Posts Tagged ‘poverty alleviation’

Congress Spotlight #17 – Forest outlook: What does the future hold?

Forest outlook: What does the future hold?

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Logs being moved by sea to a sawmill. Major changes in the patterns of demand for logs may result in them being processed in a different country to where they were harvested. (Photo by John Innes)

Logs being moved by sea to a sawmill. Major changes in the patterns of demand for logs may result in them being processed in a different country to where they were harvested. (Photo by John Innes)

Forest researchers from around the world will gather at the IUFRO 24th World Congress in Salt Lake City this fall where one of the issues will be to address the future, and the related challenges, facing forests and forest management in the 21st century.

Providing a sort of scientific crystal ball to give glimpses into the years ahead and discuss how to meet and adapt to coming challenges will be a sub-plenary session at the congress entitled, appropriately enough, “The Future of Our Forests”.

Resources for the Future (, the IUFRO task force behind this session, has set out to examine four major game-changers – globalization, plantations, new products and forest ecosystem services – and what they mean, and will mean, for forests, forest research and forest-dependent communities.

This session is organized by Task Force Coordinator John Innes, dean of the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia, and William Nikolakis, a postdoctoral fellow at the same university.

The task force notes that globalization is having a transformative effect on the use of forest resources and on the companies and communities that extract value from fibre.

Globalization has enabled competitive forestry operations to develop on plantations to the extent that these are becoming a major source of timber and a highly productive forest asset. The task force sees plantations as the most intensively managed forests, able to produce more from less land and inputs and likely to grow faster and be more pest- and pathogen-resistant through selective breeding and biotechnology. And, an increasing reliance on plantations may well reduce the pressure on native stands and help achieve zero net forest loss.

In addition, forests will have an important role as a source of feedstock into bio-products and for timber to meet specific ‘footprint’ standards and thresholds for buildings. While the demand for these new products is in its formative stages, the demand for new products will increase as the green economy takes hold.

An area also in its infancy is forest ecosystem services but, drawing on the expertise of those directly involved in the theory and practice of these services, the task force sees finding markets for forest services that are currently unrecognized or undervalued, and encouraging more holistic forest management as two positive outcomes from this area.

Carbon forestry in Wenzhou, China. This plantation has been established by the China Green Carbon Foundation specifically as a carbon sink, paid for by carbon credits. The management objectives of such forests differ markedly from more traditional forms of forestry. (Photo by John Innes)

Carbon forestry in Wenzhou, China. This plantation has been established by the China Green Carbon Foundation specifically as a carbon sink, paid for by carbon credits. The management objectives of such forests differ markedly from more traditional forms of forestry. (Photo by John Innes)

What will it mean for those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around the forests? The task force thinks:

Forest managers will have to take into account all these changing values and adapt to managing forests for a suite of services, of which timber is only one product.

Policy makers will need to create and support appropriate institutions enabling the trade of ecosystem services and will also need to sort out who owns the services – especially in areas where local and indigenous peoples dispute the ownership.

Researchers will have to recognize the demand for increasingly applied research that can be directly translated into reduced management costs and increased profitability from specialty and niche products. And researchers will also have to face up to providing objective scientific advice on difficult, and sometimes intractable, problems. They will not only have to “think outside the box”, they will also have to “look outside the box” to see the world beyond their own research interests.

The ambition of the task force putting this Congress session together is to understand these four important areas mentioned above that will reshape how forests are viewed and used and the end goal is to contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

A book will be produced by the task force that shares the experiences and perspectives of more than a dozen contributors from across the globe on various aspects of these issues going forward.

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Related Links

IUFRO Task Force on Resources for the Future:

IUFRO Spotlight main page,


IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at:


Spotlight #15 – Planted forests’ roles: Different strokes for different oaks

Planted forests’ roles: Different strokes for different oaks

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Maritime pine in its early stages of plantation (photo by Stephanie Hayes, EFIATLANTIC)

Planted forests are vital but vulnerable resources that can contribute in a sustainable fashion to some of humanity’s most pressing needs – poverty alleviation, food security, renewable energy, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and biodiversity conservation – as well as the preservation of natural forests.

These are among the findings in the recently published Summary Report of the 3rd International Congress on Planted Forests. It is based on outcomes from three scientific workshops and a plenary meeting that took place earlier this year.

Thirty-three countries have greater than 1 million hectares of planted forest area. Together these countries comprise 90% of the world’s 264 million hectares of planted forest which, in turn, equals almost 7% of the total global forest area. The report takes into account key research findings from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Latin America and North America related to vulnerability, viability and governance of planted forests.

It notes the increasing and vital role of planted forests and trees as supporters of those key needs mentioned above; the planted forests’ role in providing industrial wood at a global level; and also stresses the increasing vulnerability of this strategic resource in changing climates.

For policy makers and forest managers, the report is significant for its emphasis on the need for good governance in rural areas. In fact, the report suggests that the phrase “good forest governance” should be replaced, with “good governance of rural areas” since good governance is expected to be comprehensive and inclusive, integrating the demands and priorities of all types of land-users at a landscape level.

The report was undertaken in recognition of the need to secure forest ecosystem services and to adapt forest productions systems – such as planted forests – in the face of worldwide changes, including climate change.

Among its highlights, the report notes that, in terms of poverty alleviation and food security, in many developing countries smallholders and farmers own planted forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. In addition, it says, a large number of people – especially women – gain employment and income from nursery operations, land preparation, plantation establishment, stand management and maintenance and from wood-based industries.

It also points out that wood fuels are the most important energy source and the most important forest product for many developing countries, while in industrialized countries using wood and woody biomass as a renewable energy resource is becoming increasingly popular and is likely to continue its upward trend as a result of high prices for fossil fuel alternatives.

The Congress report strongly emphasized that planted forests should not supplant natural forests, nor should they adversely affect the livelihoods of forest-dependent or indigenous peoples, but should rather complement the roles of natural forests while minimizing competitive effects.

Increased efforts to strengthen commitments to research and development – seen as critical to the sustainable management of planted forests – were called for in the congress report.

The research needs identified came from fields as various as:

  • governance, economics, trade and markets;
  • vulnerability and risk management;
  • ecosystem services and landscape restoration; and
  • from cross-sectorial areas that ranged from poverty alleviation and rural development to climate change and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions.

The full report is available at:  and


Media Contact

Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)


Related Links

Publication: Summary report of the 3rd International Congress on Planted Forests

IUFRO Spotlight main page,

IUFROLAT III Keynote Address Highlights: Peter Holmgren, CIFOR

HolmgrenPeter Holmgren, Director-General of the Center for International Forestry Research, presented his Keynote Address, “Forestry in a landscape approach – developing evidence-based policies”, during the final day of sessions of IUFROLAT III.

Holmgren, presented a series of questions, framing a way forward to position forestry alongside that of other land users to address multi-sector problems in a landscape approach.

In his first question, “what are the policies we need?” he defined what shapes many of the forest policies, not only in Latin America, also on a global scale. These included poverty reduction, nutrition and food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, preservation of biological diversity, and achieving green growth and equity. He outlined how forestry is related to 9 out of 12 sustainable development goals, and we need to think about where forestry can play a role in policies being politically relevant and providing positive contributions.

He transitioned by asking, “how does forestry contribute?” and presented his thoughts on how forestry is portrayed on increasingly large level.  Forestry has become an environmental issue and forestry related questions are often blurred with perceptions of forests on a whole. Topics such as REDD, illegal logging, etc have brought attention to forests, yet fundamentally, they are not forestry issues.  Holmgren proclaimed, “We need to take forestry out of the forest”. He explained how the adoption of a broader definition of the role of forestry, and how it applies to address key issues across a landscape, could be employed.

Expanding on this thought, Holmgren asked the question, “how is a landscape approach different?” In answer, he identified a sustainable landscape framework that focuses on objectives such as; ensuring livelihood provision, sustaining ecosystem services, securing food and non-food products, mitigating pollution and achieving resource efficiency. To do so, we need to see landscapes as a large part of sustainable development, identify multiple objectives and acknowledge that there are beneficial synergies as well as trade-offs. We need to build our work to ensure that local stakeholders are in charge and help strengthen the role of sectors to support them building a holistic landscape.

In order to provide this support, we must incorporate evidence-based approach in our science and policy interface. He answered his final question, “what is different about an evidence-based approach?”,  by introducing new models that identified the importance of satisfying demand by stakeholders for information with relevant, credible forest science research.

Holmgren closed with some take home messages:

  • It is time to take forestry out of the forest,
  • We need a landscape approach to deal with sustainable development challenges; and
  • Our plans for the future must be evidence-based.

IUFROLAT III Keynote Address on 13 June 2013

Forests, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Charting a new research agenda

By Peter Dewees, Forest Advisor, World Bank


Peter Dewees presents his keynote speech. (Photo courtesy of CATIE)

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment defines ecosystem services as the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. And ecosystem themselves are, speaking in economic terms, an asset, while their services would represent the flow of benefits. So paying for ecosystem services, once the benefits have been valued, has become a topic of interest especially with governments.

Ecosystem services are closely related to poverty alleviation, but it might be just a conventional wisdom to think that the deterioration of ecosystem services automatically leads to an aggravation of poverty. As a matter of fact, there is evidence that human wellbeing has been increasing while the environment and ecosystem services are declining. The Human Development Index illustrates this situation. So what are the underlying causes for this disconnect?

It might be that we are measuring the wrong things and disregard important factors, e.g. the time lag between the decline of ecosystems and the impact.

With regard to forests, global forest cover is declining and forest degradation is increasing for many reasons, yet in some rural landscapes tree numbers are growing. For the farmers, trees are important in many ways. In countries like Kenya, for example, they serve as field boundaries. Trees on farms can increase productivity and thus increase household incomes, they also help build resilience due to diversification of species. Trees on farms can build soil carbon.

So, incorporating trees in land management strategies is an important contribution to climate change mitigation. Consequently, what is really needed is to put in place policies to create incentives for better landscape management. Policies need to be informed by good data, and this is where research comes into the picture and the focus should be on fully recognizing the complexity of landscapes.

The data required should fulfil a set of criteria, of course. They need to be representative, suited for being aggregated, up-to-date, policy relevant and address the right questions.

In conclusion, Dewees particularly points out two research areas that should feature more prominently and deliver good data:

a) The role of household environment income with respect to productivity and consumption; risk and vulnerability; and equality;

b) Policy and public finance with regard to how to support farmer based adaptation and how to identify other points of entry such as social safety nets.

IUFROLAT III Keynote Address by Eduardo Mansur, FAO

Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Context

Eduardo Mansur, FAO (Photo courtesy of CATIE)

Eduardo Mansur, FAO (Photo courtesy of CATIE)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The first keynote speaker at IUFROLAT III was Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO’s Forest Assessment, Management and Conservations Division. He talked about “Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Context”.

First, however, he conveyed greetings from Eduardo Rojas Briales, Assistant Director-General and Head of the Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on whose behalf he was giving this presentation.

Mansur started by asking what the world should be like in 2050, when the world’s population is estimated to have exceeded 9 billion people.

Pressure on natural resources and the need for food will have increased tremendously by that time. He identified the following major challenges:

1)      Food

2)      Energy

3)      Climate Change

In order to respond adequately to these, which are in fact closely interrelated, he explained various necessary approaches such as the landscape approach. He also underlined the big potential of restoration for improving the environmental situation without affecting food security.

In view of these challenges, the main objectives of FAO are:

1)      Eradication of  hunger

2)      Elimination of poverty and strengthening of economic and social progress

3)      Sustainable management of natural resources

Part of the response to these challenges is better governance of resources and more social participation. Integration and inter-sectorial approaches are key here. This is also especially true for forest research, which needs a more integrated approach.

Mansur explained concepts and tools that FAO has worked with so far and will continue to use in the future, such as the concept of sustainability, the forest resources assessment (FRA), criteria and indicators, etc.

In conclusion, he identified communication and social networks as a key tool to change people’s often blurred conceptions especially with regard to forest management. Science and research are essential here as they can provide the data and knowledge which will help to do away with erroneous perceptions and trade-offs between  biodiversity and forest  use, for example.