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Trees for a fruitful 2021 (Vol. 4, Issue 5)

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Dini Raras

Dear readers,

It is my pleasure to send you the last FTA Newsletter of 2020. I hope you are all as good as can be as we approach the end the year. Needless to say, this has been a very complex year with the pandemic; these are challenging times. Everyone, from governments and organizations to businesses, households and individuals, had to adapt quickly to radical changes, developing coping strategies. Adaptation is a key part of FTA’s research and I must say that I admired how our FTA scientific community as a whole was able to transform ways of working in such a short span of time, demonstrating a strong resilience and also innovative responses to this global shock.

FTA is a global program and as such, remote ways of work between distant colleagues and communities are already part of our daily routine. Back in March 2017, we had already organized a major global digital symposium, one of the first of the kind. In 2020 we mobilized this prime experience to go through the constraints imposed by lockdowns, local and international travel restrictions. We drastically increased our online work and communications. Lowering our carbon footprint did not mean lowering our capacity to interact: we exchanged with more actors in the field than we did before when physical events was the norm. We held the FTA 2020 Science Conference as a unique event that ran over 2 weeks gathering more than 500 scientists worldwide and hundreds of contributions, divided into 6 technical workstreams. We are now working on making all this material available on line on a dedicated website will be ready early 2021. We also initiated a webinar series as a result of the FTA 2020 Science Conference, to bring to the open public the results of our decadal research activity. The first one, featuring an exceptional panel on innovative finance, was held on the 26th November and it attracted over 130 participants. More of these webinars will come in 2021.

2021 will bring a range of global milestones around biodiversity with the CBD Conference in Kunming, climate change with the UNFCCC Conference in Glasgow, sustainable forestry with the Global Forestry Congress in Seoul, Sustainable food systems with the UN food systems summit, and the starting UN decade on ecosystems restoration. It has also been declared by the UN the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). We’ve worked hard in FTA to contribute effectively to these agendas, and the international discussions this year will in turn shape the future demand towards global research on forests, trees and agroforestry.

2021 will be the last year of FTA as a decadal collaborative research for development program of the CGIAR, and at the same time it will be a global doorstep for the “build back better” agenda. It will be the time to look back at key achievements, what has worked well, less well and why. It will be time to look into the future. A future that can be enriched by the incredible amount of positive “fruits” of trees, forests and agroforestry systems.

I hope you will enjoy how closely the content of this newsletter is linked to environmental, health, social justice and sustainability topics. I wish you all some safe days ahead and I look forward in engaging with you all in 2021.

Stay safe and healthy!

Vincent Gitz
FTA Director


Our work on Orphan Crops featured on Reuters

imagethumb.jpgFollowing a recent publication led by the FTA partner ICRAF, Reuters picked up our work on orphan crops with an interesting piece featured on their website. ‘‘The revival of orphan crops could be the disruption that African food systems need. But what is the best way to make it happen? Create consumer demand, or boost the yields of these traditional foods first?’’ questions Stepha Mc Mullin, ICRAF scientist and lead author of the review study. Find out more.

Food for thought!

imagethumb.jpgTwo of humanity’s biggest problems – the climate crisis and abysmal eating habits – can partly be solved by one healthy solution: eating more food from trees, specifically tropical ones. A new article published on People and Nature, highlights the myriad nutritional, economic and environmental-health potential of increasing the production and consumption of tropical fruits.

Special feature

Forests and agroforestry taking its place for climate adaptation

imagethumb.jpgForests and trees provide so called nature-based solutions for adaptation helping other sectors build resilience. Thanks to their crucial ecosystem services, forests support crops, livestock, and fisheries, as well as prevent flooding and erosion that can threaten infrastructure, economies and people. To help countries integrate these considerations into adaptation planning, FTA together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) joined forces and developed the Addressing forestry and agroforestry in National Adaptation Plans: Supplementary guidelines. Read more.

FTA and IRSG just released a brief on rubber and climate change

imagethumb.jpgThis joint FTA and IRSG publication considers natural rubber primary production in relation to its sustainability and challenges in order to identify how it can best contribute to sustainable development in a context of climate change. It focuses on issues linked to primary production and land use as part of a research program on plantations, identifying a number of “sustainability hotspots” and proposing 5 key pillars for the way forward. Download it here.

Sentinel Landscape Report on Nicaragua-Honduras now available in Spanish

imagethumb.jpgThe first Sentinel Landscape Report, written together with our partner CATIE is now also available in Spanish. In case you missed it, here is also a longform article on the report from when the English version was released. Download the ES version here.

Record submissions to public consultation urge EU to act on deforestation!

imagethumb.jpgA landmark 1,193,652 submissions to the EU’s public consultation on deforestation were handed over to the European Commission on the 14th of December, all of which demanded a strong EU law to protect the world’s forests and the rights of people who depend on them. The one million+ submissions have made this the largest public consultation on environmental issues in the history of the EU, and the second largest ever. FTA’s partner Tropenbos International has prepared a position paper on this regard.

Uganda’s 10-year National Bamboo Strategy and Action Plan is moving

imagethumb.jpgWith technical and financial support from INBAR/FTA, in 2019 Uganda signed off the National Bamboo Strategy and Action Plan for 2019–2029. We take stock of progress 1 year after this landmark policy decision and it seems things are progressing steadily!

New joint FAO-CIFOR report on the domestic production and trade of legal timber in Côte d’Ivoire

imagethumb.jpgTitled Demandes en bois et produits dérivés dans les marchés publics en Côte d’Ivoire, the study, published as part of a project supported by the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme (FLEGT), seeks to fill the knowledge gap on the type and volumes of timber supplied on the domestic market. The publication also presents a series of recommendations on how to increase the supply of legal timber in the country. This information is an invaluable contribution towards Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to move forward with the elaboration of a public procurement policy on the production and trade of legally harvested timber. Download it here.

Sustainable Food Systems for all: inclusivity matters!

imagethumb.jpgAs part of the UN SDG Action Zone, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), recently hosted a session moderated by Kuntum Melati and Sofia Cavalleri, entitled “Protection For Resilience: Synergizing SDGs to Achieve Resilient Food Systems”. The panel included FTA scientists, voices of youth, civil society organizations, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) and the private sector, all of whom are working to redesign the food systems. Read our article and replay the session here.

Farmers restore land in Africa with natural regeneration but how can we learn what practices work where and for whom?

imagethumb.jpgFarmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is where farmers encourage trees to grow from rootstock or seeds naturally occurring in their fields that are in active agricultural use. FMNR delivers a number of positive impacts, including increased agricultural productivity through improvement of soil fertility and feed for livestock and higher incomes for farmers. Scientists from World Agroforestry (ICRAF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangor University and Wageningen University have recently reviewed the scientific evidence on FMNR in Sub-Saharan Africa, covering how context influences the composition of regenerating vegetation and what is known about the subsequent environmental and socio-economic benefits. Read more.

Latest ETFRN news on Restoring African Drylands is now out

imagethumb.jpgETFRN News 60 focuses on dryland restoration in the Sahel and the Greater Horn of Africa where levels of poverty, land degradation and out-migration are acute. It collates 36 articles from more than 100 contributors featuring a number of FTA scientists. It includes some long-term analyses of remarkable increases in tree cover and improved agricultural yields over large areas of the Western Sahel never published before, landscape restoration in Ethiopia, and examples from many other countries. Read more about it here.

Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. News photos, from top, by: Alina Paul-Bossuet; Tri Saputro/CIFOR; Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR; CIFOR; Tropenbos International; International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR); Raphael Tsanga/CIFOR; Neil Palmer/CIAT, May Muthuri/World Agroforestry; Niguse Hagazi/World Agroforestry.

Contact us

Recent publications


Raising the profile of woodfuels in the forest landscape restoration agenda


Food for thought


Innovative finance for sustainable landscapes


Resultados de los estudios biofísicos y socioeconómicos en el Paisaje Centinela Nicaragua – Honduras


Demandes en bois et produits dérivés dans les marchés publics en Côte d’Ivoire


Priorities, challenges and opportunities for supplying tree genetic resources


Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Bioenergy and the Need for Regenerative Supply Options for Africa


How does replacing natural forests with rubber and oil palm plantations affect soil respiration and methane fluxes?


Land-use change and greenhouse gas emissions in the tropics


The politics of numbers and additionality governing the national Payment for Forest Environmental Services scheme in Vietnam


Forest-linked livelihoods in a globalized world


Understanding and evaluating the impact of integrated problem-oriented research programmes: Concepts and considerations


Acerca del Estudio Global Comparativo de CIFOR sobre REDD+

Promoting sustainable woodfuel in multifunctional landscapes (social media teaser)

Forest Governance in the Indigenous Territory of Lomerío, Bolivia

Yaw Gyabeng’s – River bank restoration at Elluokrom, Ghana

Empowering refugees and host communities to protect Cameroon’s forests

Preserving the community forest: a woman’s struggle for life

Elikya, l’enfant de la forêt (version en Swahili)

The impact of oil palm growing on land use and food security in Kalangala district


Dig it: Unearthing the importance of soil

Keeping ecosystem intact, keeping humanity alive

Ensuring a nutritious diet for all. Together.

Digging deeper on World Soil Day 2020

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (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, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI.

FTA thanks all donors who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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