new land use practices is largely a matter for users of land and forests to decide.

Governments can attempt to discourage destructive land use practices through direct regulation and penalties.  But over-reliance on rule making and enforcement can prove unduly burdensome and coercive and turn communities away from a restoration agenda.

Lingering legacy

Colonial powers undercut or eliminated the ability of communities to make collective, democratic decisions about local land use by concentrating ownership rights over land, forests and pasture in the state.

While regulation carefully applied may have a role, communities should have the right to adopt restoration practices as a matter of free, collective choice, derived from secure rights to their local resources, including the right to decide how they are best managed.

CIFOR research found that tenure security motivates community investments in restoration (McLain et al. 2018b).

In much of Africa but also among indigenous communities in Latin America and Asia, customary tenure arrangements ensure access to land as a social right.

In other words, locally recognized systems of resource governance and rights are in place, but these systems too often are not recognized in statute or national law.

Madagascar, which aims to restore 4 million hectares of degraded forest by 2030, and other African governments, seek to “modernize” the property rights system by linking delivery of land rights to statutory instruments, such as title and certification.

Local people who believe that their customary rights are legitimate and secure may sometimes be vulnerable to loss of those rights because customary tenure arrangements are often not recognized under law.

Madagascar case study

Despite guidelines that Madagascar’s restoration plans reflect active engagement with communities and a variety of local stakeholders, research and experience suggests that Malagasy community-based land management institutions and practices are invisible to official authorities.

What is the evidence of this invisibility?

  • Insufficient recognition of community organizations and community resource rights in law.  Malagasy civil law recognizes in principle the right of communities to manage forests.  However, the law does not describe or grant the powers necessary for communities to carry out their management responsibilities.  In practice, community representatives are sometimes consulted by government officials on land use decisions, but community organizations lack sufficient autonomy to manage and enforce local land use initiatives.
  • Failure of projects to systematically engage with legitimate local representatives.  Local NGOs sometimes assert that they legally represent local communities, or hold and exercise rights on behalf of local communities, when communities would dispute that this is the case.
  • A focus on individual property rights instruments, such as titling or certification, which are recognized in law, while most forests and landscapes targeted for restoration are used and managed collectively.  Assignment of individual title to portions of areas historically used collectively further erodes collective rights.
  • The administrative infrastructure and technical resources needed to assign title and other forms of statutory rights in rural areas are very limited.  Poor people face additional barriers to securing title due to high survey and registration costs and limited knowledge of their rights and official procedures.  Moreover, there is evidence that subsequent to the initial titling, right holders do not register transfer of rights due to sale or inheritance, largely because the level of tenure security provided under the customary system is perceived to be adequate or the costs of doing so are considered to be too high. (Ayalew et al. 2019; Lawry et al. 2017).
  • Some individuals (often migrants) who have weak customary rights in places of new arrival may claim statutory title to land as a way of securing rights in ways not possible through the local customary system.  This can undercut the ability of the community to make enforceable collective land use decisions.
  • Lack of motivation for local people who have customary rights to seek land certificates or titles through the statutory system, because of the belief that their customary rights are secure.

Reshaping the terrain

In sum, the future of restoration may be limited if insufficient democracy and tenure insecurity are not addressed. Restoration practices that contribute to positive environmental and social outcomes are more likely to be taken up by local people when they have the degree of control over forests and trees necessary to reap the benefits of their investments.

It is imperative that the Bonn Challenge’s call for engagement with local communities in forest landscape restoration planning and implementation go beyond consultation and address the importance of community governance and secure community rights to land, forests and trees.

Restoring forests, restoring communities: How secure resource rights help communities in Africa restore forests and build local economies session panelists. From left: Chris Buss, IUCN forest programme; Patrick Ranjatson, ESSA-Foret, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar; Steven Lawry, representing the Center for International Forestry Research; Tangu Tumeo, Malawi Forest Department; and Priscilia Wainaina, World Agroforestry Center, Nairobi.

Community self-governance and legal recognition of resource rights are essential preconditions for community–led restoration.  Self-governance is a precondition to negotiating consensus about use practices within communities and rights enable and catalyze action.

In the absence of rights there is no assurance that local communities will have the certainty that the benefits of their labors and investments will accrue to them.

Customary rights can be recognized statutorily, and several African countries have implemented legal reforms that recognize customary tenure (including Botswana, Kenya, Liberia and South Sudan).  But Madagascar has not.

Until Madagascar and other countries take steps to design and implement laws that extend local self-governance and tenure security through, for instance, recognition of customary tenure, it is unlikely that landscape restoration at scale will occur.


By Steven Lawry and Patrick Ranjatson
This article draws on ideas discussed at the interactive session entitled “Restoring Forests, Restoring Communities,” held in Accra, Ghana, 29-30 October 2019, at the Global Landscapes Forum on Restoration in Africa.  Steven Lawry, senior associate at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), organized and moderated the session.  Patrick Ranjatson, professor at Mention Foresterie et Environnement de l’Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Antananarivo (ESSA-Forêts) led a discussion on tenure policy and forest landscape restoration in Madagascar.

Funding from Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and  the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) supported research in Madagascar in 2018-2019 on which this article was based.   PIM and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) supported the Global Landscapes Forum  interactive session where the research was presented. Opinions expressed are the authors’ alone.


References

Ayalew Ali D, Deininger K, Mahofa G, and Nyakulama R. 2019. Sustaining land registration benefits by addressing the challenges of reversion to informality in Rwanda. Land Use Policy. (In Press)

Baynes J, Herbohn J, Smith C, Fisher R and Bray D. 2015. Key factors which influence the success of community forestry in developing countries. Global Environmental Change Part A 35:226–38.

Lawry S, Samii C, Hall R, Leopold A, Hornby and Mtero F. 2017. The impact of land property rights interventions on investment and agricultural productivity in developing countries: a systematic review, Journal of Development Effectiveness, 9:1, 61-81,DOI: 10.1080/19439342.2016.1160947

McLain R, Lawry S, Ojanen, M. 2018a. Fisheries’ Property Regimes and Environmental Outcomes: A Realist Synthesis Review. World Development. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X17303091?via%3Dihub

McLain R, Lawry S, Guariguata M, Reed J. 2018b. Toward a tenure-responsive approach to forest landscape restoration: A proposed tenure diagnostic for assessing restoration opportunities. Land Use Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. landusepol.2018.11.053

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  • Innovating Finance Towards Sustainable Landscapes - A Report of the Session at GLF Luxembourg

Innovating Finance Towards Sustainable Landscapes – A Report of the Session at GLF Luxembourg

Innovative Finance for Sustainable Landscapes at GLF Luxembourg
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FTA communications

Last Saturday, 30 November 2019, in the prestigious European Convention Center in Luxembourg, an outstanding and diverse panel discussed innovative mechanisms and initiatives to upscale sustainable finance.

Carole Dieschbourg, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development of Luxembourg, in her opening speech of the overall GLF event made clear the expected outcomes of this day:

“It is not an investment if it destroys the planet!”

Her inspiring speech paved the way to an incredible Saturday of exchanges around the topic of sustainable finance.

A diverse panel

FTA organized a session bringing together seven people with different backgrounds, representing different actor groups in the finance flow: from investors to community, smallholders or SME. The event was live-streamed and is now available to replay.

“Our work provides social benefits to over 15,000 people” – Maria Teresita Chincilla Miranda, ACOFOP

“Eventually we created a fund […] It is now financing 13 different projects.”  – Elmer Francisco Méndez Hernández

The session was opened by the FTA Director, Vincent Gitz, who reminded that FTA has made innovating finance for sustainable landscapes one of its key operational priorities. Vincent underlined how the finance sector is actively seeking for initiatives that are green, bankable, responsible and inclusive. There is an urgency for these investments to take place and for concrete actions to go in the right way, he added. He suggested 3 mutually re-inforcing pathways necessary for the transition towards sustainable finance: (i) economic growth in the productive tropical landscape, (ii) together with care for the environment and climate issues, (iii) integrating social dimension inclusiveness especially for smallholders, women, SMEs and indigenous communities.

ACOFOP/FORESCOM who manages a total annual turnover of 8-10 million from over 500 thousand hectares of FSC certified sustainable forest management in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala. A success story exemplified through the convincing words of María Teresita Chinchilla Miranda and Elmer Francisco Méndez Hernández (senior advisor and CEO respectively), after which, the moderator Gerhard Mulder from Oxylus Climate Advisors, was able to elicit point of views and suggestions from all the panelists in a lively and deep debate.

Pauline Nantongo – Director of Ecotrust in Uganda, Edit Kiss – Director of Development and Portfolio Management of Althelia Funds, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Aybar of the Carbon Neutrality Business of Total SA, Hans Loth – Global Head UN Environment Partnership of Rabobank, Veronica Galmez of the Forest and Climate Team of the Green Climate Fund highlighted that innovation might introduce risk for investors that need to be quantified in order to be managed. Inclusiveness in financial endeavors was a major focus of the session – starting from ACOFOP’s example, but also looking at the panel itself.

“This panel is a dream come true!” – Gerhard Mulder, moderator of the session

Panelists listening to Pauline Nantongo’s experience

Gaps, risk and innovation

All panelists agreed on the importance of public funds to help reduce the risk of agriculture and forest investments in the tropics. Risk assessment and management was seen as one of the major challenges for upscaling access to finance, especially because in the agri-food sector risks are complex, need to be better understood and quantified in order to devise risk mitigation strategies and relevant financial tools.  “Understanding the different causes of deforestation is far from easy,” said Veronica Galmez.

The discussion highlighted a leitmotiv of the day: the huge gap between local financial needs and the international supply of finance. There is so much money available, but we have not found yet an efficient way to actually get that to the majority of agricultural and forestry practitioners. NGOs such as Ecotrust are good examples of possible pathways, but they are globally still few and even less investors have the patience or are prepared to take the risk to work with such organizations. As a result, both the farmers and SME working with Ecotrust and the communities organized through ACOFOP still rely mainly on public funds to strengthen their economic activities.

Hans Loth, representative of Rabobank indicated that even initiatives such as Ecotrust and ACOFOP are still relatively small and more aggregation is required, preferably involving local banks or other formal local financial infrastructures. For banks to change behavior, invest in such endeavors, for sustainable finance to upscale efficiently, strong internal leadership that drives willingness to innovate and go beyond traditional banking is required. Such innovations could then be proposed to investors and clients, with track record, documentation and assessed risk. Regulatory frameworks can also hinder innovative approaches, as they limit the options investors have to allocate funds.

“If you really want to scale up […] you really need to change the regulatory framework of banking.” – Hans Loth, Rabobank

Althelia is an example of such leadership and willingness to tackle innovation. Created in 2013 to make use of the opportunities around mitigation in the forest sector, it now invests not just in low carbon activities but also in increasing local capacities and market conditions for sustainable production.

“The idea was to innovate also on the investment side – how to deploy capital, because currently existing tools are not suitable for these types of projects.” – Edit Kiss, Althelia

As climate change is inevitable and touches everyone, innovation has to come from every sector. Juan Carlos Gonzalez Aybar strongly defended this position by illustrating the new business area of Total SA – the Carbon Neutrality Business. Interestingly, it operates also in the same landscape of Uganda as Ecotrust offering opportunities to invest together in sustainable, climate smart agriculture and forest conservation. Total, he said, as well as many other private companies, adheres to the Paris agreement and strive to find ways to comply with those targets, integrating them into their business models. Nature Based Solutions were agreed by the panelists as one way to move forward in emission reduction.

“Emissions come mainly from energy […] so a lot of the mitigation effort should come from that sector.” – Juan Carlos Gonzalez Aybar, Total

Pauline Nantongo shared a compelling story of how the NGO Ecotrust has been able to raise funding to support both productive activities and ecosystem services in a landscape heavily affected by the production of agro-commodities (sugar cane) and oil and gas exploitation.

“We work with local communities and we develop a community vision of how they would like to see their landscapes.” – Pauline Nantongo, EcoTrust

In conclusion: there are no bad people here

The interaction with the audience highlighted how some of the actors in the financial and energy sectors are now perceived as the “bad guys” from the general public. “There is always room for improvement,” said the moderator, indicating that we really need to change the way we enter into dialogue. People entered this global dialogue because we are all are seeking change. This fueled even more the discussion on how to renovate and innovate in a green and sustainable way, echoing the words of Minister Dieschbourg. It is clear that proper investments will need to generate value, without depleting the biggest capital we have: the Earth. Traceability, certifications, monitoring, etc. are all mechanisms that need to be in place for concrete sustainable finance.

The panelists, posing after the session

Having all these different actors sitting together in the same room was an exceptional event itself – hearing them talk was moving. “These connections are fundamental, ” stressed Gerhard. “There is a need for strong grassroot organisations such as EcoTrust and ACOFOP to identify opportunities and projects that benefit the landscape.” The session confirmed the enormous value of having strong local network and relationships, building on the trust of these local stakeholders. But this alone falls short. In order to scale up significantly, investors like Rabobank and Althelia are absolutely necessary to bridge the gap and connect them to sources of funding. Funding could flow through organizations such as FORESCOM or local banks or cooperatives. Finally, organizations such as GCF could provide a range of financial instruments that are fit-for-purpose for the local context.

The debate exemplified also that sustainable finance is a process, not an outcome or solution. The main questions are around how the process is organized and how to exploit the strengths of local institutions while empowering them.

“Numerous people work hard to make change, globally, but deforestation, inequality are still present. Landscape finance is still not impacting at scale.” With these words Gerhard Mulder remarked that doing better is not synonymous of doing the necessary, so he asked the panel to put in their words what would be the activity that – if they could implement – would be fundamental for change. The dream they would like to see come true. These were the answers:

  • De-risk smallholder investments – where I come from smallholders own 80% of the land and the agriculture – so we need innovations that remove, mitigate or reduce this perceived risk and allow them to access these financing sources. Pauline Nantongo
  • We have shown that we can set up profitable businesses, I would like to see banks acknowledging this and working with us. Maria Teresita Chinchilla Miranda, ACOFOP
  • We need to access funds much faster – frankly, we cannot wait 3 years to launch a fund. Edit Kiss, Althelia
  • De-risking, which is something we are already doing, and how this could upscale to a multi-stakeholder level, more and quicker. Hans Loth, Rabobank
  • Keep some acceptance to risk – as de-risking will not arrive soon – and maintain all these actors on the table discussing together, seeking change together. Juan Carlos Gonzalez Aybar, Total
  • We are running out of time, so we need to figure out how to include and embed all this ambition at all the different scales in making our decisions. So we need ambition and speed of change. Veronica Galmez, Green Climate Fund
  • Keep on focusing on the well-being of our communities. Elmer Francisco Méndez Hernández, FORESCOM

eDialogue – extended until 15th December!

The discussion also veered on the important study from FTA and Tropenbos International, currently in draft – being analyzed by a community of experts online through an eDialogue. The study identifies until now three innovative instruments that offer opportunities to unlock finance for SMEs, smallholders and communities while also addressing investors’ issues (e.g. rate of returns, risks, measurable impacts, etc.):

  1. Blended finance;
  2. Green bonds; and
  3. Crowdfunding.
Join the online eDialogue to access the document and the debate!

These mechanisms build on existing financial instruments, so the innovation is fundamentally in their capacity to identify and facilitate new objectives, rules and regulations. All these financial instruments can increase accessibility with more flexibility in expectations, thus liberating liquidity. However, they generally require an intermediary to facilitate fund acquisition, management and distribution. One-size-fits-all solutions are unlikely to work, nor will quick fixes. In the past, initiatives that have proven successful in integrating inclusive approaches were typically long term (>10 years) and initially supported by public funds, with commercial finance attracted later, so this needs to be taken into consideration when planning new projects with the identified sets of financial tools. Lessons learned from the past should be part of the strategic planning of today’s finance for sustainable landscapes. The main findings have also been summarized in a White Paper.

Access it here!

 

Given the success of this GLF Session, to allow participants and panelists to continue sharing their views, FTA, CIFOR and Tropenbos International have agreed to extend one last time the deadline for commenting the paper in the eDialogue until the 15th of December 2019.

Don’t miss the opportunity to join this debate!

 


By Bas Louman, Tropenbos International and Fabio Ricci, CIFOR/Bioversity.

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

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  • Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success

Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success

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This collection of 12 stories from women and men in nine countries in different parts of Africa shines a light on the efforts of communities, some of them decades-long, in restoring degraded forests and landscapes. The stories are not generated through any rigorous scientific process, but are nonetheless illustrative of the opportunities communities create as they solve their own problems, and of the many entry points we have for supporting and accelerating community effort. The stories show that leadership, social capital and cooperation, clear property rights/tenure, and supportive governance are important for successful community-based restoration. From the perspectives of communities, “success” is not only about the number of trees planted and standing over a certain terrain: it is also about the ability to secure and enhance livelihoods; to strengthen existing community relationships and to build new ones with other actors; to develop a conservation ethic among younger generations; and, in some cases, to expand the rights of excluded individuals and groups. This collection is about amplifying the voices of local people in global policy debates.

Foreword. Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success

Story 1. Holding back the desert: One farmer’s story of restoring degraded land in the Sahel region in Burkina Faso

Story 2. Women gaining ground through reforestation on the Cameroonian coast

Story 3. Building resilience to climate change through community forest restoration in Ghana

Story 4. Thinking in tomorrow: Women leading forest restoration in Mt Kenya and beyond

Story 5. Mikoko Pamoja: Carbon credits and community-based reforestation in Kenya’s mangroves

Story 6. Rights, responsibilities and collaboration: The Ogiek and tree growing in the Mau

Story 7. Restoring Madagascar’s mangroves: Community-led conservation makes for multiple benefits

Story 8. Flood recovery, livelihood protection and mangrove reforestation in the Limpopo River Estuary, Mozambique

Story 9. Regaining their lost paradise: Communities rehabilitating mangrove forests in the drought-affected Saloum Delta, Senegal

Story 10. From the grass roots to the corridors of power: Scaling up efforts for conservation and reforestation in Senegal

Story 11. Taming the rising tide: Keeping the ocean at bay through community reforestation on Kisiwa Panza island, Tanzania

Story 12. Shaking the tree: Challenging gender, tenure and leadership norms through collaborative reforestation in Central Uganda

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  • Interwoven landscapes pose complex challenge

Interwoven landscapes pose complex challenge

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Over the past six years, conversations on sustainable forest management activities focused on transforming the way the international community addresses poverty, food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss have coalesced into the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) movement.

Based on the landscape approach, the GLF aims to synthesize seemingly competing land-use goals to ensure social, environmental and economic equilibrium.  In a nutshell, both the GLF and the approach address the pressures of population growth and human demand, which exacerbate agricultural expansion and intensification, and the extraction of commodities, including wood, vegetable oils and biofuels.

At a recent GLF conference in Bonn, Germany, scientists discussed implementation of the landscape approach during a panel discussion titled Looking at the Past to Shape the Landscape Approach of the Future, moderated by Terry Sunderland, senior associate with CIFOR and a professor at Canada’s University of British Columbia.

The session was inspired in part by the findings of a research paper led by CIFOR scientist James Reed, titled “Integrated landscape approaches to managing social and environmental issues in the tropics: Learning from the past to guide the future.”

Watch: Looking at the past to shape the Landscape Approach of the future

New funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) for CIFOR and partners to move beyond theoretical discussions to implement and study landscape initiatives in Burkina Faso, Indonesia and Zambia also formed the basis for discussions.

“Moving from commitment to action is critical,” said Sunderland, who was instrumental in forming the GLF, which is now jointly coordinated by CIFOR – the lead center of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) – UN Environment and the World Bank, and funded by BMU and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Sunderland was also a lead author on the seminal research paper “Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation and other competing land uses,” which established the basis for ongoing conversations.

“We need to start moving beyond the talking, beyond the rhetoric and actually moving towards implementation,” Sunderland said. “We need to shift away from the theoretical, away from the political, away from the development speak and into much more pragmatic understandings of how landscape approaches play out on the ground.”

Panelists shared lessons learned from various initiatives that have embraced the landscape approach.

RESOURCE FLOWS

The town of Isangi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

Musonda Mumba, chief of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit at UN Environment, demonstrated the interconnectedness of landscapes. Through observations of glacier activity in the Rwenzori Mountains on the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, she came to understand the scale of the impact activities could have downstream and beyond country borders.

“Look at the Rwenzori system – if you go on the world map and the Africa map in particular, you’re going to see that most of the rivers that emanate from this region flow down into Lake Victoria, and eventually into the Nile River system,” she said. “And how many people live in the Nile basin? It’s millions, right? It’s a lot of people.”

She made similar findings from research in Peru. Because the capital Lima is a desert city, it depends on the maintenance of upstream sources to provide hydroelectricity and fresh water supply for more than 10 million people, Mumba said.

In 2015, significant international pacts were sealed, including the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Sendai Agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These formal agreements provide vital frameworks formalizing the interconnectivity of landscapes, Mumba said.

SDG 15, Life on Land, is the mother of all SDGs, she said. “We cannot exist without the land and our food systems are based on the land — You cannot slice up the landscape. A landscape is so intricately and complexly interwoven together.”

Read more: Putting the concept of the ‘landscape approach’ into action

SCALING UP

Terry Sunderland speakers during “Looking at the past to shape the Landscape Approach of the future” at GLF Bonn. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF

Mirjam Ros-Tonen, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, explored local-level, small-scale initiatives to test their potential to become broader scale landscape projects.

She evaluated agroforestry cocoa projects in Ghana involving reforestation and landscape restoration, which provided income for smallholder farmers. She learned that the projects were contained on the farm.

“Partnerships are needed to extend the activities to landscape level and partnerships are needed to give farmers a voice and offer them opportunities for self organization and autonomous change,” Ros-Tonen said. “See if you can build on local initiatives, and from there build partnerships with other actors in the landscape.”

After working on at least 50 large-scale integrated landscape initiatives, similar patterns showed the need for multi-stakeholder platforms that can plan and conceptualize a long term joint vision over a number of decades, said Sara Scherr, president and chief executive of EcoAgriculture Partners, adding that the process can take from six months to three years.

Implementation involves adhering to five key steps, including expansion of the stakeholder network, securing financial backing and an assessment process. Collaborative planning projects need a long-term vision.

“You need a cadre of people champions in the landscape from pharma organizations, agribusiness, local governments, national governments, cultural leaders, the people who were committed to the vision of the transformed landscape who will work together,” Scherr said.

It is important to look beyond labels in use and focus on assessing progress over the longer term, noting that such approaches ought to be thinking far beyond the typical project cycle, she added.

External input is a vital part of achieving success in integrated landscape initiatives, said Roderick Zagt, program coordinator at Tropenbos International. While people he worked with understood the problems they faced and the consequences of various activities, they can benefit from external perspectives.

“We aren’t in the driving seat,” Zagt said.  “We can’t impose that vision, but I think as an outsider you should try to set the conditions by which this vision will be reached through a structured dialogue process.”

Read more: The concept and development of the ‘landscape approach’

Overall, panelists agreed that landscape approaches must be long term, locally owned endeavors, although their effectiveness is often dependent on external sources of support, Reed said.

“The general consensus was that the GLF should provide a clearing house mechanism to consolidate experiences and knowledge,” he added.  “Its future mission could serve to enhance and clarify the evidence base, providing guidance on implementation strategies and lessons learned in the quest for truly sustainable landscapes.”

By Julie Mollins, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.


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

This research was supported by German Environment Ministry and German Development Ministry.

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  • Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Africa factsheets

Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Africa factsheets

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The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) published a series of factsheets in August 2018 ahead of GLF Nairobi, focusing on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon.

GLF is the world’s largest knowledge-led multisectoral platform for integrated land use, bringing together world leaders, scientists, private sector representatives, farmers and community leaders and civil society to accelerate action towards the creation of more resilient, equitable, profitable, and climate-friendly landscapes.

Brief 1: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Burkina Faso

Brief 2: Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Ethiopia

Brief 3: Reshaping the terrain: Forest landscape restoration efforts in Ghana

Brief 4: Reshaping the terrain: Landscape restoration in Tanzania

Brief 5: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Kenya

Brief 6: Reshaping the terrain: Forest landscape restoration in Uganda 

Brief 7: Reshaping the terrain: Forest and landscape restoration in Cameroon

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  • Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

Seed diversity vital to achieve landscape restoration pledges

A woman looks out over an FLR area in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR
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Optimally achieving forest landscape restoration – and its associated benefits for ecology and human wellbeing – requires high-quality planting material.

Restoration plays a key role in sustainable development. With countries making significant pledges under the Bonn Challenge to restore degraded land, achieving these objectives at scale requires integrated systems that provide diverse, adapted and high-quality native tree seeds and planting material.

However, there remains a gap in capacity, as studies have documented that the quality and quantity of tree germplasm is not always adequately addressed in restoration projects. Research is now generating solutions to help the global community move from pledges to impact when it comes to tree seeds and seedlings.

A discussion at the recent Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) with Bioversity International, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration – brought these issues to the fore.

Read more: Delivery of diverse and suitable seeds and planting material is a key barrier to sustainable land restoration at scale

In opening the discussion, Bioversity International’s leader of forest genetic resources and restoration Christopher Kettle, whose work also forms part of FTA, introduced how researchers can help to generate the volume of seeds needed to achieve development objectives.

In line with this, FTA Director Vincent Gitz highlighted that restoration is a priority for research programs such as FTA. In order to be successful, projects should integrate the availability of good tree planting materials from the outset to implementation, he suggested.

Giving a keynote, senior advisor on tropical trees and landscapes at the University of Copenhagen Lars Graudal, who is also coleader of tree productivity and diversity at ICRAF, echoed Kettle in asking whether the reproductive material of trees constituted a barrier for landscape restoration.

Referring to the Bonn Challenge – which aims to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020, and 350 million ha by 2030 – the largest restoration in history, which is backed by conventions and the sustainable development agenda, Graudal said it is one thing to have a plan, and another to implement it.

Despite shortfalls in investments, there is reason for optimism as public support for the plan has never been greater, he said. There is a “positive correlation with biodiversity and resilience, agricultural produce and dietary diversity,” he explained. The world faces challenges of mobilizing diversity before it disappears; focusing on dealing with numerous species rather than only a few; linking that work with conservation, breeding and delivery programs; and achieving efficient programs by empowering users.

Speakers of Discussion Forum 1 at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF

The discussion continued with a panel of speakers considering situations on the ground where restoration efforts are being implemented. Featuring Cameroon-based forest engineer Anicet Ngomin; Burkina Faso’s National Tree Seed Center director general Moussa Ouedraogo; Charles Karangwa of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Rwanda; biologist and youth representative Vania Olmos Lau; social entrepreneur Doreen Mashu; and FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism coordinator Douglas McGuire, the panel looked at how the ability to deliver diverse and quality seed and planting material is impacting countries’ pledges.

Outlining some of the regional challenges in meeting restoration commitments, Ouedraogo said Burkina Faso has committed to planting 5 million hectares by 2030, but has experienced a 30-35 percent survival rate of trees after one year of planting. Native species remain threatened, he added.

Ngomin said Cameroon has committed to restoring 12 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030, with seeds forming an important part of reforestation programs.

Read more: FTA researchers set to highlight seeds, REDD+ and inclusive finance at landscapes forum

Tree seed diversity determines the extent and speed to which ambitious restoration targets can be achieved, said Karangwa. While widespread eucalyptus monoculture in Rwanda affects land productivity, restoration would bring multiple benefits to both people and landscapes. Although farmers know the importance of trees on farms, he added, they “feel like trees are competing with crops, because of the quality and the type of trees we are telling them to plant.” This shows that tree seed diversity is paramount, he said.

Lau emphasized that achieving the Bonn Challenge is also important to youth. She cited as examples a lack of knowledge and access to seeds in Paraguay, as well as bureaucratic hurdles in Mexico, as existing barriers to restoration.

Mashu, who is the founder of The Good Heritage in Zimbabwe – a wellness brand using non-timber forest resources to create products – underlined the need for a clear connection between restoration efforts and economic activity.

“Companies are thinking about doing good in additional to making financial returns,” she said. Thus, business can be a vehicle for restoration for both businesspeople and the scientists who support it, she explained.

McGuire addressed time-bound political commitments, and how to balance these with the time needed to understand the science and practical issues behind tree planting. There are new projects indicating huge momentum both politically and financially, he explained, but many stakeholders have yet to address the technicalities of planting material.

A woman looks out over an FLR area in Ethiopia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Building on Mashu’s comments, he also underlined the role of the private sector and embedding restoration into economic realities.

Following on with keynote speeches were scientist Marius Ekué, Bioversity International’s representative in Cameroon and a member of FTA, and ICRAF’s Ramni Jamnadass, who is the leader of FTA’s Flagship 1 on tree genetic resources.

Ekué introduced the Trees for Seeds initiative, which was launched at GLF Nairobi in August and aims to safeguard diversity. “Trees don’t have borders, so we work within a network,” he said, referring to networks that exist across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Read more: Hedging bets in resilient landscape restoration

In line with the initiative, researchers have developed decision support tools to help practitioners select the right tree species for the right places, such as RESTOOL. This can help to understand how seed systems work in different countries, including how they are harvested, produced and distributed. With this information, researchers can then assess how to deliver at scale using innovative technologies.

Similarly, Jamnadass covered the quality of restoration, and the right tree for the right place and the right purpose. She also highlighted other decision support tools such as Useful Tree Species for Africa and the Vegetation Map for Africa. Research needs to put food trees back into landscapes using the restoration agenda, she emphasized.

The panel then continued with a second phase of discussion, articulating concrete solutions for lifting barriers to scale – raising the need to invest in knowledge and science, greater collaboration between partners, harnessing local knowledge, strengthening delivery systems as a local level, bridging gaps between science and policy, and capacity building.

In closing, Erick Fernandes, an adviser on agriculture, forestry and climate change to the World Bank Group, reiterated that the desire to restore land is strong.

As stated by the Trees for Seeds project, using the right mix of native trees in forest restoration efforts is essential to deliver on multiple SDGs, including reducing poverty and food insecurity, and supporting biodiversity.

Planting a trillion trees, and ensuring that they are the right trees in the right place, offers a powerful development solution.

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

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  • Ten years of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+

Ten years of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+

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  • Bamboo for restoration and economic development

Bamboo for restoration and economic development

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  • Standing tall: Bamboo from restoration to economic development

Standing tall: Bamboo from restoration to economic development

A woman stands beside an allanblackia tree, which can provide an edible oil and increase the incomes of farmers. Photo by C. Pye-Smith/ICRAF
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Can grass be used to make tissues, furniture, pipes and even housing? Can it help to improve livelihoods and to mitigate climate change? Think beyond garden lawns and savannah landscapes, to bamboo.

“Bamboos, although they look like trees,” said the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation’s (INBAR) Director General Hans Friederich in opening a recent side event at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, “are actually all grass species.”

Bamboo provides a durable building material and strong fiber for paper and textiles without the need to fell trees. Additionally, Friederich explained that as a grass, bamboo grows back quickly after being harvested – making it a highly sustainable product to work with.

Titled Bamboo for restoration and economic development, the discussion addressed how bamboo fits into conversations about land management, land restoration, erosion control and nature-based solutions for development challenges.

“[We need to] make that connection between bamboo as a plant, as a means to hold soil together, to think about climate change mitigation […] and then link that to the market,” he said. “What actually can we do with this bamboo once we plant it?”

“To have a value chain that actually identifies the market opportunities is important,” he added.

Eduardo Mansur, director of land and water at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN) underlined the importance of nature-based solutions, and combining green and grey infrastructure – that is, natural ecosystems with human-engineered solutions.

He described the huge amount of degraded land on the planet, saying: “If we restore this degraded land that exists on the planet […] we will be able to produce the products, the food and the ecosystem services that we need for sustainable livelihoods and sustainable life on the planet.”

“We have seen examples of species-specific conservation,” he said, “when it links with sustainable livelihoods.” Giving the example of the Brazilian Amazon, Mansur described a species of palm that produces an inedible coconut known as “vegetable ivory” for its color and texture. Used to make buttons and handicrafts, it has helped to improve the ecosystems where the palm occurs, he said, because there is a market link.

Such a species can be used to promote sustainable livelihoods and sustainable use, he added, drawing a comparison with the over 1,600 species of bamboo. If a bamboo species is well chosen and well managed, it can have ongoing positive effects, especially for soil restoration.

Read also: Bamboo and rattan: Surprising tools for forest protection

Ye Ling, president and chief engineer at Zhejiang Xinzhou Bamboo-based Composites Technology Co., Ltd, discussed how his company develops products from bamboo on a large scale – such as pressure pipes and modular housing from a bamboo composite – which offer better performance and lower costs and can replace a huge quantity of traditional materials such as cement and steel, thus helping to tackle climate change and contributing to the SDGs.

A woman whittles a piece of bamboo in India. Photo by International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR)

He emphasized innovation as the most important factor in product development, saying that without it, other factors such as policy or investment would have nowhere to go.

Trinh Thang Long, coordinator of the Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan for green development (GABAR) at INBAR said the organization’s 44 member states had begun to learn specifically from China’s use of bamboo for economic development.

GABAR aims to maximize bamboo and rattan’s contribution to national economic development and environmental protection, to help inform policies, development strategies and opportunities for investment.

Many countries are not yet fully aware of the advantages of bamboo compared to trees, Long explained. He emphasized that the grasses are fast growing, easy to manage, and can be harvested annually after the first four to five years.

INBAR’s member states are contributing to the Bonn Challenge by restoring 5 million hectares of degraded land using bamboo. On a small scale, the work has been successful, but upscaling remains a challenge.

This challenge affects many countries, but a case study in China illustrates the success of scaled-up bamboo. Jiang Jingyan, President of Yong’an Institute of Bamboo Industry, discussed Yong’an, China, and its reputation as a “bamboo city”. Concurring with previous speakers, he also addressed the importance of design and innovation.

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

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) Director Vincent Gitz then spoke about land restoration and the key constraints to upscaling, including policies and governance. He gave special attention to the economic aspects of land restoration – costs and benefits, investments and value chains.

“There won’t be any sustainable land restoration if we don’t give the means to increase, over time, the livelihoods of people that live on those lands,” he said.

There is often a time lag between a smallholder making an investment and seeing a return. However, as bamboo grows quickly and is extremely versatile, it is a strong option for restoration in different contexts. “Lots of innovation can come out of this plant,” he added.

Speakers participate in Side Event 4 at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Pilar Valbuena/GLF

An additional step is using bamboo to restore degraded lands while simultaneously creating clean energy, Gitz said, referring to an initiative from Clean Power Indonesia, which FTA is part of, and which is building small-scale bamboo-based energy generation plants in West Sumatra.

Touching further on industrial development, Cai Liang, the chief branding officer of Vanov Bamboo Tissue Enterprise in Sichuan, China, discussed the use of bamboo pulp for paper manufacturing, specifically for tissues. From concept to commitment, the company moved to develop a tissue paper using bamboo, without cutting down a single tree.

After years of experimentation, the company came up with soft, unbleached, antibacterial tissues made from bamboo fiber. Once again highlighting bamboo’s short growth period, constant regeneration and sustainability, Liang described how bamboo could provide the fibers typically taken from multiple types of trees to make paper.

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

As well as using the fiber to make the tissues themselves, the company uses waste from the process for energy generation and for fertilizer. The low-emission, closed-loop model uses over 1 million tons of bamboo annually, and offers over 1 million job opportunities for local farmers.

In closing, Friederich underscored this link between restoration and socioeconomics, harking back to Gitz’s presentation.

“If we want to succeed in restoration, we cannot only look at the landscapes – of course we need to look at the landscapes – but we need to look at the people in the landscapes and to connect them with the value chains that can come out of the productive aspects of restoration,” Gitz said.

“We can’t just stay where we are, and I think there are still some great opportunities for making new products from bamboo and looking at new ways of using bamboo within the landscape,” Friederich added.

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


Read more about INBAR’s participation in GLF Bonn 2018, or check out the summary of discussions from the forum.


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