IUFRO Spotlight #44 – Evidence linking community forest rights and improved forest condition inconclusive
There is an assumption that there is a correlation, possibly even a direct cause and effect relationship, between the devolution of forest governance and improved forest condition.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was interested in testing that hypothesis to assess its impact on global climate change mitigation and adaptation.
To that end, a group of researchers at Michigan State University was tasked with reviewing, summarizing and commenting on the empirical evidence supporting that conclusion.
In their review of the literature, they found the assumption deserves, at best, a “maybe.” Read more…
The world’s forests seem beset on all sides.
Rising populations and improved incomes are increasing demands for forest products and services ranging from the traditional – food, fuel and timber – to more recently recognized needs such as biomass, bioenergy, nature conservation, recreation and health, as well as forest biodiversity conservation.
At the same time, those rising populations – and changing preferences, such as increased demand for meat and dairy products – lead to forests being cleared to free up land for agricultural and pasture purposes.
Add the other drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, plus increasing temperatures, rapidly altering precipitation patterns and the impacts of continuously growing carbon dioxide concentrations on forest vegetation photosynthesis; and then throw in more extreme weather events that lead to more frequent and intensified droughts and wildfires, the migration of tree pests and diseases – aided by globalization – and one has a global forest under siege. Read more…
Forest landscape restoration (FLR) can be a major weapon in the battle against climate change.
FLR can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by increasing the productivity of landscapes and by enhancing the resilience of forest ecosystems and reducing the vulnerability of forest-dependent communities.
When one considers that about 25% of the world’s land surface is being degraded in one way or another and about 15% of that land surface is considered appropriate for forest landscape restoration, it underlines both the need for significant remedial action while, at the same time, pointing to a reasonable and beneficial way to achieve that restoration. Read more…
Renewable resources are critical to the sustainable future of our planet. That means biomass is being looked on, in many ways, as a potential game-changer.
It is seen as a mitigator of climate change, as a source of energy and as the source for a variety of bio-based products that range from wood to bio-plastics and composite materials.
Recognizing this, IUFRO’s newly constituted Sustainable Forest Biomass Network Task Force plans to explore the potentials and the risks of further development of biomass – specifically biomass from forests.
The Task Force is one of several organized to advance knowledge under five research themes in accordance with the IUFRO 2015-2019 Strategy. Read more…
By John Parrotta (Deputy Coordinator, IUFRO Division 8) and Lawal Marafa (Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee)
Dealing with uncertainties
REDD+ (reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries) is an evolving mechanism for climate change mitigation under continued debate within and outside of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While it has the potential to realize its primary climate change mitigation objective, there is considerable uncertainty regarding its actual or potential impacts on biodiversity, forests and the livelihoods of people in the tropical and sub-tropical forested landscapes where REDD+ implementation is envisaged.
Forests play a major role in achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and in striving for food security. Globally, millions of people depend on forests for their food security and nutrition, directly through the consumption or sale of foods produced in forests, indirectly through forest-related employment and income, forest ecosystem services, and forest biodiversity.
Current approaches to increasing food security tend to concentrate on agricultural solutions, ranging from intensification of agricultural production outside of forests to promoting agroforestry systems. Policy recommendations to establish a framework for promoting food security from forests, however, have so far been rather general and no framework addresses the relationship between forests and food security directly.
The “International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition”, held at FAO Headquarters in Rome in May 2013, inter alia conveyed the key message that forests, trees and agroforestry systems demand greater attention in strategies for food security and nutrition and in the fight against hunger. It also called for improved data collection at national and international levels.
All year round, IUFRO (www.iufro.org) scientists hold or participate in meetings to present results and exchange knowledge in all fields of research related to forests. Quite recently, only a short time before the Global Landscapes Forum in mid-November on the sidelines of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, IUFRO scientists were again discussing issues of great relevance to this upcoming event, namely at the:
1st International Symposium on Afforestation of Pastures in Subtropical Regions
Peter Holmgren, Director-General of the Center for International Forestry Research, presented his Keynote Address, “Forestry in a landscape approach – developing evidence-based policies”, during the final day of sessions of IUFROLAT III.
Holmgren, presented a series of questions, framing a way forward to position forestry alongside that of other land users to address multi-sector problems in a landscape approach.
In his first question, “what are the policies we need?” he defined what shapes many of the forest policies, not only in Latin America, also on a global scale. These included poverty reduction, nutrition and food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, preservation of biological diversity, and achieving green growth and equity. He outlined how forestry is related to 9 out of 12 sustainable development goals, and we need to think about where forestry can play a role in policies being politically relevant and providing positive contributions.
He transitioned by asking, “how does forestry contribute?” and presented his thoughts on how forestry is portrayed on increasingly large level. Forestry has become an environmental issue and forestry related questions are often blurred with perceptions of forests on a whole. Topics such as REDD, illegal logging, etc have brought attention to forests, yet fundamentally, they are not forestry issues. Holmgren proclaimed, “We need to take forestry out of the forest”. He explained how the adoption of a broader definition of the role of forestry, and how it applies to address key issues across a landscape, could be employed.
Expanding on this thought, Holmgren asked the question, “how is a landscape approach different?” In answer, he identified a sustainable landscape framework that focuses on objectives such as; ensuring livelihood provision, sustaining ecosystem services, securing food and non-food products, mitigating pollution and achieving resource efficiency. To do so, we need to see landscapes as a large part of sustainable development, identify multiple objectives and acknowledge that there are beneficial synergies as well as trade-offs. We need to build our work to ensure that local stakeholders are in charge and help strengthen the role of sectors to support them building a holistic landscape.
In order to provide this support, we must incorporate evidence-based approach in our science and policy interface. He answered his final question, “what is different about an evidence-based approach?”, by introducing new models that identified the importance of satisfying demand by stakeholders for information with relevant, credible forest science research.
Holmgren closed with some take home messages:
- It is time to take forestry out of the forest,
- We need a landscape approach to deal with sustainable development challenges; and
- Our plans for the future must be evidence-based.
Forests, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Charting a new research agenda
By Peter Dewees, Forest Advisor, World Bank
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment defines ecosystem services as the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. And ecosystem themselves are, speaking in economic terms, an asset, while their services would represent the flow of benefits. So paying for ecosystem services, once the benefits have been valued, has become a topic of interest especially with governments.
Ecosystem services are closely related to poverty alleviation, but it might be just a conventional wisdom to think that the deterioration of ecosystem services automatically leads to an aggravation of poverty. As a matter of fact, there is evidence that human wellbeing has been increasing while the environment and ecosystem services are declining. The Human Development Index illustrates this situation. So what are the underlying causes for this disconnect?
It might be that we are measuring the wrong things and disregard important factors, e.g. the time lag between the decline of ecosystems and the impact.
With regard to forests, global forest cover is declining and forest degradation is increasing for many reasons, yet in some rural landscapes tree numbers are growing. For the farmers, trees are important in many ways. In countries like Kenya, for example, they serve as field boundaries. Trees on farms can increase productivity and thus increase household incomes, they also help build resilience due to diversification of species. Trees on farms can build soil carbon.
So, incorporating trees in land management strategies is an important contribution to climate change mitigation. Consequently, what is really needed is to put in place policies to create incentives for better landscape management. Policies need to be informed by good data, and this is where research comes into the picture and the focus should be on fully recognizing the complexity of landscapes.
The data required should fulfil a set of criteria, of course. They need to be representative, suited for being aggregated, up-to-date, policy relevant and address the right questions.
In conclusion, Dewees particularly points out two research areas that should feature more prominently and deliver good data:
a) The role of household environment income with respect to productivity and consumption; risk and vulnerability; and equality;
b) Policy and public finance with regard to how to support farmer based adaptation and how to identify other points of entry such as social safety nets.
12-15 June 2013
San José, Costa Rica
Congress website: http://www.web.catie.cr/iufrolat/Iufro_ing.htm
This blog will present highlights and impressions from IUFROLAT III, the Third IUFRO Latin American Congress which starts today in the city of San José, Costa Rica and will run until Saturday, 15 June 2013. The Congress has been organized together with CATIE, the Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, RIABM, the Iberoamerican Model Forest Network, FAO and several IUFRO members in the region. The overall theme of the Congress is “Forests, competitiveness and sustainable landscapes” and one of its major goals is to place relevant science-based information at the disposal of decision makers.
With up to 600 expected participants, IUFROLAT III has exceeded all expectations and has outnumbered previous regional Congresses by far. This clearly shows the extraordinary interest and need of scientists in Latin America to share and exchange information on the issues that are high on the agenda in the region concerning forest and landscape management, ecosystem services and climate change adaptation and mitigation, among others. The Congress languages being Spanish, English and Portuguese will further contribute to ensuring an excellent exchange of knowledge and experience.
IUFRO is placing particular emphasis on strengthening forest-related research in regions. Regional congresses are aimed to promote quality research as well as maintain the momentum of IUFRO activities in the five-year periods between IUFRO World Congresses in a certain region.
The great success of previous regional congresses, especially the First African Regional Congress held in Nairobi, Kenya, almost exactly one year ago, have confirmed the great need for IUFRO’s focusing on defined geographic areas. The first two IUFRO Latin American Congresses in Valdivia (1998) and La Serena (2006), both organized by INFOR, the Forest Research Institute of Chile, and the European Regional Congress that took place in Warsaw, Poland (2007), are further excellent examples.
IUFRO Board Meeting
Right before the Congress, the IUFRO Board (http://www.iufro.org/who-is-who/board/) held its annual meeting and important issues concerning the future of the network, its leadership, venues of world congresses and strategic guidelines are on the agenda. The decisions made at this Board meeting will pave the way for the next Board term starting after the next IUFRO World Congress in October 2014 in Salt Lake City, USA (http://www.iufro2014.com/).
IUFRO-SPDC Pre-Congress Training Workshop: Communicating Forest Research – Making Science work for Policy and Management
San José, Costa Rica, June 9-11
Prior to the Congress, IUFRO’s Special Programme for Development of Capacities (IUFRO-SPDC), formerly known as the Special Programme for Developing Countries in coordination with CATIE, carried out a training workshop for early-career scientists from the Latin American Region to strengthen capacities and skills in forest science communication. The workshop brought together 16 participants from 11 regional countries.
One attendant, Eduardo Lopez Rosse from CIDES-UMSA and UMSS-Trópico, Bolivia, expressed his thoughts on the workshop. “The workshop was a great experience… I learned how to transmit scientific information outside the academic arena to other stakeholders, municipalities in my country, as well as to the general public.”
Another scientist, Mariana Moya, Extension Advisor at the Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires of Argentina had this to say, “We have a lot of people in Latin America working intensively with small farmers, with aboriginal communities, and we must communicate with governments, private companies, and different kinds of social organizations. It is helpful to me to see experiences from people who work in Brazil, Chile, Panama, and how they are communicating in their extension programs.”
The workshop which concluded today was an excellent demonstration of the SPDC’ capacity development efforts in building strengthened communication of forest research in a region.
It is important to note that IUFRO-SPDC through generous contributions by the Governments of Finland, Germany and the United States of America as well as the Center for International Forestry Research supports a total of 66 scientists in the framework of the Scientist Assistance Programme to attend the IUFROLAT Congress, bringing scientists who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to come to such an event.
Information about the Training Courses and IUFRO-SPDC: