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A joint stocktaking of CGIAR work on forest and landscape restoration by FTA, PIM and WLE

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FTA communications

Despite the high level of political engagement and the wide range of organizations involved in restoration projects from local to global levels, beyond some success stories, restoration is not happening at scale. Research is urgently needed to design, develop and upscale successful restoration approaches. As part of this effort, FTA, PIM and WLE publish a synthesis of a survey of CGIAR’s projects on restoration.

Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) have gained traction on the political agenda over the past decades with the multiplication of pledges and commitments on restoration such as  the Bonn Challenge (2011), the New York Declaration on Forests (2014) and other global or regional initiatives. On March 1st, 2019, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021-2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (Resolution A/RES/73/284).

This UN Decade could offer unprecedented opportunities to address food security, job creation and climate change simultaneously. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) considers that restoring 350 million hectares (ha) of degraded land by 2030, as committed in the New York Declaration on Forests, could generate USD 9 trillion in various ecosystem services and remove about 13–26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

However, despite the high level of political engagement and the wide range of institutions (public, private or civil society; local to global) involved in restoration projects, and beyond some success stories, restoration is not happening at scale.

In 2018, starting with a joint workshop, three CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) – Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA); Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) – decided to strengthen their collaboration to address this issue by bringing together different research streams working on soil, water and forest restoration.

“There are huge opportunities in bringing the three CRPs together to work on land restoration. Each of these CRPs works on different aspects of land restoration. Pooling this evidence in a user-friendly and accessible manner holds great potential for scaling, and for delivering enhanced impact from our CGIAR research” said Vincent Gitz, Izabella Koziell and Frank Place, the three CRP directors.

The three CRPs agreed on a broad scope of restoration, focused on the restoration of “ecological functions”, with the following definitions:

Degradation: Loss of functionality of e.g. land or forests, usually from a specific human perspective, based on change in land cover with consequences for ecosystem services

Restoration: Efforts to halt ongoing and reverse past degradation, by aiming for increased functionality (not necessarily recovering past system states).

They also discussed theories of [induced] changes underlying landscape dynamics of degradation and restoration. The following questions helped structure the discussions:

  • Why? What are the final goals of restoration efforts, which sustainable development goals can they contribute to?
  • What? What are the drivers of degradation that need to be addressed? What are the ecological functions to be restored?
  • Who? Who cares? Who are the stakeholders responsible for or impacted by land degradation? How stakeholders are encouraged, empowered and organized to act for forest and landscape restoration?
  • How? How to design effective restoration interventions? What are the land use and land management options for change in different contexts, across countries and biomes?
  • Where and when? How to operationalize action recognizing the connectivity across different spatial and temporal scales in the restoration process, considering the landscape’s spatial configuration and temporal dynamics?

A joint stocktaking of CGIAR work on forest and landscape restoration
[Download the report in PDF]

As a first step of their collaboration, the 3 CRPs (FTA, PIM, WLE) conducted a broad survey of the CGIAR’s work on restoration, inviting contributions from other CRPs. The document published today is a synthesis of the survey results. The full database with full details on each initiative is available as an annex.

The survey reflects the implication of different CGIAR Centers (ICRAF, Bioversity, CIFOR, CIAT, IWMI, ILRI, ICRISAT, CIMMYT and IFPRI) in restoration projects across the tropics and sub-tropics, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Peru, or Indonesia concentrate many projects and provide strong opportunities for further collaboration among the three CRPs.

The survey shows the wide range of restoration activities undertaken by CGIAR CRPs and Centers, with their partners, from knowledge generation, methods, planning, modelling, assessment and evaluation, monitoring and mapping, to action on the ground. CGIAR restoration work can be divided into three broad categories: (1) case studies and projects; (2) tools for development; (3) approaches and conceptual frameworks.

The first category gathers case studies and projects comprising an element of field research. It comprises experimental plots, trials, local capacity building and implementation, on-the-ground assessments and surveys at different scales. It distinguishes: (i) “restoration-focused projects” where forest and land degradation is the main entry point and restoration is the main objective; from, (ii) “restoration-related projects” that can contribute to forest and landscape restoration while following other objectives (such as sustainable intensification or climate-smart agriculture). Half of the “restoration-focused” projects aim at assessing restoration practices with the view to upscale successful restoration experiences, such as the Ngitili fodder management system which contributed to the restoration of up to 270,000 ha over about 25 years in Shinyanga region, Tanzania. The others focus on climate change and climate-smart restoration, or on desertification and sand fixation. Six projects in this category focus on genetic diversity and on the performance and organization of the seed supply system, identified in this survey as a critical factor of success for restoration interventions. “Restoration-related projects” focus on various topics closely linked to restoration, including: sustainable land and water management; climate-smart agriculture; land tenure security and land governance reform; participatory governance and planning and collective farming.

The second category regroups: (i) tools, methods and guidelines, directed at decision makers or restoration practitioners at different levels, to support decision making; as well as, (ii) maps and models, measuring at different scales the intensity of degradation (i.e. efforts needed for restoration) or modeling the impacts of different land-use changes or land management practices. Models and maps often serve as the first layer for decision-making supporting tools. This category includes for instance two entries on the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF), developed by ICRAF and applied, since 2005, in over 250 landscapes (100 km2 sites) across more than 30 countries. Using indicators such as vegetation cover, structure and floristic compositions, tree and shrub biodiversity, historic land use, visible signs of land degradation, and physical and chemical characteristics of soil (including soil organic carbon content and infiltration capacity), the LDSF, applicable to any landscape, provides a field protocol for assessing soil and ecosystem health to help decision makers to prioritize, monitor and track restoration interventions.

The third category, covering more theoretical work, includes: (i) evaluations, conceptual or theoretical frameworks around restoration and related issues; and (ii) systematic literature and/or project reviews, as well as meta-analyses on different topics linked to restoration. For instance a global survey on seed sourcing practices for restoration, was realized between 2015 and 2017 by Bioversity International, reviewing 136 restoration projects across 57 countries, and suggesting a typology of tree seed sourcing practices and their impact on restoration outcomes (Jalonen et al., 2018).

The survey describes projects operating at the landscape level or across multiple scales. This shows the importance of the landscape level to effectively combine integrated perspectives that allow synergies among different ecosystem components and functions with a deep knowledge of, and a fine adaptation to, local conditions. While many projects focus on the technical performance of restoration projects, relatively few investigate the economics, cost and benefits, of restoration and few examine their underlying power structures and power dynamics/games. This relative paucity of costs and benefit data has been noted by other organizations, an aspect that led to the launch of the FAO-led TEER initiative, to which FTA and several CGIAR centers contribute.

All the answers taken together provide useful insights for future restoration activities. In particular, they identify five critical factors of success for restoration interventions:

  1. secure tenure and use rights;
  2. access to markets (for inputs and outputs) and services;
  3. access to information, knowledge and know-how associated with sustainable and locally adapted land use and land management practices;
  4. awareness of the status of local ecosystem services, often used as a baseline to assess the level of degradation; and
  5. (v) high potential for restoration to contribute to global ecosystem services and attract international donors.

This synthesis will inform future work of FTA, PIM and WLE. It can also be used to support the design of restoration activities, programs and projects. Finally, it also illustrates with concrete examples the powerful contribution of forest and landscape restoration to the achievement of many, if not all of the 17 sustainable development goals. In particular, forest and landscape restoration, through the recovery of a range of ecological functions, can contribute to:

  • enhance food security through the improvement of the ecosystem services sustaining agriculture at landscape scale
  • improve natural resource use efficiency, thus reducing the pressure on the remaining natural habitats and addressing water scarcity;
  • favour social justice by securing a more equitable access to natural resources (e.g. land, water and genetic resources), and a wider participation in decision-making processes, in particular for women and marginalized people; and,
  • strengthen ecosystem, landscape and livelihoods resilience to economic shocks and natural disasters in a context of climate change.

The COVID 19 crisis has shown the importance of healthy ecosystems for healthy and resilient economies and societies. We hope that this document will contribute to integrate restoration as part of the efforts to “build back better” after the crisis.

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 Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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Forecasting cocoa yields for 2050

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Cocoa is a food-industrial crop that can have an important role in poverty reduction for small producers in developing countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia and Oceania. The cocoa chocolate value chain moves every year millions of dollars that represent important dividends for producing countries and for national and international companies around the world. The International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) is a structural simulation model which allows for future analysis of cocoa market globally. The model has been developed at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to consider the long term challenges facing policymakers in reducing hunger, and poverty in a sustainable fashion. IMPACT is the main quantitative tool used by the Global Futures & Strategic Foresight (GFSF) initiative, in which Bioversity International is involved as a partner. The aim of this report is to validate the performance and improve parameterization of IMPACT cocoa components. It focuses on ten largest cocoa producing countries in reviewing parameters related to yield growth rates. Based on historical cocoa yield time series forecasts are made using Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA). The forecast together with statistically estimated prediction intervals, supported by literature sources and expert knowledge are compared against respective yield trajectories embedded in IMPACT in order to make recommendations.

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Women’s Studies International Forum: Special Section on Latin American women’s farm land and communal forests

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  • Visualizing gender in Tanzanian sugarcane production: The use of community screening and documentary filming

Visualizing gender in Tanzanian sugarcane production: The use of community screening and documentary filming

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A Tanzanian family stands together for a photograph. Photo by Carol J. Pierce Colfer/CIFOR
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A child plays beside her mother in Tanzania. Photo by M. Koningstein/CIAT

Including the voices of both male and female farmers in the larger decision-making process at a national level sounds logical, but how can it be done in practice? 

“Usually these farmers don’t have a chance to talk directly to the large companies,” said Principal Investigator Emily Gallagher of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “It is for this reason that we have decided to include documentary filming and community screening as an essential part of the research process, to give these farmers a voice.”

A project led by CIFOR, under a cross-CGIAR Research Program collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), uses an innovative methodology including documentary filming, community screening and local and national level workshops to do just that.

Visualization of research

Gallagher and her team are currently undertaking field visits, with a focus on sugarcane farmers, done in collaboration with enumerators and partners from the University of Dar es Salaam.

“What I am really interested in is the visual communication aspect and the visualization of the research. This is what we are trying to reach through the use of the documentary film. For now, we have interviewed and filmed three people per community [six in total for the sugarcane farmers]. Two of them are outgrowers and one of them is a non-outgrower. Then, I want to use the issues that come out of the filming workshop as a guide to structure the dialogue and capture the communities, using a dialogical process with a strong facilitation, together with the investors,” she explained.

This involved exercises with various communities, including both men and women, and outgrowers and non-outgrowers, to understand what guided their decisions to say yes or no to becoming members of sugarcane associations.

Men collect water in Tanzania. Photo by Tim Cronin/CIFOR

“Another approach we take is using scenarios. We try to understand what, for example, an increase or decrease of the sugar price would mean for them: Would they leave or join associations? What would this mean for the adjoining forest? What would it mean for water scarcity or water quality?” Gallagher added.

The project then went a step further, by filming the interviews and creating a documentary, along with other footage. This film was screened at the beginning of September to two communities. The screenings were open to the whole community, and were also attended by the researchers and an invited district officer. The following day a workshop was held with village representatives. Furthermore, the movie was shared in the same week with the investor.

“We engage them all together in a local workshop, in which the video will serve as a means of facilitation. Here we will film their feedback, their reactions, their ideas and any other topics that might surge,” she said.

After this, the team will make a second version of the movie, which will be shown during a national workshop, to which national decision-makers will be invited.

“This way, again, the video will serve as a way to show the voices from the field, as a guide in the facilitation of the national workshop and as a tool to gain empathy and understanding of national decision-makers [about] what it is like to be a smallholder sugarcane farmer.”

Find out more: Gendered dimensions of large-scale and smallholder-inclusive agricultural investments in Tanzania

Gendered or generational restricted access?

In regards to the gender approach in the project, the results have been interesting thus far: In the community of Kitete, farmers tend to have very little land and therefore the whole household works together on the same plot. Therefore, the division between food crops and cash crops is not so clear, nor is the gender division of tasks.

A Tanzanian family stands together for a photograph. Photo by Carol J. Pierce Colfer/CIFOR

Female farmers who were not part of the association were asked whether they felt there was gender-restricted access. However, they said there was more of a youth restriction: Most young farmers do not have land because they have not inherited any. This land scarcity is also the cause of a lot of internal household conflicts in which various children fight for a very small piece of land, and why only very few farmers can buy land, because no one is selling it.

The only valid reason, as the interviewed farmers mentioned, for moving away from sugarcane production would be if prices dropped and thus the return on investment did not make production worth it anymore.

Field visits to suspicious sugarcane farmers

But it has not been as easy as it sounds, according to Gallagher. As always, field visits begin with traditional village introductions, done together with government officials based in the village, the village chairperson and subvillage leaders, partners from the University of Dar es Salaam, and later with a professional filmmaker. Reactions to their presence and the documentary filmmaking proposal have been quite diverse.

In the first village, a longer follow-up explanation was needed to clarify that CIFOR’s intention was not to convince farmers to join big cooperatives, as they had seen done in the past, but purely to understand the context and reasons for day-to-day decisions that the sugarcane farmers make.

“Basically, the context in which we are working here in Tanzania is one of quite some suspicion and mistrust. Farmers have no means to talk directly to large agribusiness and a lot of misinformation is going around. I think if companies had more open communication pathways about their management practices and market strategies, much of the distrust would dissipate,” said Gallagher.

It can be said that the sugarcane market works through associations. “Overall, outside of the associations, there is no market for sugarcane. So unless it is a food crop, farmers need to somehow become a member of an association to sell their product. However, it seems that farmers are trusting the associations more than the government-backed cooperatives, which they have called corrupt and misguiding,” Gallagher added.

Gallagher will be in the field in coming months, shifting her focus toward rice and tea farmers in Tanzania. Gender dimensions in these communities are expected to bring different outcomes.

By Manon Koningstein, FTA Gender Integration Team.  

This project is part of a larger study to examine the local impacts of commercialization across the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). The initiative aims to improve national food security, reduce poverty and support climate-resilient livelihoods through sustainable agricultural growth. In practice, SAGCOT will grow through public-private partnerships to finance agricultural infrastructure, value chain development and various smallholder outgrower schemes in Tanzania. 

The government of Tanzania, private investors and civil society organizations have outlined a commitment to social inclusion and climate-smart development through the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint (2011) and the Green Growth Investment Framework (2013).

However, some consider that these instrumental investment frameworks have overlooked the ways in which they could also serve as an example of the pathways that safeguard women’s access and household food security, while at the same time promoting gender-inclusive green growth. 

Thus the next new phase was entered the research process. This phase, led by Emily Gallagher, aims to contribute to the dialogue by analyzing the social, economic and institutional factors that affect gendered access to these agro-investments and to propose pathways for the government of Tanzania’s socially inclusive vision for SAGCOT. 

It does so through a set of methods and communication instruments for documenting the gender baseline in the initial stages of SAGCOT development. The gender baseline measures the relative level of women’s participation in SACGOT outgrower schemes and how this impacts household food security and gendered distribution of benefits. Furthermore, it aims to provide an opportunity to operationalize the government of Tanzania’s gender inclusive policies through innovative practice.

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

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