World Environment Day (WED) Celebration held on 5th June, 2017 under the Theme “Connecting People to Nature” in Benin City, Nigeria

Peace Report Nigeria

Picture and article by Peace Ikponmwonba

The World Environment Day (WED) held at Ramat Park, Ikpoba Hill, Benin City, Edo state, Nigeria was indeed a success. Participants included the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Noghehase Obaseki; Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities, Edo state, Mr. A.I. Omoruyi; Director of Ogba Zoo, Sir Andy Ehanire; Head of Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Dr. G.U. Emelue and other notable staff/lecturers of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Benin, amongst others.

Effect of environmental degradation on biodiversity and its remedy to ensure environmental sustainability

The guest speaker of the event was Chief Giwa Bisi Rodipe, (the Nigerian tree planter) who gave a lecture on the “Effect of environmental degradation on biodiversity and its remedy to ensure environmental sustainability”.

Chief Giwa Bisi Rodipe gave an extensive lecture on environmental degradation as the disintegration of the earth or deterioration of the environment through consumption of assets, for example, air, water and soil. He noted that the environment belongs to all living beings and thus is important for all as everybody is affected by environmental issue like climate change, global warming, depletion of the ozone layer dwindling forest resources, energy resources, loss of global biodiversity etcetera.

He also stated the contributions of forestry to national economy, challenges of forest resources in Nigeria, causes of environmental degradation, effect of environmental degradation on biodiversity, human activities and their effects on environment, and the need for forest conservation in Nigeria stating that “a fast-track nationally subsidized tree planting investment programme of 1,000,000,000 (one billion) trees annually for 10 years to increase Nigeria forest land area from the present 2% to 40% and have a sustainable forest management structure put in place is a solution to the ongoing mindless deforestation and mismanagement of our forest”.

He said “national forest policy without national will and national commitment will be meaningless”.

Keynote address by the Executive Governor of Edo state

The Governor stated that the WED theme encourages us to get outdoor and visit nature to appreciate its beauty and significance and to take forward the call to protect the earth that we all share dearly. He noted that the amount of illegal logging and deforestation in Edo state particularly in the last few years is alarming and as a government they will not allow this to continue to happen.

First thing they have done is to create a separate Forest Commission and set up a separate arm of the Ministry, an agency for parks and gardens while creating more parks. He said that they have also set up a Green-squad who will work with the Forest Commission on a target that within the next four years, over 250,000 trees will be planted in Benin City. They are also planting five hectares of forest trees in five Local Government Areas in Edo state as well as acting on the issue of flood and erosion, sanitation and urban renewal.

Lastly, he concluded that the environment should be our concern and not just the responsibility of the government alone but each and every one of us should join the global effort in saving the mother earth for our sake and that of our future generations.

Goodwill messages by Dr. G.U. Emelue and Sir Andy Ehanire

According to Dr. G.U. Emelue, the people and communities must have a role to play in forestry and must be a stakeholder in all these so they will have the consciousness to protect it.

Sir Andy Ehanire made reference to the damage done to Ogba zoological gardens as a result of encroachment, illegal logging etcetera. He stated that the Forestry Commission will be an important forestry landmark in Edo state, Nigeria.

The event cumulated with a joint tree planting exercise in the park.

The author, Peace Ikponmwonba, is a graduate of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria and a Member of the IFSA Online Editorial. peikponmwonba(a)gmail.com

Reflections on the Asia Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) in Bogor, Indonesia

APRM group photo

Picture and text by Yenyu Lin (Taiwan); link to video recorded interview by Mahtuf Ikhsan (Indonesia)

The Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) offers students from the Asia-Pacific Region the unique opportunity to engage and interact with members from other Local Committees. Not only does the meeting enable the delegate to engage in cultural and languages exchange, it also helps to build and cultivate friendships and develop long-lasting memories.

This year, the APRM was organized by the LC from Bogor Agriculture University from Indonesia, with the theme ‘Forest Value towards Sustainable Development Goals’. The event was officially opened on May 15th . The opening ceremony started with a traditional dance of Indonesian cultural groups, followed by a key-note by the Minister of Environment and Forestry. During individual sessions, speakers aimed to enhance the student’s understanding of the Indonesian forest sector.  The program further consisted of several forestry-related public lectures on the theme ‘Peatlands Matter’, which was meant to provide an international overview of the important role of peatlands and current issues related to their preservation, such as peatland fires that subsequently cause air pollution. The program further included a poster session and short presentations where the participants presented their research.

The program further consisted of several field trips. For example,  to the Gunung Walat University Forest in Sukabumi West Java. The tour provided the students with insights into the management of the university forest. On day three, the group gathered in Gunung Walat, where participants were given the chance to learn about the culture and traditions of the local indigenous (of Indonesia at Sindang Barang Cultural Village) For example, the traditional use of bamboo for the construction of housing and the maintenance of these traditional buildings. Other field trips included a tour in the Bogor Botanical garden.

Filled with traditional songs and dances from different represented countries. Time flies but memories and friends last. The event allowed us to return to our homes with a widened perspective on the forest sector in the Asia-Pacific region and an understanding of the importance of cultural integration and development of strong relationships with students from different places.

The Author, Yenyu Lin, is a third-year student in Forestry at National Chung Hsing University (Taiwan) and responsible for the content of the above contribution. Yenyu can be reached via e-mail under: qwsd9087)(a)gmail.com

Mahtuf Ikhsan, student at Bogor University and member of the APRM organizing committee, conducted an interview with Dr. Petrus Gunarso, ex-Sustainability Director and current advisor with Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL Group) during the event. The company is a developer of fibre plantations and a producer of pulp and paper, with operations mainly in Indonesia and China. Mahtuf interviewed Dr. Gunarso about the current role and vision of the APRIL group in promoting sustainable forest operations.

Link to the video-recorded interview below:

 

 

 

NARM 2017 in Ghana, a Personal Experience

COLORS N CODES-35-1

Picture and text by Ositadinma Evaristus

The long awaited Northern Africa Regional Meeting (NARM) took place at the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Bhrong Ahafo region, Ghana. The event with the official title ‘Improving resilience to climate change and sustainable use of forest, land and Water resources: the role of the youth’ was attended by over one hundred participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Malawi. The organizing committee of NARM 2017 did an excellent job in planning the event. There was never a dull moment and the meals were simply fantastic! NARM was an exquisite opportunity to learn, unlearn, relearn and expand one’s Forestry network. I was able to do so and I am sure other participants did as well.

Within minutes of arriving I felt that this event was going to be explosive. The opening ceremony was top notch and covered by media houses like JOY TV, ADOM TV and GREENA FM. The highlights of the opening ceremony were motivating speeches from Dr. Emmanuel Marfo (a former president of IFSA) and Professor Harrison Dapaah (vice chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources).

We then reconvened for a session on climate change with special focus on Africa’s changing climate condition. Further talks were delivered over the next days by renowned researchers, such as Dr. Ernest Foli, a senior fellow at Forest Research Institute Ghana (FORIG). His session focused on “Global climate change outlook and possible causes, vulnerability of the natural environment to global climate change and capacity development of participants on adaptation to climate change impacts”. The session was very interactive, and participants spoke on the peculiarity of climate change issues in their locality and offered possible solutions to problems raised by other participants.

The program also included an entrepreneurship training with Mister Vitus Dono. His session was geared towards training participants on setting up and running a profitable green business. Participants were distributed into groups. By fate or luck, I led group one, the most culturally diverse and innovative group.  As a group, we developed a blueprint for a renewable energy company that would regulate energy production and consumption in Africa and other parts of the world. We dubbed it: “Africa Renewable Company”.

On day four, all participants convened for a training session on proposal writing which was sponsored by IUFRO. We were amazed by the hidden politics and considerations taken during the review of proposals by various funding organizations before selecting beneficiaries. We were divided into three groups and the session leader, Professor Joseph Cobinnah gave us challenging problems about sustainable forest management. He then asked each group to present a proposal. The session helped us to bond as a group and expose our weaknesses. It made us better at pitching ideas and improved our proposal writing skills.

In the afternoon lecture Professor Femi Akindele , motivated participants on the need to spread news about Africa’s rapidly disappearing forests, emphasizing the various roles we can play in climate change mitigation efforts, particularly  via social media. Some participants were selected and we spent about an hour at the studios of GREENA FM informing and educating the people of Ghanaian about climate change.

On the last day, all participants were invited to join a field trip to Mim-Bour forest reserve which is located on massive rocky terrain. After one hour of hiking, we were greeted by an absolutely beautiful sight- an almost unending stretch of lush green rain forest. The forest provides clean air and abundant natural resources to the native people. On the lofty heights of Mim-Bour, we had a panel discussion focusing on how the Northern Africa Region of IFSA can best contribute to the growth and expansion of IFSA, as well as focusing on how to solve various challenges faced by IFSA Local Committees in the region.

The meeting closed with another grandiose gathering; the IFSA international night. The evening was colorful, fun and enlightening. We learned unique Kenyan dance steps, Ghanaian war chants, Makossa dance skills of the Congo, the importance of palm wine and kola nuts to the Sierra Leoneans, the unique meals and delicacies from Tanzanian and Malawian kitchens and about the cultural diversity of Nigerians. We had great time learning, unlearning and relearning.

Will I see these amazing people again? I believe and hope so.

Daalu nke oma Ghana. Thank you, Ghana

Daalu nke oma IFSA. Thank you, IFSA.

For comments or questions please contact the author Ositadinma Evaristus, a recent graduate of Forestry and Wildlife Technology from the Federal University of Technology Owerri Nigeria. He is currently training with the Imo State Zoological Gardens, Nekede, Owerri, and can be contacted via evarsergio(a)gmail.com.

Interview with IFSA Statutes Councillor Salina Abraham on her Exchange Experience in Europe

by Meike Siegner

 

Pictures: Salina Abraham

Salina Abraham has been an active member with IFSA since 2015 and currently serves at Statutes Councillor with IFSA International. As part of her Environmental Science and Resource Management Program at University of Washington (Seattle) she chose to spend one year in the Netherlands to study Economics. For the Tree News she reported on her exchange experience in Europe and the insights she gained by combining both economic and natural resource management perspectives in her studies.

Can you provide us insights into why you chose to pursue exchange studies at a European University?

 About a year ago, when I was three months away from my graduation in Environmental Science and Resource Management at University of Washington, I decided that I wanted to double major in Economics. That was a big decision for me that arose out of my interest in studying the interface between people and the environment. I always knew that I wanted to learn Economics at some point, but I had imagined it as a hobby – something fun to do during retirement. However, based on my desired career direction (environmental policy), I quickly realized it made sense to understand Economics earlier rather than later. Economics is the study of how humans manage resources and I felt like understanding the development of this discipline would be important.  Even though it has a limited focus on natural resources, I felt that knowing the logic, frameworks, and models would be useful in my future career in environment and sustainability field.

I also knew that I didn’t want to study it in America. Mostly, because I did not want to learn conservative, classical economic thought and the Netherlands was attractive to me because of their social policies. I had thought that, for the most part, you can’t come to a country with a very progressive social safety net and then teach, for example, “taxes are really bad!.” I wanted to explore the ways that economics could contribute to these social policies. So, I was hoping that a different political environment would result in a less conservative and potentially more progressive economics learning environment, which could, hopefully, translate into a different take on natural resource economics as well. Those were the thoughts that led to my decision to pursue my exchange studies at Tilburg University, in the town of Tilburg with around 200.000 inhabitants. They allowed me to complete my final year before graduation abroad, which tends to be rare.

And did you feel that the different economic environment in the Netherlands influenced the way the subject was taught?

Well, in general the economics literature is very conservative. You can’t escape it but you can have a professor who understands the differences in application and highlights the limitations of theoretical models, that is its application in reality versus practice by pointing out limits when it comes to applying economic models and frameworks in real-life situations. I’ve seen professors identify the points of breakdown for frameworks more here than in the United States, which is refreshing. However, my disappointment with the program here was primarily that it was a classic Business and Management School and there was a huge shortage in terms of any environmental application to economics, or a perspective that would combine human economic behavior and the environment. I started out with one environmental econ course and I ended up dropping it because it is the same material that we had already covered in an environmental science major as an undergrad. One thing that I did fall in love with though, outside the standard courses, was taking development economics, which I truly love. Development Economics is essentially the study of poverty and how it can be relieved.

One course I’m taking this quarter looks at the power of randomized control trials to determine the effectiveness of certain poverty interventions in many fields. I found this really appealing as it finally allowed to me to quantitatively study livelihoods. The exploration of livelihoods is what I felt I was missing when studying only environmental science and what drove me to economics. I absolutely loved having this class and dissecting literature on the influence of microcredits on individual decision-making in agriculture or energy use. Bringing the math and quantitative data into the questions that we discuss in environmental science but in very ‘fuzzy’ terms was exhilarating for me. Taking that science beyond the soil and trees and into the people was something I loved.

With respect to the environmental and sustainability discourse, did you experience any difference between Europe and the United States?

 The biggest shock for sure is lifestyle differences. Coming from the U.S., I learned, for example, how to live in a smaller space and I started to bike a lot. I miss my car in some ways but my carbon footprint has changed radically here with an excellent public transportation system. You can’t escape a lifestyle change when coming to Europe. The food aspect is also very interesting. There are so many local stores, farmer’s markets and bakery’s, centrally located, which I had not experienced before that.  In addition to lifestyle, I noticed a greater international awareness among people that seems to be absent in the United States. People in Europe know about a variety of political systems, events on the news, and understand a sense of interconnectedness largely because of the interactions within the European Union. This type of diverse global knowledge doesn’t exist in the States in the same way. In the US, the average person does not know about global politics. Whereas here they do and it is integrated into media, and as a result, discussions and I think that this has an influence towards the acceptance of environmental issues and sustainability as a whole. Simply because people recognize the interconnectedness of different countries and people and the impact of various countries and policies on the other. Maybe it is a European Union thing but in that sense I found that there is a general openness. Even if the average person does not know a lot about the environment, they may still digest the issue in a different way than the average American would.

How did you experience being involved with IFSA at the European level?

I regularly attended the coffee hours and I oversee the Northern European Region as councilor during the past five months. What is shocking to see is how much larger the organization is in Europe and how very well established. There is history in LC’s that didn’t exist with IFSA for me in North America. In my home university, we are only two years old. I also think that there seems to be a greater variety in forestry practices in Europe which is reflected in the organization. It seems that there is a lot more to discuss in  Europe with respect to forest management history and practice in different countries, compared to North America. You can definitely see a greater exchange in historical and technological knowledge and ideas in Europe.

With this exchange experience in your pocket, what are your plans for the near future?

My plan is to graduate in the next few weeks and finish my thesis. I am still undecided whether I want to pursue a job at this point. I may start my masters at the Wageningen University in a few months. I could easily imagine staying longer in Europe and Wageningen University represents exactly what I wanted to study when I went on this exchange. I would look at doing a focus on Economics within the Environmental Science masters. This exchange has been great in providing me with basic economic knowledge and a different context for application. Now I want to get it from a focus on the environment, people and agriculture. I think that’s the right next step. It is just a matter if I will do it this September or in a few years. Either way, the year ahead will be full of learning.

Meike is the current Head of Publications with IFSA and the founder and Editor in Chief of the Tree News. She can be reached under meike.siegner.ifsa(a)gmail.com

Looking back: what were the key results of the 46th intersessional UNFCCC conference? And what about forests?

 

by Naomi van den Berg

Now, a week after the finalization of the 46th intersessional climate change conference of the United Nations, plenty of time for reflection has passed. This means it is time for a good recap of the conference.

Such an international, multi-stakeholder platform may seem pretty overwhelming. Lots of different topics and documents were discussed, many of which require a second, third or fourth (or umpteenth time, no one is judging) thorough reading. Granted, with a few ‘wait, what does this acronym stand for again?’ moments before they start to make sense. Therefore, for you, the fellow foresters, I composed a short overview of the key achievements reached at this conference, both at the general level and the more forest-specific level. Hopefully, this will help you get more familiarized with what exactly happens at UNFCCCs and what IFSA’s contribution to this conference has been. Ultimately, basically, why the F in UNFCCC should stand for forest instead of framework.

 

Alright, so the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) embodies the climate talks done at an international (and multi-stakeholder) level. Diplomats flying over from all parts of the world gathered this month in Bonn, Germany, in order to further prepare themselves for the next Conference of Parties (COP), of which the 23rd edition will take place November this year. Indeed, meeting once a year at the COPs alone is not enough to discuss something as complicated and dynamic as climate change. These intersessional meetings – even though they may seem less cool than the COPs – are now vital for the success of the execution and operationalizing the Paris Agreement. A pretty indispensable underdog of a conference if you ask me.

 

So okay, operationalizing… yet another fancy word. What it means is the following: the Paris Agreement needs to be implemented, and for this to happen in clear pathways, we also need a very, very clear set of rules. This set of rules, however, has a deadline: namely COP24 (November 2018). You may think: ‘ah, well, that is pleeeeenty of time! No sweat!’ Well, yes sweat. Because the negotiations leading up to such official, binding documents are slow. Although this progress may be slow, it is definitely steady.

 

A special aspect about this UNFCCC, is that it was the first one that took place in the ‘era’ of Trump’s administration. Peculiar? The USA sent a way smaller group of delegates to Bonn (a mere 7 as opposed to 44 last year). Trump, a climate change skeptic, now leader of a big country that significantly steers climate change’s future course. The same guy promised his voters to pull the USA out of the Paris Agreement[1]. And yes, this fact led to an increased level of uncertainty among those countries whose representatives actually do care about the celebrated and deemed ‘historic’ Paris Agreement. But everyone realizes that this historic value of the Paris Agreement lays in the fact the large actors, the big guys, all ratified it. With the leading greenhouse gas emitter, the USA, pulling out of the contract, the fear of a potential domino effect is not a completely irrational one.

56

Trump pulling the plug out of the Paris Agreement?

 

However, besides some worrisome signs, the actual pulling of the plug has not been done yet. And maybe, Trump will take the subtle hint provided by the Pope (May 24th, a few days ago) and actually never live up on his campaign pledge. For now, we remain hopeful, with a slight yet incessant eye on the USA.

 

Okay, so this set of rules, what do they govern? They mainly govern matters of communicating, monitoring and financing climate mitigation (reducing factors leading up to climate change) and adaptation (alleviating response to climate change impacts) efforts. How will countries be held accountable for their promises? How can the most successful transfer and transparency of technology be realized? What about tracking and registering carbon emissions? A start to formulating these rules was made at the COP22 conference, a year after the Paris Agreement was born at the COP21 conference.

 

The official concluding statement released by UNFCCC[2] outlines the many more in-detail stepping stones that were achieved during this intersessional. For example, further boarding up of rules regarding adaptation was accomplished through interactive Technical Expert Meetings on Adaptation (TEMA). And yes, we were able to contribute to these sessions, facilitated by Musonda Mumba –important figure within UNEP – in which we were able to ask questions to the country delegates present, but also to those representing non-governmental organizations (such as the private sector). Our contributions, as stated by Mumba, would be processed in the official documents that serve as the basis of COP23. This may sound pretty far-fetched, but this type of platform did allow us, the foresters, to ask questions about for example (trans-national) forest management. After all, both climate mitigation and adaptation cannot exclude forests.

 

The conference was concluded with a lengthy plenary session, in which each of the agenda items + amendments to the documents, such as SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice), were taken to the floor for each country to give some final comments on. For example, one of the stepping-stones reached in this conference was successful furthering the negotiations regarding the Paris Agreements’ goal to enhance transparency[3].

 

However, some obstacles are often still in the very fundamentals of the commitment associated with the Paris Agreement. For instance, the nature of certain commitments is formulated as “on a voluntary basis”, which of course is very much up to the country’s own interpretation. The legal pretentions are frankly countless to a law layperson like me.

Another light in an otherwise dark and twisty tunnel that is called climate finance, is offered in the form of a 800 million euro donation by the European Union for the sake of “increasing cooperation” to struggling countries in the Pacific region (this region will be in the spotlight the next COP, as it will be organized by Fiji).  This fund is i.a. meant to help climate adaptation and mitigation strategies in this region get off the ground.

 

And now, more specifically of interest to us, the foresters: what about carbon? A big point on the agenda for this intersessional conference in Bonn was Article 6 of the Paris Agreement regarding the formulation of a global carbon stock market. Carbon pricing is a difficult discussion and we expect that this discussion will take some time to be finalized, however, current issues with the concept have been identified and captured in the informal notes. This will form an important basis for the continuation of the discussion during COP23. This discussion has included mentions of capturing carbon and the idea of negative carbon emissions (see my blog post: Carbon, carbon, carbon and a billion trees). And yes, capturing carbon requires some serious (re)considerations of forest restoration and management.

 

Alright, now, let’s come back to IFSA’s part in all of this. In particular during technical expert meetings, IFSA’s voice was heard. These meetings often allowed for a more in depth discussion, as they are ‘technical’ in nature. These meetings often take more than a day and discuss a specific part of the APA (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement) to ultimately ameliorate it or complement it.  Representing forestry students, we found it important that our voice was heard and actively reciprocated. This way, we put pressure on the international community at the UNFCCC to talk about forests.

 

So yes, forests will be discussed during the next big climate conference: COP23. And I am eager to see how this discussion will translate to a bigger inclusion of forestry in supranational climate adaptation and mitigation policies! I hope by now you are too. Let the F in UNFCCC stand for Forest!

___________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] The US delegate did restate during this intersessional that Trump is not planning on continuing the USA’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund – the previously promised 2 billion dollar will most likely be cut.

Hirji, Z. (2017, May 19). Fight Over Fossil Fuel Influence in Climate Talks Ends With Murky Compromise. Inside Climate News. Retrieved from https://insideclimatenews.org/news/18052017/paris-climate-talks-fossil-fuel-influence-conflict-interest

[2] http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2017/apa/eng/l02.pdf

[3] More specifically: the ‘enhanced transparency framework’, as was formulated in the Paris Agreement. Van Asselt, H., Weikmans, R., Roberts, T., & Abeysinghe, A. (2016). Putting the ‘enhanced transparency framework’ into action: Priorities for a key pillar of the Paris Agreement.

 

The Nubian Vault Association – a way towards an environmentally & socially just society

 

by Celina Schelle

In light of the many meetings and presentations about what needs to be done, side events about ongoing initiatives and success stories were very refreshing and motivating! Yes, we are not only negotiating about an abstract future, there are quite some people engaged in creative problem solving bringing us ahead towards a more environmentally and socially just society.

12

During a side event on how Senegal is implementing its NDCs, I was very pleased to find out about the Nubian Vault, an association specialized in low cost eco-housing. Due to deforestation and population growth timber is a scarce resource and there is increasingly little available for construction. Additionally, Senegal wants 30% of its energies to be renewable by 2030. Restoring carbon stock through green housing demonstrates a major way to achieve this. The Nubian Vault houses are based on old traditional construction techniques using simple tools and skills which make it above all very affordable. The life cycle assessment of the buildings construction reveals very low carbon emissions, amongst others, due to their high energy efficiency.

One speaker working for the Association explained that they spent about 17 years on spreading the concept across the countries mainly through awareness raising as well as technical and entrepreneurial vocational training in villages. Even the topic gender has found a place in the project – according to one of the speakers mainly women are participating in these trainings. Until today they have constructed over 2000 houses and are making homes for people in over five countries, besides Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Benin. The Senegalese government has also recognized the potential of the Nubian Vault to foster sustainable development and is densifying the market with subsidies. Meanwhile a partnership with the ministry of environment is well established.

While this is a wonderful example of how to reduce emissions, preserve the environment and decrease poverty without financial constraints stagnating progress, there are many other initiatives with great potential which do not yet have a clear picture of how to realize them without financial support. It is not that we do not have enough ideas, there are many creative people out there. Therefore, we need to make sure that subsidies and funds are going into the hands of those who can make a change. We need to stop losing ourselves in environmental politics and allocate resources to the people who are ready to go!

 

 

 

 

Agroforestry – disclosure of potentials and challenges to Finance Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

by Celina Schelle

 

Agroforestry, combining adaptation and mitigation, has been the repeatedly suggested solution to address agriculture and deforestation in the light of climate change and increasing populations. The question of how to finance agroforestry initiatives has been answered by several experts with a discussion on the potential of impact investments.

What does impact investment mean? Impact Investors can range from retail investors and enterprises to banks, while recipients can be microfinance institutions, SMEs and small farmers. They are beyond the return in form of profits concerned about the sustainability aspect of their business as well as their positive contribution to nature conservation. Every business depends on natural resources; therefore, their sustainable use is an investment into the future.

While returns in form of profits may reveal after 3-5 years, impacts on nature conservation and biodiversity are a lot more difficult to monitor and measure. Moreover, they do take a longer time to show results and bear risks of uncertainty about outcomes. During a side event on the potential from reforestation Peter Saile from GIZ pointed out: “There is money out there, but impact investors need to be attracted.”

Efforts into the measurement of the value of nature and ecosystem services as well as the increased sharing of respective data need to be accelerated. Access to such, data is especially lacking in developing countries and once there, results are often insufficiently communicated.

Additionally, the entire chain of benefits does not yet seem to be well understood. During a presentation on Private Capital to finance Forest Conservation and Biodiversity, Speakers from ORO Verde promoted the analysis of risk reduction potentials of environmental and social improvements”, thereby referring to advantages of agroforestry to ensure healthier lives and better nutrition through changes in ecosystem structure. The interlinkages between food security, health and climate change mitigation and adaptation are not well understood by society.

We need to measure the contribution of agroforestry in building resilience and make this knowledge accessible! Only when impact investors can see the full potential of investments and farmers realize the full advantages of agroforestry, a transformation of the agricultural sector can be accelerated!

Carbon, carbon, carbon & billions of trees

by Naomi van den Berg

The UNFCCC showers you with a number of fancy words that get repeated endlessly: mitigation, adaptation, facilitation, framework, negotiations, and – of course – carbon. Carbon, the element of life, has drastically changed its reputation in the past few decades or so, turning out to detrimentally change our climate. But this is no news (except for the skeptics among us – hi Trump!). Now, there are two ways to go about this carbon issue: we either increase our energy efficiency in order to limit our carbon emissions, and/or we capture the carbon from the air, aiming for a so-called ‘negative emission’. A negative emission, counter intuitively perhaps, means climate utopia:  it describes a situation in which more carbon is taken up from the air than is emitted. Fantastic, but how could we ever realize this negative emission?

Well, as you may have guessed, trees contribute to the answer. At the session called ‘Protecting and Restoring the Global Forest Carbon Stock’, a joint-effort between Greenpeace and Rainforest Foundation Norway, a number of experts shared their experience in research and outreach on the matter. All speakers agreed: in order to reach the Paris Agreement goal of staying under 1.5 °C, we need to address the forests. More specifically, we need to address ghosts of forests. As spooky as this may sound, a promising opportunity lies ahead.

The greatest potential of carbon storage lies in degraded/deforested lands (please see the graph below provided by one of the speakers: Lars Laestadius). Often, these have been cleared to make way for pasturelands; those no longer serving an agricultural purpose often remain grassland systems due to the intricate dynamics of alternative ecosystem equilibria (for the hardcore forest fanatics among us, I highly recommend reading Scheffer et al., 2001). Grasses, of course, capture way less carbon than woody plants do.

 

1

The good news is that these lands of opportunity occur all over the world, and – according to the speakers – mostly in the African continent. The biggest opportunity lies in the so-called mosaic-type of restoration: a mix of people, crops, animals and forests. However, as the speakers stressed, we need to redefine the type of forest we aim for during restoration: we need to deviate from forests in the classical sense (pristine and ‘untouched’ by humanity), simply because the most effective forest restoration strategies have actually proven to be those that involve the local communities and allow them to take part in sharing the many benefits of the forest.

All speakers agreed: let’s not underestimate the potential of forests: especially the ghosts of forests. And: success in restoration efforts can only be achieved if local benefits are granted.

Protecting and restoring the global forest carbon stock

 

by Steffen Dehn

The IFSA delegation attended a side event that dealt with protecting and restoring the global forest carbon stock. The first panelist dealt with the topic in the European context. The panelist started off with the fact that currently, in the EU there is zero net forest cover loss. He went on highlight the importance of achieving negative emissions in Europe and how forest will play a significant role in achieving this goal. Germany increased its carbon stock by 10% over the period from 2002 to 2012.

While there is a lot of data available which enables Germany to create good projections which allow for better planning, it is still sometimes difficult as crucial information like soil information, dead wood pools and others are not collected. With these projections, it gets easier to understand trad offs of different scenarios like how a focus on carbon sequestration will affect biodiversity. He pointed out that while the EU doesn´t really have much of a plan on how to achieve that, the EU still tries to tell other countries how they should manage their forests and increase carbon stock.

It was mentioned that local people are often seen as a threat for the forest but it is often not taken into account that they could also be driver of sustainability and sustainable forest management. To meet the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement, deforestation has to be halted and carbon stock has to be increased.

One of the panelist elaborated the main points and goals of good restoration practice which were the following:

  • Increase carbon content
  • Promotes biodiversity
  • Respects local people’s rights
  • Promotes food security

Lars Laestadius from the swedish university of agricultural science had two questions over-arching his presentation which were straight forward:

Restore forest where and how?

To answer the where question, he presented a  map that showed the potential forest extend  if only climate and soils decided in contrast to the actual forest extent. He highlighted the need and opportunity to restore forest as well as constraints due to population and croplands. According to him, there are restoration opportunities all over the world, especially in Africa. The study he presented sees the biggest opportunity (74%) in mosaic restoration which means that the forest landscape will be a mix comprised of people, farmland and other land uses and not only forests.

wom

Source: http://www.bonnchallenge.org/content/global-opportunity-map

To answer the how question he first raised the point that in the past, there were large scale planting and restoration projects that didn´t go so well. He elaborated several points to show how future project could take into account errors from the past to build better futures.

His points were the following:

  • Focus on landscape -> think and plan in terms of large scale and long time and have a diverse set up within the mosaic.
  • Restore ecological functionality –> preserve and enhance ecosystem services
  • Allow for multiple benefits
  • Recognize that a suite of interventions are possible and needed
  • Involve stakeholders –> not command and control but have a two way dialogue to ensure equity
  • Tailor projects to local conditions
  • Manage adaptively
  • Avoid conversion of natural ecosystems

He strongly emphasized the point that in order for these projects to be successful, benefits and incentives for the local population are needed. These benefits could for example be:

  • Enhance food security
  • Prosperity increase
  • Clarify rights to land trees
  • Long term focus -> design landscapes and build resilience

Technical Expert Meeting on Adaptation – Societal Resilience

by Celina Schelle

Today the first expert meeting on adaptation was taking place. The discussion was split up in two parts with the IFSA delegation being actively engaged in both. Our main aim was to communicate the ideas which we developed in our working group on adaptation. The first round of the expert meeting included three break up sessions where resilience in the context of society, ecosystems and economy have been discussed. The IFSA delegation together with other fellow YOUNGOS raised their voice during the break up group discussion on societal resilience. We promoted the point of view that investing in adaptation is all about securing the future.

aaa3

Not only do young people make up the biggest share of the population in many countries, but we also are the leaders of the future. So countries should raise the question of how to include the youth more in the discussion on adaptation. Their potential to be a major driving force in moving forward adaptation initiatives needs to be considered and their voice be heard.

In the following afternoon discussion topics raised during the break up groups were elaborated and further developed. Our request to recognize the role of the youth in the context of adaptation was welcomed and commonly understood. One of the speakers Martin Frick from the FAO further elaborated on the importance of education as a major channel through which young people can be included, but also emphasized the concomitant impact of intergenerational knowledge transfers. Enabling children to teach parents on climate change could reach a very large group. “It is not new that children teach parents, they can grab the topic of climate change very quickly and communicate their insights.”

The importance of education beyond know-how in the context of risk management has been repeatedly illuminated, thereby throwing light on the necessity to decrease vulnerability instead. The notion of risk management as a concept is important, but the exposure and vulnerability of communities also has a social dimension which needs to be incorporated.

Thus, resilience of society means to enable people to react. Despite consensus on the relevance of education and community participation as the enabling mechanisms, ways to achieve this seem to be still subject to controversial discussion.