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Natural Resources, Environment and Landscape Management (2): Land use systems

Friday 20 March 2015, 1630 – 1830, Auditorium 3

Part 2 of 3. View Part 1 and Part 3.

Jeff Burley
University of Oxford

Gillian Petrokofsky
University of Oxford

These panels consider the role of natural resources in economic and social development and their influence on environmental changes.

Paper 1: Food security and nutrition: role of forests

Amy Ickowitz
CIFOR, Indonesia

Forests and tree-based agricultural systems contribute directly and indirectly to the livelihoods of an estimated one billion people globally. Wild foods are important for food security and nutrition while trees and forests are vital for their role in the provision of ecosystem services to agriculture. The alarming expansion of large-scale industrial production systems in tropical regions threaten the contributions of forests and tree-based agriculture systems to food security, diets and nutrition in the tropical regions of the world in particular may threaten the potential contributions of forests to the food security, diets and nutrition of a growing world population. Despite this, the role of forests in supporting human food security and nutrition remain largely under-researched and understood. With food security and nutrition high on the agenda in many political and scientific spheres, it is crucial to understand the contribution of forests and trees to a food secure and nutrition-sensitive future. This improved understanding will be essential for building on synergies and minimizing trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture in order to feed an estimated global population of nine billion people by 2050.

Forests, biodiversity and agro-ecology should feature more prominently in political and scientific discourse on agricultural production and the concomitant challenge of sustainable forest management. Greater attention to the direct and indirect benefits of forest in food security, livelihoods and nutrition should enhance local and global efforts to end hunger and improve the nutrition of communities living in forested areas as well as those living in areas removed from forests.


Paper 2: Dynamic communities and landscapes in Southeast Asia

Christine Padoch
CIFOR, Indonesia

Throughout much of Southeast Asia, what remains of forests is found in areas where shifting cultivation or swiddening is practiced and where shifting cultivators have traditional rights to land and resources. Misconceptions about shifting cultivation, and the vulnerable status of shifting cultivator populations make it imperative that forest-focused initiatives in the region including REDD projects incorporate an understanding of these communities and practices. Particularly important issues include understanding the various forms of community or household forest and fallow management swiddening commonly comprises, and that could be a resource for REDD activities, and the multiple social networks that link people and places, including rural to urban settlements, individuals to organizations, peripheries to centers, and that often remain essentially invisible to outsiders. Information and other resources exchanged through networks affect the ability of communities and households to participate in and to benefit from REDD activities; social networks can enhance the ability of communities of shifting cultivators to influence regional and national policies on REDD and other initiative. This paper, based on CIFOR’s research within the ongoing ASFCC project explores these issues and reports of recent results.


Paper 3: Will no one plant a tree in Indonesia? 

Roger Montgomery
formerly Asia Research Centre, London School of Economics, London

This paper explores an innovative approach to poverty reduction through the introduction of an agro-forestry variant of sloping agricultural land technology among the rural population of an upland district known for wide-spread malnutrition on the island of Timor, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The technique proved so successful that 8.5 million trees were planted.

The approach was devised by a previously unknown NGO headed by Mr. Vinsensius Nurak. In 2010, Mr. Nurak’s group (Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri, Foundation for Partnership with Independent Farmers) won the UN’s Equator Prize. In 2013, Indonesia’s president presented YMTM with the nation’s highest honour for environmental conservation, the Kalpataru award.

Rural Indonesians will plant trees but only when certain conditions have been met. Tree planting must be just one part of a multi-pronged approach to poverty reduction. The time element is critical as it takes several years for trees to produce an income stream. More pressing problems high debt to money-lenders and low farm-gate prices needed to be solved first. Only then could the focus turn to a gradual introduction of agro-forestry on steeply sloping land.

Did this approach to poverty reduction succeed? Although the budget provided by AusAID was only enough to reach 1,000 households, more than 5,300 joined the project, asking for no assistance with inputs, beyond advice and guidance. There have been no reports of malnutrition in the participants’ villages since 2010.