Fig trees were here when dinosaurs first roamed the planet. And today, just as they did 80 million years ago, Ficus species continue to bring nourishment, shade, water and numerous other gifts to people and plants. What’s more, these trees may help us claw our way out of the ecological conundrums we currently find ourselves in—deforestation, species loss, and even climate change.
In a gripping 224 pages of eloquent writing, Mike Shanahan’s first book, ‘Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future’, brings us the fascinating story of fig trees. From the age of dinosaurs, to pre-history and the age of exploration, and into the present times, the reader learns how these trees shaped the planet and fascinated philosophers, conquerors and commoners alike. Read more. . .
At the launch of the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas, experts shone a spotlight on the astonishing biodiversity in the soil, which supports food production, clean water, human health, and environmental sustainability.
The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas— the outstanding reward of a 3-year global collaboration—was launched on 25 May 2016 in Nairobi. The launch, part of a symposium of the Second United Nations Environment Assembly, provided an opportunity for eminent speakers in the field to discuss the central role soil biodiversity plays in food security, environmental health, and the global sustainable development agenda. Read more…
The soil is the “living, breathing skin of our planet.” It is the basis of food production and essential for clean water, health, greenhouse gas capture and numerous other functions that support life on earth.
Soil biodiversity is intimately connected with all terrestrial life. Thanks to advances in technology and global scientific cooperation, huge strides have been made in our understanding of the dazzling diversity of life forms beneath our feet; and especially that of microscopic bacteria, fungi, and nematodes that are invisible to the naked eye. Read more…
The evidence is clear: For big gains in crop production, our landscapes must become more hospitable to some of the planet’s littlest creatures— its pollinators.
Bees, birds, butterflies, moths and some small mammals transfer pollen from flower to flower, causing fruit to set. This environmental service of pollinators is what secures the harvest of a huge proportion of the world’s food production.
At an invited talk at the Nairobi headquarters of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) on 8 January 2016, Kenyan naturalist and entomologist Dino Martins, the Executive Director of the Mpala Research Centre and Chair of the Insect Committee of Nature Kenya, delved into the intimate links between the world’s food security and pollination. Read more. ..
Back in 2009, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) issued a clarion call for a deep reform of agriculture globally.
“Business as usual is not an option,” the comprehensive, evidence-based global series titled Agriculture at Crossroads, stated boldly.
The IAASTD report urged, among other things, for global agriculture to respect the agroecological principles that had served farmers and nature well since the dawn of farming; practices such as organic farming and agroforestry which supply the nutritional needs of people without harming the natural resource base on which all life depends. Read more. . .
Tree enthusiasts on the move can now identify species as they go, and at the same time gain a deeper understanding of their natural environment, thanks to a new version of vegetationmap4africa (www.vegetationmap4africa.org).
The new version of the map (ver. 2.0), which has been developed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the University of Copenhagen and partners, was launched on 7 September 2015 at the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban. The map is expected to help those involved in landscape restoration to make better decisions on suitable tree and shrub species to.. Read more…
Woodfuel meets around a tenth of the world’s energy demand, with its users overwhelmingly found in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, nine out of ten people—around 760 million individuals—rely on firewood and charcoal as their primary source of energy for cooking, heating and other uses.
In 2007 charcoal was a US$8-billion industry, employing more than 7 million people in the sub-region, according to World Bank estimates. The sector has been growing by around 3 percent annually since the turn of the 21st century, according to FAO data. Woodfuel as a source of energy, commerce and employment makes it an important socioeconomic asset to the continent. But woodfuels, and particularly charcoal, are also clouded by controversy and obscure regulation.Read more. . .
“The world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development … to an ‘ecological intensification’ approach,” states the UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013 released yesterday (18 September 2013) in Geneva. “The required transformation is much more profound than simply tweaking the existing industrial agricultural system.”
The new report, titled “Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate,” is a clarion call for drastic changes to agriculture globally in order to combat hunger and curb further damage to the environment in the face of a changing climate. Read more. . .
“In one of our project sites in Cote d’Ivoire, a university graduate recently went back to his family’s cocoa farm of his own accord,” Christophe Kouamé said, to make the point that new technologies can make farming more appealing to young people.
The senior scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and manager of the public-private partnership called Vision for Change was speaking at an ICRAF side event at the Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) in Accra, a city with a large interchange (roundabout) named after Tete Kwashi, the man who first introduced cocoa in Ghana in 1879. Read more. . .
It is not a very old term, yet a google search of Evergreen Agriculture returns over 10 million hits. What exactly does it involve?
“Evergreen Agriculture is a form of intensive farming of crops with the right trees,” explained Jonathan Muriuki, a Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “The ‘doublestory’ system has both food crops and trees, and means higher crop productivity and a diversified income base for farmers. It brings numerous environmental benefits too.”