Monthly Archives: January 2018

How climate-smart is the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration method?

The method of restoring degraded lands efficiently contributes to climate change mitigation.

Integrating trees in agricultural systems helps rural communities adapt to climate change, mitigate its impact and improve their livelihoods. Particularly for farmers in the Sahel, trees growing on agricultural land play an important role: they do not only prevent soil erosion but provide a wide range of services such as food, increased soil fertility, and fuel wood.

Taking up on the various benefits of trees and to counteract a trend of environmental degradation since the 1970s, non-profit organizations promoted the cultivation and active regeneration of trees on degraded land. This method of restoring degraded lands to regain their health and productivity is known as Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). FMNR is a low-cost land regeneration system as it is based on managing the regrowth of living tree stumps that constitute a vast “underground forest” that is ready to grow.

Several studies conclude that FMNR may have contributed not only to a remarkable rise in vegetation greenness or “re-greening” of the Sahel, but also to improvements in agricultural productivity and environmental conditions. Testimony from FMNR experts and farmers across the Sahel region where FMNR is being implemented shows that FMNR has social and environmental benefits. It has impact on tree cover and diversity and availability of tree products which provide income through sale, and impact on-farm yields through soil improvement and protection.

FMNR is now being considered as a promising climate-smart agricultural practice that represents an affordable means of enhancing rural livelihoods as well, and may contribute to climate change mitigation by sequestering subtantial amounts of carbon in tree biomass and soil in addition to conserving biodiversity. Despite the potential relevance of FMNR as an efficient way to contribute to climate change mitigation and livelihood, there has been so far no attempt to substantiate anecdotal evidence with factual data provided by field-based experiments.

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Originally published on the CCAFS CGIAR website.

Restoration: One of the Most Overlooked Opportunities for Economic Growth

Trees are obviously good for the planet. What’s not so clear to most people—governments, NGOs, investors, the public—are their socioeconomic benefits. Trees are essential for the economy, our health and our wellbeing.

Research shows that every $1 invested in restoring degraded land generates an estimated $7–$30 in economic benefits, including improved food production, carbon sequestration, and water quality. Yet each year, deforestation and land degradation costs the world $6.3 trillion in lost ecosystem services like agricultural products, recreational opportunities and clean air—equivalent to 8.3 percent of global GDP in 2016.

Despite these clear costs and benefits, restoration receives only a tiny fraction of the funding it needs. That’s where governments come in. A new WRI report, Roots of Prosperity: The Economics and Finance of Restoring Land, looks at the barriers and opportunities to scale up finance in restoration.

Originally published on the WRI Website

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Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration in Kenya

Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration in Tanzania

Trees are much more than the lungs of the world (commentary)

There are two important answers to the question “why do we need more trees in farmland?” One is global and one is local.

Globally, trees are often recognized as the ‘lungs of the world’ because they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. However, this is an understatement. If we think in these terms, trees are also the kidneys of the world as they regulate the flow and use of water by intercepting rain and releasing it slowly to the ground where it can either run off into rivers, or enter the groundwater. Plants can then absorb it for use in photosynthesis. This absorbed water is then transpired back to the atmosphere and blown on the wind until it falls as rain somewhere else.

Thus, trees are also like the skin of the world, being the interface between the vegetation and the atmosphere for the exchange of gases and water.

Similarly, trees are like the intestines of the world exchanging nutrients between the soil and the vegetation, fueling the nutrient and carbon cycle.

Finally, they are like the heart of the world, as they drive the ecosystems that make the world healthy and function properly. They do this by providing a very large number of niches for other organisms to inhabit, both above and below ground. Recent evidence has reported 2.3 million organisms on a single tree – mostly microbes – but also numerous insects and even bigger animals like mammals and birds. Others also live in the soil or, due to the microclimates created by the physical stature of the tree, on the associated herbs and bushes. It is all these organisms that provide the ecological services of soil formation and nutrient recycling, feeding off each other and creating an intricate web of food chains.

All this is important for the maintenance of nature’s balance that prevents weed, pest, and disease explosions. They also provide services like pollination, essential for the regeneration of most plants, not to mention the very topical regulation of carbon storage essential for climate control.

Originally published on the Mongabay Website 

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