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Highlights of 2020: Forests at the forefront of recovery

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CIFOR-ICRAF demonstrated how biodiversity loss and unsustainable wildlife extraction create conditions conducive to viral spread between animals and humans. The connection made between the mishandling of nature and human health, “build back better” became the often-heard refrain of environmentalists and policymakers urging quicker efforts to restore fragile ecosystems. As the pandemic persisted, key U.N. talks on climate change and biodiversity were postponed, but CIFOR-ICRAF held discussions online through various events, presenting research results to help shape national policies. Rights took center stage focused on land tenure, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and gender, as scientists introduced new self-reflexive methods of measuring the impact of projects. REDD+, integrated fire management, conservation of peatlands and blue carbon ecosystems were central to discussions on climate change. All this and more remained on the table throughout the year even as forestry targets under the New York Declaration on Forests were missed and goals under other internationally agreed environmental initiatives appeared in jeopardy. Come the new year, CIFOR-ICRAF scientists will be in the starting blocks, set for a 10-year sprint – or perhaps more of an endurance race – to the finish line, as the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 kicks off.

043eee76-6307-455c-b013-5a3a5508e5ca.png Let’s see whether we can change, together, one step at a time. Nature doesn’t need us, and the Earth will still be there, whether we walk on it or not. fd746583-cb45-4d60-8c09-4b07fb6e60ab.png
- Managing Director CIFOR-ICRAF, Robert Nasi
CIFOR highlights 2020   ICRAF highlights 2020
How nature steps in to refill ‘empty forests’
When prey species, especially large mammals, are taken out of forests through hunting, the balance between pathogens and hosts is altered to the extent that viruses, bacteria that cause disease can jump between different animals and even onto humans.
Biodiversity and reforestation
A post-COVID-19 future requires foresight to build back planetary health
We must learn from the pandemic to avoid future catastrophes, not only from pathogens, but also the environmental, social and financial emergencies and the threats they pose to planetary health, say CIFOR-ICRAF Directors General Robert Nasi and Tony Simons.
Peatlands as a safe haven for rare and threatened biodiversity
From government representatives to local researchers, panelists, with their own varied expertise and passions, highlighted the need for action to save peatlands for their precious biodiversity, climate resilience and human health at GLF Biodiversity.
Sustainable food systems
Mainstreaming natural capital accounting for sustainable food production
To achieve the Green Deal’s goals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and overall human health, the European Union needs to include corporate natural capital accounting in its framework.
Q+A: Nutri-scapes Transformative Partnership Platform a recipe for better nutrition
The need for a profound shift of the global food and agriculture system away from a focus on quantity of food toward providing healthy diets is increasingly recognized.
Supply and value chains
COVID-19 recovery is a chance to improve the African food system
While wealthier people stay inside and practice physical distancing, the economically marginalized risk going out in search of food, making a choice between livelihoods or life in the most extreme cases.
How tree growing can mitigate environmental impact of displacement
Among the many socio-economic and ecological impacts displaced people have had on the landscape in Central Africa is a higher demand for energy, which puts increased pressure on forests and woodlands.
Curbing climate change
How and why to merge ecosystem-based adaption and risk finance
Ecosystem-based adaption means natural solutions to reduce risk exposure to climate-induced hazards, such as floods, landslides, droughts, storms, typhoons or other similar phenomena.
Tree planting critical, but can’t fix climate change on its own
Tree planting has become a ubiquitous feature of the environmental zeitgeist in a bid to slow the climate crisis by capturing carbon dioxide and restoring landscapes.
Tackling inequalities and inequities
Strengthening the resilience of rural women
Gender dynamics within a household — the relations between men and women that influence the division of labour and the use, control and ownership of household resources — can limit women’s participation in decisionmaking.
Men in forests: New book shatters stereotypes
An ethnographer overturns some of the generally accepted parameters which have largely defined gender studies, suggesting that the habits and practices of men warrant greater consideration than they have received to date.
If there’s one thing 2020 has shown us, it’s how we’re all connected. This year, the GLF community advocated for a “One Health” approach to preventing future pandemics and played a key role in informing and shaping the upcoming U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Resilient Landscapes was officially launched in September 2020 at the GLF Digital Forum “Plant trees, save planet?”, and subsequently inspired an important global conversation at the GLF Biodiversity Conference in October 2020 on financing sustainable development and promoting sustainable landscapes, biodiversity and climate-friendly agriculture.

World soil day
#SoilSpectroscopy has the potential to transform the agricultural sector enabling landscape-wide assessments of key indicators #soil and #landhealth in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. #WorldSoilDay #SoilBiodiversity #PlantGrowth
Secret forests: Underground water world
In Java’s cultural heartland, a hidden world of caverns, clear water and mysterious creatures is an ecosystem like no other... but erosion, pollution and overuse threaten to contaminate this geological wonder
Tree Planting Misconceptions
“Plant more trees!” cry global leaders and climate activists who see tree planting as a solution to climate emergencies. But many misconceptions need to be addressed before the “right” conditions for its success are met.
Orphan crops are the key to better diets in Africa: but how to promote them?

Neglected or overlooked local food crops could well be making a comeback into markets in Africa thanks to the work of a consortium of scientists.
Promise for the poor through developing value chains

A new book resulting from a collaboration between CGIAR centres and development practitioners explores the best ways to develop agri-food value chains in support of the poor.
Meeting the food security challenge for nine billion people in 2050: What impact on forests?

Agricultural activities on croplands and pastures occupy 11% and 26% of earth surfaces, respectively, while forests comprise 31% of the earth's surface (FAOSTAT, 2016).
Asynchronous carbon sink saturation in African and Amazonian tropical forests

Climate-driven vegetation models typically predict that this tropical forest ‘carbon sink’ will continue for decades. Here we assess trends in the carbon sink using 244 structurally intact African tropical forests spanning 11 countries, compare them with 321 published plots from Amazonia and investigate the underlying drivers of the trends.
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Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

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World Agroforestry (ICRAF)

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The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) envision a more equitable world where forestry and landscapes enhance the environment and well-being for all. CIFOR-ICRAF are CGIAR Research Centers.

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