Yearly Archives: 2016

In Kenya, farmers see early rewards from adding legumes and trees to their farms

photo-49Less than a year after supplying farmers with legume seeds and fertilizer tree seedlings, the Legume CHOICE project team caught up with farmers and traders in Kisii and Migori counties of Kenya. The farmers were already enjoying the benefits and were keen to scale up.

Legume crops like beans and peas (known collectively as pulses when dry) are a versatile and affordable source of protein and other important nutrients. A mainstay of vegetarian diets, legumes play a critical role in meeting the protein needs of people who cannot access animal proteins such as meat and eggs.

The Legume CHOICE project is supplying farmers with their choice of seeds of beans and other legumes, which they grow for home consumption and sale. In addition, the farmers receive advice on how to grow the legumes and on better land management, part of which is growing useful trees and shrubs. In this way, the project aims to fully realise the potential of legumes to improve diets and livelihoods of people practicing mixed crop-livestock farming in East & Central Africa.  It is currently active in Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

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Kenya to Restore Denmark-sized Area of Degraded Land

21653208749_7f462ab620_kKenya announced on September 8th that it will restore 5.1 million hectares (12.6 million acres) of degraded land, an area roughly the size of Denmark, to more productive use. The move is poised to improve livelihoods, curb climate change, safeguard biodiversity and more.

As a result of poor land use, including overcultivation and overgrazing, Kenya has been quickly losing land todesertification. The drylands that make up much of the country are particularly susceptible.

Kenya’s restoration plan is not only notable because it will reverse some of this degradation, but because of how the country set its international target.

WRI participated in a technical working group that used a novel research approach to map Kenya’s different land areas. That group found 38.8 million hectares (96 million acres)—more than 65 percent of Kenya’s total land area—suitable for restoration. The goal announced last Thursday represents more than 13 percent of the total restorable land area. (View the map here.)

The development of this map goes beyond spurring the commitment—it will help government, civil society and business leaders ascertain how they will achieve it. Local leaders can use the map to identify restoration activities, which could involve everything from planting trees alongside crops to reforesting clear-cut forests to adding vegetation along roads.

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Q&A: How to Involve Kenya’s Local Communities in Adapting to Climate Change?

24543987921_8edf8918d1_z_1Kenya faces several disparate climate change impacts, such as severe droughts in some areas and extreme floods in other parts. It’s a challenge for the adaptation planners tasked with helping vulnerable communities become more resilient.

WRI held a training in Kenya for members of government agencies, NGOs and the private sector on tools to evaluate, plan for and prioritize adaptation. Phillip Oyoo from CARE International, an adaptation planner who works with local communities in Kenya, was one of those participants. I caught up with him to talk about the challenges he faces in his work, and how he thinks emerging tools can help address Kenya’s climate adaptation challenges.

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Can the Great Green Wall change direction?

160922095253-great-wall-senegal-exlarge-169A 7,700 kilometer wall of trees, running through 11 countries along the southern frontier of the Sahara Desert. That’s what the African Union proposed in 2007, a “Great Green Wall” that was to be the largest living structure on the planet.

The purpose was to provide a mighty barrier against the advance of the Sahara, and to reverse the plague of desertification spreading drought, famine and poverty through the Sahel region. The Great Green Wall Initiative for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) has since gained rocket boosters. Today, the Initiative has 21 African countries participating, over $4 billion of pledged funding, and heavyweight partners from the World Bank to the French government.

The projects has sky-high ambitions; to restore 50 million hectares of land, provide food security for 20 million people, create 350,000 jobs, and sequester 250 million tons of carbon. Work is already underway. The GGWSSI recently reported that 15% of trees have already been planted, largely in Senegal, where four million hectares have been restored. But the grand vision rests on a suspect premise.

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Tokyo International Conference on African Development Side Event

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Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) is a summit meeting on African development. The summit was initiated by Japan in 1993 and so far five conferences have been held in Japan. Its main objective is to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their partners as well as mobilize support for African-owned development initiatives. The 6th conference will be held in Kenya on 27-28 August at KICC and subsequent side events will take place prior to and during the main event at different venues. ICRAF is privileged to host two side events on 25-26 August.

1. The Future of Wood-Based Energy – 25 August 2016
Download program

2. Forest & Landscape Restoration for Food Security and Resilience to Climate Change – August 26, 2016
Download program

Further reading:

Njenga, M. Iiyama, R. Jamnadass, H. Helander, L. Larson, J. de Leew, H. Neufeldt, K. Röing de Nowina, C. Sunderberg. Gasifier as a cleaner cooking system in rural Kenya. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.01.039  (available under terms and conditions)

Mara ecosystem threatened by charcoal production in Nyakweri Forest and its environs: ICRAF Technical Brief 3:

[PDF] Policy solutions for sustainable charcoal in sub-Saharan Africa  [PDF], a publication of the World Future Council.

[PDF] Mara ecosystem threatened by charcoal production in Nyakweri Forest and its environs

[PDF] From transition fuel to viable energy source: improving sustainability in the sub-Saharan charcoal sector

[PDF] Developing sustainable tree-based bioenergy systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Download presentation by Dr. Henry Neufeldt to Our Common Future Under Climate Change conference here.

 Restoring forests: What constitutes success in the twenty-first century? By Douglass F. Jacobs, Juan A. Oliet, James Aronson, Andreas Bolte, James M. Bullock, Pablo J. Donoso, Simon M. Landhäusser, Palle Madsen, Shaolin Peng, José M. Rey-Benayas, John C. Weber. New Forests, 2015, Page 1.


 Creating a ‘smokeless’ village in India

Demystifying the World’s Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities

Landscape restoration talks at global innovations forum, GFIA 2015

 It only takes prunings from trees on farms and efficient stoves for smallholder farmers to meet their cooking energy needs

 Promoting early-maturing, oil-rich shea trees and holding off the charcoal threat

 Experts’ advice on woodfuel governance in Burkina Faso

 Trees for wood energy and land restoration

 Towards a sustainable tree-based bioenergy sector in sub-Saharan Africa

 From ‘energy poverty’ towards sustainable tree-based bioenergy

 Charcoal production in sub-Saharan Africa can be sustainable

 Brushing up charcoal’s image

 Keeping healthy and saving trees 

Unpacking the evidence on firewood and charcoal in Africa

 A burning issue: woodfuel, public health, land degradation and conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Policy briefs (2015)

 Developing sustainable tree-based bioenergy systems in sub-Saharan Africa:

 Opportunities and challenges of landscape approaches for sustainable charcoal production and use

Developing sustainable tree-based bioenergy systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Working papers

 From transition fuel to viable energy source: improving sustainability in the sub-Saharan charcoal sector

See also:

 Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities: an online interactive map from WRI, the University of Maryland, and IUCN

 Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration



From courage and innovation comes hope

wwwWould you quit your current position at your place of work to venture out on your own? If so, would you consider yourself to have acquired all the skills and expertise necessary to be successful? According to Samuel, a champion farmer of the Trees for Food Security (T4FS) Project, it was about time he developed his own tree nursery. Having worked as a casual for the Elgon Trust Women Group under T4FS, Samuel used to pot seedlings, maintain the tree nursery as well as collect tree seeds. The returns were however not as good compared to the benefits enjoyed by his employers.

Samuel therefore resolved to quit his job and start his own nursery, banking on the knowledge and skills he acquired over the years. One main hurdle however, potting tubes, stood in his way as they are quite expensive. This however did not deter him from making the bold move. Instead, Samuel would set out on specific days, go around restaurants and bars in the area, to collect milk and beer sachets, which he would use as potting materials. With this innovation and the support of his wife, Samuel was off to a good start on his own.

Acquiring tree seeds was not a big challenge as Samuel had already spotted mature trees in the area. Through past experiences working for the group, Samuel was able to monitor seed maturity period and this would help him plan as to when and how he would collect the seeds. He would therefore move around the community, climb the trees and harvest the seeds.

In order to improve and increase the survival rates of his Eucalyptus seedlings, Samuel introduced a technique where he would place dry banana leaves over a nursery soil mixture and burn to provide  a covering for the nursery beds. This innovation greatly improves the germination and performance of his seedlings. The Trees for Food Security Project has also built my capacity in tree seed collection and maintaining nursery records.

Samuel's innovative and affordable way of potting trees. Photo May MuthuriIn a year, Samuel highlighted that he makes between UGX 500,000 (USD 152) and UGX 1 million (USD 303), depending on the season and orders he receives from projects and local organizations. Pests have however been a challenge as this affects the number of seedlings ready for sale.

Noting his efforts and interests, the Trees for Food Security Project came in to support Samuel by providing the polythene tubes. “I have four children whom I enrolled in a private school which is way more expensive than public schools and I haven’t lacked fees to support them. I also use the proceeds from to purchase household items and sustain my family’s needs. I owe my success to knowledge and skills got from the Elgon Trust Women Group and additional skills and support from the Trees for Food Security Project,” stated Samuel.