Working in the COVID-19 era: An unfailing commitment to forested landscapes

At the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) scientists are learning to adapt to the new reality of COVID-19.

Some offices and hubs have partially and cautiously re-opened, but the majority of our colleagues – both staff and consultants – are working remotely.

Although our research has been curtailed due to lockdowns, border closures and physical distancing measures, limited fieldwork operations are now underway.

A new task force, building on a pre-existing internal risk-management structure, has been created to help gather data and develop guidelines for conducting research during the pandemic.

CIFOR-ICRAF is collaborating with sister organization, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), to support the government of Kenya’s testing capacity for COVID-19.

Through engagement with the country’s Ministry of Health, ILRI and CIFOR-ICRAF laboratories, equipment, staff and services have been offered to assist national efforts. 

Communications remain a priority; we continue to publish results in scientific journals and on our own platforms, while hosting and participating in a plethora of online webinars and conferences.

Altogether, since March, when the pandemic lockdown began, more than 200 blogs have been published on Forests News in four languages, while reach on our social media portals is 6.7 million — with an average reach on Twitter of 1.3 million every week.

During the same period, about 100 blogs have been published on Agroforestry World. Social media reach since March is at 6.3 million with a 7.1% increase across all platforms.

In March 2020, offices gradually adopted a work-from-home policy and halted local and international travel while essential services such as laboratory operations have been maintained.

We have adapted flexibly and yet efficiently to the new “world of work” while aiming to keep productivity at pre-COVID levels.

Since March, CIFOR-ICRAF has hosted and participated in several local, regional and international webinars and virtual meetings. Teams in China, Vietnam, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Germany have since returned to their offices, while others slowly started essential field operations critical for the delivery of on-going research commitments, under the guidance of the institution’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Wherever in the world we have undertaken fieldwork, it is essential, time sensitive and all precautions to protect staff, partners and communities have been put in place. This is critical for the delivery of on-going research commitments. CIFOR-ICRAF continue to prioritize the health and safety of our staff. We realize that COVID-19 will be with us for years to come and we will continue our tradition of innovation to ensure we remain effective and efficient in the delivery of our mandate.