When forests are razed to make room for growing populations and agriculture, vast amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Standing forests, on the other hand, reduce carbon emissions, as well as help alleviate poverty in rural communities, and protect water, soil and biodiversity. Given this role, Theme 4 of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) focuses on harnessing forests to mitigate climate change and help people, forests and trees adapt to its consequences.
With some of the world’s top forests and climate change researchers at its helm, the program is the largest of its kind and critical to designing climate change policies across the globe. Here, four experts, each leading climate change research at an FTA partner center in the CGIAR, discuss the program’s current and future work, and why it is so important.
Christopher Martius from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the coordinator of Theme 4, leads the conversation, and is joined by Peter Minang from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Bastiaan Louman from the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), and Glenn Hyman from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in a wide-ranging discussion of one of the defining challenges of our generation.
Why forests and climate change
Approaches and research focal points
The state of REDD+ research
Peter Minang (ICRAF): At ICRAF, on the global level we did a detailed comparative analysis of readiness for REDD+ in Indonesia, Cameroon, Peru and Vietnam. Our conclusions are very interesting in the sense that countries are moving on planning at the central level but a lot of the things that are necessarily at the subnational level, on the ground, are not being paid attention to.We also focus on the nesting dimensions of REDD+ where we look at how to nest REDD+ national targets against the district level and through the provinces, where implementation would take place.
Knowledge gaps in forests and climate change research
Future research across the centers
“Working on climate change and forests cannot be a goal in itself unless it is also addressing the other goals that land use has.”
“Very little of that work has people on the ground. And that’s where FTA has a huge comparative advantage and where we can really contribute something.”
How the FTA program has impact
“Really our impact starts with partnerships – with both the public and private sector.”
A final reflection
“Climate change has to be addressed in the context of the larger development debate and I think that’s why we are proud to be in this program.”
It is evident that first, this is not research that’s done for the sake of academic insight and wisdom. It’s research that’s done with a very practical application in mind. And we achieve that by working very closely with our partners. And second, it’s research that tries to address the very particular problem of climate change and how it can be affected through addressing deforestation and forest degradation. But, we are looking at this problem through a much broader lens, linking this problem to the larger development problems, to the larger low emission development and decarbonization strategies, to economics, to finance and so on. Climate change has to be addressed in the context of the larger development debate. That’s very important to realize, and I think that’s why we are proud to be in this program.