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:
Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives
Forests harbour a major proportion of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and provide a wide range of vitally important ecosystem services – including carbon sequestration and storage. Deforestation and forest degradation continue to erode biodiversity and the capacity of forest ecosystems to help mitigate climate change and provide the goods and services that sustain livelihoods and human well-being locally, and globally. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) is a proposed mechanism which has the potential to realise its primary objective – climate change mitigation – with variable impacts, positive and negative, on biodiversity, forests and people. REDD+ is complex, its proposed activities and implementation mechanisms not yet clearly defined, and therefore surrounded by uncertainty. Because of its high relevance to climate change mitigation, the conservation and sustainable use of forests and their biological diversity, the Expert Panel on Biodiversity, Forest Management and REDD+ was established by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests in December 2011 to carry out this assessment.
The Expert Panel included 24 scientists and other experts from a variety of biophysical and social science disciplines relevant to the topics covered in this assessment report. An additional 18 contributing authors added their expertise to the assessment. Each chapter was prepared by a team of Lead Authors and Contributing Authors led by one or more Coordinating Lead Authors. A full draft of the report and its individual chapters was peer-reviewed prior to its completion. The results of this voluntary collaboration between January and October 2012 are presented in the six inter-related chapters comprising this book.
This assessment report evaluates the implications of forest and land management interventions envisaged under REDD+ in a multidimensional and integrated fashion. It summarises the most current scientific literature that sheds light on the relationships between forest biodiversity and carbon (and other ecosystem services), how these complex relationships may be affected by management activities implemented to achieve REDD+ objectives, the potential synergies and tradeoffs between and among environmental and socio-economic objectives, and their relationship to governance issues. Based on the main findings of the assessment (summarised in Chapter 6), a policy brief entitled ‘REDD+, Biodiversity and People: Opportunities and Risks’ has been prepared especially for policy- and decision-makers.
The full report is formally presented at Forest Day 6 on 2 December during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Doha, Qatar (26 November-7 December, 2012).
The report, the policy brief and a press release – New Study Suggests Global Pacts Like REDD Ignore Primary Causes of Destruction of Forests – are available for download.
Report and Policy Brief: http://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/biodiv-forman-redd-panel/report/
For more information about the Expert Panel on Biodiversity, Forest Management and REDD+, please visit:
IUCN has launched a campaign, « Plant a Pledge » , and is asking readers to sign the petition at www.plantapledge.com. It takes just a minute of your time!
IUCN is hoping that you will help the campaign by reaching out as widely as possible, by helping to promote the campaign through your networks, through publicising it through the web, social media, presentations and word of mouth.
Plant a Pledge – www.plantapledge.com – is an opportunity for the global public to tell world leaders and land owners that they support the goal to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by the year 2020. The goal is an implementation vehicle for achieving CBD Aichi Target 15 and has become known as the “Bonn Challenge” after it was launched in Bonn, Germany, in September 2011.
The Bonn Challenge target to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 came second when over 1 million people took part in the on-line public Rio Dialogue vote for the most important global recommendation during the recent UN summit in Brazil, “Rio+20”.
Restoring 150 million hectares would inject billions of new dollars into economies every year, and would significantly help mitigate climate change, boost biodiversity and reduce poverty.
The Plant a Pledge petition will gather the signatures from people across the globe, and will be personally delivered by our Ambassador Bianca Jagger to senior delegates at an upcoming high level international meeting, urging land owners and governments to dedicate land to landscape restoration.
Help gather enough signatures to really turn the heads of those leaders and convince them to commit to the Bonn Challenge.
The website www.plantapledge.com will give you lots more information on the campaign and on forest landscape restoration.
Please go there now and sign the petition and urge all your friends, contacts and networks to do the same, by forwarding this message, and ideally also by sharing it through other means.
If you have time to explore the site, you might like to watch the videos, explore the interactive restoration globe, read the case studies and learn more about the issue and the campaign.
Other things you can do to support this important campaign are:
– follow the campaign on twitter: http://twitter.com/PlantAPledge
– ‘like’ the campaign on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/plantapledge
– Tell all your friends, colleagues and networks and ask them to sign, too!
Thank you for your support!