New book arms people with knowledge on landscapes in a changing climate

As the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) launched a new book — designed to arm people with evidence and tools for designing climate smart landscapes—its lead editor underscored the fact that we are a long way from achieving sustainable, climate-smart landscapes across the globe.

Dr Peter Minang, the Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at ICRAF, said, however, that “structured interactions, co-investments and negotiations among concerned actors can nudge landscapes towards multifunctionality.” Read more. . .

The landscape approach for meeting the climate challenge: Examples from Africa

A series of eye-opening case studies from Africa take up a 44-page section of a new ICRAF publication that brings together, for the first time, original research and syntheses on landscape approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The programmes analysed in the section seek to put the concept of Climate Smart Landscapes into practice across large productive landscapes. They cover Kenya’s premier tea-growing district, cocoa agroforestry systems in Cameroon, and the Congo Basin Forests that cover 300 million hectares and span six countries in Central and West Africa. Read more…

Prunus africana conservation in the Aberdare highlands: A DW video

new documentary by DW, Germany’s international broadcaster, gives a snapshot of the status of the African cherry tree, Prunus africana, in the Aberdare highlands of Kenya. The bark of P. africana is highly sought after for its medicinal activity, most famously its action against prostate conditions. Liquid extracts of the bark are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (swollen prostate), which can predispose a person to prostate cancer.

Focusing on a traditional healer and two women —a farmer and a biochemistry postgraduate—the video, titled ‘Saving Kenya’s anti-cancer tree,’ chronicles some of the work being done to conserve this valuable but endangered tree species. Read more. . .

Breathing life into degraded landscapes with trees: Restoration in Korea, South Africa and Ethiopia

South Korea, South Africa and Ethiopia are among the many countries around the world that have successfully used or are now applying the power of trees to restore degraded landscapes and bring back life-giving ecosystem services and biodiversity.

The audience at Tree Diversity Day 2014 got insights into the efforts of these countries, and learned that landscape restoration is hard work that needs long-term commitment, spanning the breath of the populace—from the highest levels of government to grassroots communities.Read more. . .

From ‘energy poverty’ towards sustainable tree-based bioenergy

When it comes to energy, countries—and in particular developing ones—could take a strong cue from Europe, where the use of bioenergy has been rising over the past two decades. Aware that the current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable from multiple perspectives, EU countries are increasing their use of renewable energy—including that stored in trees—for varied purposes, including electricity generation from biogas-fired power stations.

“All fossil energy sources have either reached or passed their peak production. Even with new discoveries of oil reserves in Africa, and technologies such as fracking for gas, we are running out of energy,” said Philip Dobie, Senior Fellow at ICRAF.Read more. . .

Positive action on gender supports sustainable development

7malawiagfoodprog
Members of a women’s group in Malawi in their tree seedling nursery

“Women produce up to three-quarters of the food crops grown in West and Central Africa, and their actions, for better or for worse, affect natural resources, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and ultimately shape the trajectory towards sustainable development.

Cécile Njebet, an advocate for women’s rights and currently president of the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests REFACOF network, said this in her invited talk at the ICRAF Science Week 2014 from 8-12 September.Read more. . .

Native trees in African drylands serve as water harvesters

Native trees that dot African dryland areas bring a welcome respite from the tropical sun. In addition, and contrary to old assumptions, they “… may function as water harvesters, contributing to deeper drainage and recharge.” They might thereby help recharge groundwater bodies.

These findings by researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), recently published in the journal Water Resources Research, refute the commonly held notion that trees in drylands worsen water scarcity.Read more. . .

Sustainable land management depends heavily on a farmer’s overall income

Faced with the unreliable weather patterns in a changing climate, high population, and shrinking farm sizes, subsistence farmers in Africa are turning to various coping mechanisms in order to ensure a crop and some income.

A survey in Western Kenya found that sustainable land management methods, such as terracing to control soil erosion, agroforestry, and using manure to improve soil fertility, were being financed with income from off-farm activities. Farmers often raised the money by exploiting communal land to obtain products for sale (so-called ‘Natural Resource Management-based income-generation’), or by working on others’ farms as paid labour.Read more. . .

‘Don’t throw money at farmers’, and other lessons in sustainable multi-functional agriculture

To overcome poverty, hunger and malnutrition as well as their close bedfellow environmental degradation, we would all do well to heed the dozen principles discussed in a new article by Roger B. Leakey. Instead of giving farmers cash handouts, for instance, we would empower them with skills and knowledge. And instead of telling them what to do, we would ask them what it was they needed.

The 12 principles are distilled from the operations of a long-term, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)-led project in Cameroon, West Africa. Initiated in 1998, the project revolves around training communities in agroforestry for the rehabilitation of degraded land, and participatory domestication and commercialization of fruits and nuts from indigenous trees. The project won the prestigious Equator prize in 2012.Read more. . .

How research can improve people’s lives: An interview with Mary Njenga

By Arsene, Ahijah, Hubert, Inna, Mélodie and Sabrina (students at Lycée Denis Diderot, Nairobi).

On 21 March 2014, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) researcher Mary Njenga visited Lycée Denis Diderot (LDD), the French School in Nairobi, and gave a talk at an inter-school conference titled “How to Feed Humanity.”  About 200 students and teachers from three schools including LLD attended this conference. Dr Njenga then sat and answered the students’ many questions about her studies, her achievements and her vision on how research can impact people’s lives. Read more. . .