Success stories about food crops and drought-resistant plants





by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

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On-field activities to restore over 800 thousand hectares of peatland


Photo credit: Antaranews

Photo document of the former transmigrant on peatlands that have been burned while monitoring hotspots reappear in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, on Sunday (1 November 2015). (ANTARA/Saptono)

Agency to restore over 800 thousand hectares of peatland areas

Pewarta: Fardah

Two months after its establishment, the Indonesia Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has claimed that it is now initiating on-field activities to restore over 800 thousand hectares (ha) of peatland areas spread across four districts.

“The (restoration) cost is estimated to reach Rp12 million per ha for five years,” BRG Head Nazir Foead informed the press here, Thursday.

The World Bank and the Center for International Forestry Research had estimated the restoration cost to reach between Rp6 million to Rp36 million per ha, he remarked.

Foead explained that the agency had completed the mapping of the peatland areas in the districts of Meranti Islands in Riau; Ogan Komering Ilir and Musi Banyuasin in South Sumatra; and Pulang Pisau in Central Kalimantan, which need restoration work.

Of the 834,491 ha areas, 77 percent lie within cultivation areas while 23 percent are located in protected areas.

During the last two months, the agency had been busy recruiting personnel and outlining ravaged peatland areas that should be prioritized for restoration and identifying 100 villages whose peatland areas need to be developed further, he explained.

The identification process was carried out in cooperation with the environmental affairs and forestry ministry, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), the Information and Geospatial Agency, and NGOs.

Moreover, the agency also continues to work on formulating standard operational guidelines and procedures for preparing infrastructure to provide water to restore and maintain peatlands and nurseries; to conduct replanting activities; and to install borewells.

The locations for conducting the restoration work have been identified and decided based on four criteria: peatland, condition of soil cover, the presence of canals and their impacts, and the history of forest fires over the past five years, according to BRG deputy in charge of planning and cooperation Budi Wardhana.

More detailed mapping of those locations is currently being carried out.

Read the full article: Antaranews

Educating community members on climate-smart agriculture strategies


USAID awards grant to FSM college

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Pacific American Climate Fund awarded a grant to the College of Micronesia-FSM on March 25, 2015, at the Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei office.

The college will receive $556,264 for its Climate Resilient Adoption and Mainstreaming project. The project involves educating community members of climate-resilient agricultural methods in on the island of Yap. Accepting the grant was college researcher Dr. Murukesan Krishnapillai.

According to Krishnapillai, the objective of this project is to “enhance the climate resilience of target communities in Yap; by educating community members on climate-smart agriculture strategies to cope with climate changes and to promote livelihood and food security.”

Krishnapillai said that through a model successfully developed in the village of Gargey on Yap, communities will be trained in small-plot intensive farming, micro-gardening, container home gardening, agroforestry, and integrated farming with livestock.

The Pacific American Climate Fund or PACAMA is a grant-making facility funded by USAID that assists 12 Pacific island countries, including the FSM, to reduce long-term vulnerabilities associated with climate change.

PACAM awards grants to civil society organizations in support of climate change adaptation measures and related “co-benefits,” such as livelihoods enhancement, improved health, food security, improved health, disaster risk reduction, or sustainable natural resources management.

Impact on global ecosystems of shrinking forest habitats

Photo credit: Nature World News

(Photo : Nick Haddad, NC State University)

Shrinking Forest Habitats Impact Global Ecosystems

By Jenna Iacurci

It’s no secret that human activity is transforming our world. For example, increasing development for agriculture or new communities is shrinking forest habitats, and new research shows that this is having a significant impact on global ecosystems.

According to findings published in the journal Science Advances, 70 percent of existing forest lands are within a half-mile of the forest edge, where encroaching urban, suburban or agricultural influences can cause any number of harmful effects – such as the loss of plants and animals.

What’s more, habitat fragmentation – the division of habitats into smaller and more isolated patches – reduces the diversity of plants and animals by 13 to 75 percent, with the smallest, most isolated areas feeling the worst effects.

A team from North Carolina State University decided to track seven major experiments on five continents that examine habitat fragmentation, which covered ecosystems ranging from forests to savannas to grasslands.

“The results were astounding. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forest is the distance of a football field – or about 100 meters – away from a forest edge. Seventy percent of forest lands are within a half-mile of a forest edge. That means almost no forest can really be considered wilderness,” researcher Dr. Nick Haddad explained in a statement.

Read the full article: Nature World News

Forestry and SDGs

Photo credit: CIFOR

A giant Brazil nut tree in the Unamat forest, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru. Brazil nuts form a crucial addition to livelihoods in parts of the Peruvian Amazon. Marco Simola/CIFOR photo

Sustainable Development Goals and forestry: Lessons from Peru



In Peru and throughout the Amazon Basin, people depend on forests for meat, fruits and seeds, medicines, palm fronds for thatch, and many other products.

Those contributions, along with their role in buffering the effects of climate change, make forests crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a proposed global framework for guiding poverty reduction and ensuring a sustainable future.

“Forestry contributes to the solution of development challenges,” said Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia. “Forests can contribute to the elimination of poverty, to food security, to prosperity in the green economy and to energy.”

The SDGs, which will come up for a vote at the UN General Assembly in September,grew out of the Rio+20 conference in Brazil in 2012.


The 17 goals aim to, among other things, eliminate poverty, hunger and inequality while supporting economic opportunity—a significant part of which is the sustainable management of the natural resources on which economic and social development depend.

Only one goal—No. 15—specifically addresses environmental issues, calling for sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable management of forests, and a halt to land degradation and biodiversity loss.

Read the full article: CIFOR

Is the forest an integral part of a human landscape ?

Photo credit: CIFOR

View of the Juruena River, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR photo

It’s a forest, not a ‘museum’: What sustainable development means in the tropics

There are people who live in the forests; there are people who depend upon these forests. Their concerns need to be addressed

A tropical forest: A habitat for wildlife, untouched by humans? Or trees ripe to be cleared for profit?

Or is the forest an integral part of a human landscape: relied on by people for clean water, timber, forest foods, wood fuel, a haven for animals and plants, and a carbon sink for the health of the climate system?

The importance of forest products for tribal women in India -
The importance of forest products for tribal women in India –

Forestry experts argue that this last picture is closest to the true nature of forests – and this is how we must think of them if, as a global community, we are to achieve the new UN Sustainable Development Goals and tackle climate change.

Forests are not just something ‘nice to have’ but an integral part of what sustainable development means in the tropics, according to Louis Verchot, Director of Forests and Environment Research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Read the full article: CIFOR

Tree plantation and natural forest

Photo credit: Google

Tree Plantation Bangalore – Turahalli Forest 07-07-2013

Do tree plantations support forest conservation?

Key messages

  • Tree plantations potentially support natural forest conservation. The main hypothesis for this effect is that tree plantations substitute natural forests for production, especially when plantations achieve high productivity.
  • An exhaustive review of the published literature shows a diversity of analytical approaches with theoretical modeling, econometrics or descriptive statistics as main categories. -
  • This diversity reflects the complexity of translating a simple assumption into models because of the many factors at play. The analysis is all the more necessary as the positive substitution effect is straightforward, but potential negative (as well as other positive) impacts resulting from feedback/indirect effects, e.g. displacement of deforestation or replication of successful policies elsewhere, require more sophisticated methods to be understood.
  • There is a convergence of findings of reduced degradation of natural forests with the expansion of tree plantations, but also potential increased deforestation due to lower market value of natural forests in the absence of logging (or displacement effects).

Read the full article : CIFOR

Investments in rural transformation (IFAD)

Photo credit: IFAD

Farmers in their asparagus field, Attapeu province, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.


Rural transformation: Key to sustainable development


The 38th session of the Governing Council, IFAD’s annual meeting of Member States, will highlight rural transformation as a key to sustainable development. Here is one in a series of articles exploring that theme in the run-up to the meeting.

This year represents a critical juncture for global development. The process of defining new Sustainable Development Goals provides an opportunity to refocus policies, investments and partnerships for more inclusive, sustainable and people-centred development. Consultations on the post-2015 development agenda have already helped give shape to a shared vision: a world where extreme poverty has disappeared, everyone has access to adequate and nutritious food, decent jobs are available to all, and natural resources are preserved and restored.

Smallholder farmers and other rural people have enormous potential to help achieve this vision. Realizing their potential will require increasing productivity, as well as improving their access to markets, finance, technology and information to build more diversified and resilient rural economies. Poverty has multiple dimensions that go beyond low levels of income, consumption and material assets. This is why IFAD targets its investments towards rural transformation – a sustainable and comprehensive level of change that is social as well as economic.

Read the full article: IFAD

Desertification in Zimbabwe: tobacco, logging and charcoal

Photo credit: IPS

Uncontrolled woodcutting in remote areas of Zimbabwe like Mwenezi district has left many treeless fields. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS

Zimbabwe’s Famed Forests Could Soon Be Desert

by Jeffrey Moyo


“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently” – Marylin Smith, independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe

There’s a buzz in Zimbabwe’s lush forests, home to many animal species, but it’s not bees, bugs or other wildlife. It’s the sound of a high-speed saw, slicing through the heart of these ancient stands to clear land for tobacco growing, to log wood for commercial export and to supply local area charcoal sellers.

Tobacco growers in Zimbabwe -
Tobacco growers in Zimbabwe –

According to the country’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, Zimbabwe currently has 88,167 tobacco growers, whom environmental activists say are the catalysts of looming desertification here.

Sheba Forest Estate Sawmill in Zimbabwe. Photo by Juha Kiuru/FAO -
Sheba Forest Estate Sawmill in Zimbabwe. Photo by Juha Kiuru/FAO –

“Curing tobacco using huge quantities of firewood and even increased domestic use of firewood in both rural and urban areas will leave Zimbabwe without forests and one has to imagine how the country would look like after the demise of the forests,” Thabilise Mlotshwa, an ecologist from Save the Environment Association, an environmental lobby group here, told IPS.

“But really, it is difficult to object to firewood use when this is the only energy source most rural people have despite the environment being the worst casualty,” Mlotshwa added.

Zimbabwe’s deforestation crisis is linked to several factors.

Read the full article: IPS

To improve the ecological literacy of future generations

Photo credit: NSF

The Organ Mountains are a backdrop for the Chihuahuan Desert and encroaching city of Las Cruces.

Credit: Curtis Monger, New Mexico State University

Drylands: Desolate, scorched, uninhabitable? Scientists say otherwise

Complex ecosystem is patchwork of grasses, shrubs, agricultural fields, urban-dwelling species, including humans

New ways of looking at dryland ecosystems are detailed in a special journal issue. Credit: Ecological Society of America
New ways of looking at dryland ecosystems are detailed in a special journal issue.
Credit: Ecological Society of America


February 2, 2015

The following is part 17 in a series on the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network.

Visit parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine,10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and16.

Drylands evoke images of desolate, scorched, uninhabitable deserts.

But arid and semi-arid lands are complex ecosystems made up of grasses, shrubs, agricultural fields and urban-dwelling plants and animals, including us.

Globally, drylands are becoming mosaics that need fresh perspectives and explanations for ecosystem processes–views that go beyond traditional paradigms of grassland-to-shrubland conversion, researchers say.

Desertification: new views

Scientists detail findings on new paradigms for dryland ecology and management in the February 2015 issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, published by the Ecological Society of America.

The issue was organized by ecologist Debra Peters, principal investigator of the Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and based at the Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Historically, drylands have been studied through the lens of desertification–the transition from perennial grasslands to landscapes dominated by bare ground or woody plants that are easily eroded and unpalatable to domestic livestock,” says Peters.

However, recent studies show that transitions can occur across a range of environmental conditions and socioeconomic contexts.

These journal papers, says Peters, illustrate how long-term data from Jornada Basin is being used to generate new paradigms for understanding, managing and predicting dryland dynamics across diverse landscapes.

Threats to economic stability, global societies


Read the full article: National Science Foundation



 A shift from shrubland (left) to grassland (right) in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico. Credit: Curtis Monger, New Mexico State University -
A shift from shrubland (left) to grassland (right) in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico.
Credit: Curtis Monger, New Mexico State University –



Livestock grazing was drylands' main ecosystem service to humans; the picture is changing. Credit: NSF Jornada Basin LTER-USDA/ARS -
Livestock grazing was drylands’ main ecosystem service to humans; the picture is changing.
Credit: NSF Jornada Basin LTER-USDA/ARS –



Roots from woody shrubs dominate soil occupied by grasslands 100 years ago. Credit: Curtis Monger, New Mexico State University -
Roots from woody shrubs dominate soil occupied by grasslands 100 years ago.
Credit: Curtis Monger, New Mexico State University –



 Unexplained increases in perennial grasses in shrublands in part led to new drylands paradigms. Credit: NSF Jornada Basin LTER-ARS -

Unexplained increases in perennial grasses in shrublands in part led to new drylands paradigms.
Credit: NSF Jornada Basin LTER-ARS –

If you must cut down a tree, plant back a tree in Nigeria

Photo credit: Pixabay

Coconut trees in St. Lucia

FG Mulls 40m Tree Seedlings to Check Desertification, Erosion Menace

By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja


The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Environment is planning to raise about 40 million tree seedlings annually to curtail the effect of desert encroachment and the erosion menace plaguing the nation.

This was disclosed by the Director, Federal Department of Forestry, Ministry of Environment, Mr. Adedoyin Simon, at a recent tree planting campaign in Abuja.

The event with the theme ‘My Environment, My Pride’, was organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation called Sure Smiles Women and Children Advocacy Initiative, in collaboration with the Ministry.

According to Adedoyin, represented by the Assistant Director, Federal Department of Forestry, Mr. Timothy John, “The ministry is set to raise 40 million plant-seeds to curb these problems. As we aware, if the environment is not safe, human beings are also not safe. So, a lot of campaigns are ongoing to ensure that people begin to know the importance attributed to tree planting.”

“We really commend this bold step of tree planting as we all know that no tree, no oxygen. I appeal to Nigerians to stop the cutting down of trees for firewood as this constitutes a huge problem to our environment which effect brings about erosion and desertification. If you must cut down a tree for one reason or another, ensure you plant back a tree.

Read the full article: THIS DAY LIVE

How to balance protection of the environment with poverty reduction ?

Photo credit : Pixabay

Landscape in Bolivia

Putting a price on nature can benefit the poor if done right

Speed read

  • Programmes that pay landowners to protect the environment can ignore the poor
  • A Bolivian mechanism shows how to balance this protection with poverty reduction
  • But there may always be a trade-off when designing schemes


Bolivia is not alone on that front. Programmes that pay people to sustainably manage ‘environmental assets’ are increasingly popular, especially in the global South. But questions about the money’s impact on efforts to reduce poverty and inequality have persisted for decades. Does the cash help poor or indigenous people living in valuable ecosystems? Or is it more likely to benefit rich landowners? In Bolivia and elsewhere, research is beginning to show that these two goals — environmental protection and poverty reduction — need not be mutually exclusive.

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