Anyone who has walked outside on a sunny day knows that forests and trees matter for temperature, humidity and wind speed. Planting trees speaks to concerns about climate change, but the directly important aspects of the tree-climate relationships have so far been overlooked in climate policy where it relates to forest.
That, at least, is the conclusion of a new review. The authors suggest that the global conversation on trees, forests and climate needs to be turned on its head: the direct effects via rainfall and cooling may be more important than the well-studied effects through the global carbon balance.
Yet, current climate policy only recognizes the latter. While farmers understand that trees cool their homes, livestock and crops, they had to learn the complex and abstract language of greenhouse gasses and carbon stocks if they wanted to be part of climate mitigation efforts. Not anymore, if the new perspectives become widely accepted.Read more
The challenge is massive, but so is the promise. Healing 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested land in Africa will bring countless benefits: fresh air and water, food and energy —the very stuff of survival. It will also build people’s climate resilience, and contribute in a big way to global climate change mitigation goals.
Land restoration aims to bring back ecological functionality to degraded ecosystems. It can be achieved by introducing or allowing trees to grow on landscapes and using sustainable land management techniques such as terracing steep hillsides, minimizing tillage and building structures to stop soil erosion. Curbing free-grazing of livestock and managing water also support land restoration. 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…
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. . .
With population growth and urbanization, the demand for energy from trees is growing rapidly around the world. This demand presents a golden opportunity for wood energy be a force for energy security, sustainable development and greener economies. But this exciting potential can only be realized when the wood energy sector, particularly the one in sub-Saharan Africa, is ‘de-risked’ to become orderly, legitimate and sustainable.
A special event at the recent XIV World Forestry Congress (7 to 11 September, Durban, South Africa) saw a high-level panel of experts discuss the situation of woodfuel and charcoal production, trade and consumption around the world, with a particular focus on Africa. The event titled “More than heat! Wood energy for the future,” went beyond wood as a household energy resource, to its potential—as a modern fuel—to power green growth for national economies. Read more. . .
How do you explain your research work, share your opinion and give recommendations to an important audience so that you can make a difference and get others, including policymakers, to take up your research?
In their editorial review for a special edition of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Mark Stafford Smith of CSIRO and Cheikh Mbow of World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) give compelling examples of the complex challenges the agroforestry researcher works through in analyzing the interactions between people, trees and agriculture. The complexity arises in large part because the interactions happen within dynamic landscapes that are also influenced by policy decisions, market forces, and climate change.
“These social–ecological interactions are not mutually exclusive and require systemic approaches,” say the authors, who based the editorial on the 23 articles published in the special journal edition.Read more. . .
Two centuries ago, Thomas Malthus famously predicted a Hobbesian world of runaway population growth outstripping food supplies, with mass starvation as the ultimate sanction for human profligacy. That he has so far been proven wrong is surely humanity’s most wondrous achievement. Today, over 7 billion of us are alive and fed. Yes, far too many are still not enjoying three square meals a day. But few are threatened with Malthus’ horrible death – even as about 870 million are still chronically food insecure.
But the way many of our bellies get filled is far from ideal. The UN reckons about 2 billion people are missing essential micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. The abundant availability of cheap, nutrient-poor carbohydrates and our age-old craving for sugars and fats are leading to an explosion of metabolic diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that 347 million people suffer from diabetes, over 500 million are obese, and one in three adults has high blood pressure. And this does not just strike the rich world anymore. “In some African countries, as much as half the adult population has high blood pressure,” Margaret Chan, the WHO’s Director-General, said last year. Both under- and malnutrition increasingly affect the same countries. Take India. It has one-third of the world’s under-nourished children – while 10% of its adult population has raised blood glucose levels.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. . .
Around two years ago when the Vision for Change cocoa project opened up a centre in Petit Bondoukou village in Côte d’Ivoire, local farmers were invited to participate in field trials aimed at sustainably improving cocoa yields. Mr Koume Koume was among the first farmers to sign up. Today, his decision to offer up a portion of his cocoa farm for demonstration trials under the project is paying off.
The quarter-hectare section of Koume’s farm in which old and under-producing cocoa trees were grafted with a high-yielding variety has become the talk of the village. Visitors and passers-by marvel at the large, heavy cocoa pods on trees grafted just 18 months ago. And the 40 year-old father of six says he is glad he chose to join the cocoa trials back in October 2010. Read more. . .