The feature article this issue looks at how time-series, land-cover maps for Indonesia will help the government stay on track with its plan to drastically reduce CO2 emissions. We’ve launched a new online tool to help choose the right trees for planting anywhere in Africa and new research warns that shorter winter chilling is affecting fruit and nut trees. A special journal issue analyzes tools that researchers and farmers can use to minimize risk and build resilience to changing weather conditions and we report on recent meetings, forums and workshops.
The first-ever global analysis of the impacts of climate change on fruit and nut trees has found that an important determining factor for crop yields will be affected. The study, led by Centre scientist Eike Luedeling, and published in the journal PLoS ONE, reveals that an increasingly shortening winter chill period each year due to warming in many key growing regions is impacting agricultural production of fruits and nuts.
Forest genetic resources are unique and irreplaceable. An ambitious project to document their status began with a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya at the end of April; a vital (as well as urgent) step towards conserving and sustainably managing forests. This is the first time such a study has been undertaken for forest genetic resources, while many livestock and crop genetic resources are already well documented.
A recent investment forum in Nairobi, Kenya focused on how to lift some of the financial, institutional and policy barriers that have so far held back investment in sustainable tree-based and land restoration practices. Participants heard how trees in productive landscapes can help achieve the ‘triple win’ of increased productivity, climate resilience and carbon capture, in ways that benefit smallholder farmers.
“Decades of poor investments in rain-fed agriculture, partly because it is viewed as risky, leave millions of Africans vulnerable to the vagaries of weather and climate change.” So says Centre scientist, Ric Coe, who is co-editor of a special issue of Experimental Agriculture devoted to analyzing tools researchers and farmers can use to help minimize risk so they can build resilience and cope with changing weather conditions.
Dr Jianchu Xu, leader of the Centre’s China and East Asia node, was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in forestry science by the Vice Premier of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Dr Jianchu and his team have been helping the people of DPR Korea achieve food security through a participatory agroforestry project on degraded sloping lands since 2007.
Training workshops in Vietnam and Cameroon in May focused on going beyond REDD to REDD+ and including the sustainable management of forests, conservation and enhancement of carbon sinks in developing countries as part of a global climate mitigation mechanism. Participants from across Africa and Asia improved their knowledge of this complex and rapidly evolving subject, which will help them to formulate national strategies to ensure success of REDD+.
New maps to help Indonesia keep its CO2 emissions on target
Clearing of peatland in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Indonesia lost 29 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005, contributing significant greenhouse gas emissions. The nation has now declared its commitment to reduce emissions by as much as 41% by 2020, supported by external funding. More than 50% of the reduction is intended to come from the land-use, land-use-change and forestry sectors.
The World Agroforestry Centre’s Southeast Asia Regional team has been helping to develop time-series, land-cover maps that will enable the government to determine if its actions to reduce emissions are on target.
“This is the first time Indonesia’s historical land-use changes and trajectories have been mapped with this level of detail,” explains Dr Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Science Adviser with the Centre. “The maps show where deforestation has occurred across Indonesia and how agroforests and plantations replaced natural forests inside and outside the official forest zones. They also make it possible to calculate the amount of carbon stored in different land uses and the level of greenhouse gasses emitted from each type of transition.”
From 1990 to 2000, most districts in Indonesia, except some in Sumatra and Kalimantan, lost more forest than they gained in planted tree cover. Unsustainable logging and forest fires were the main causes.
During 2000–2005, half of the areas gained more tree cover than they lost in forest through the establishment of estates, timber plantations and agroforests. In the areas where deforestation occurred during this period, the primary cause was the demand for agricultural products and export commodities. Of course, there are exceptions to the trend. For example, in Papua and in Maluku, the most easterly part of Indonesia, forest loss is still higher than planted tree-cover gain.
Using data from the National Forest Inventory (compiled by the Government of Indonesia and FAO), the team was able to calculate carbon-stock densities for different forest types and locations and therefore estimate CO2 emissions over time resulting from deforestation and forest degradation.
“Emission rates are slowing,” says Dr Sonya Dewi, landscape ecologist and climate-change scientist at the Centre, who worked on the maps. “During the 1990 to 2000 period, Indonesia’s rate of emission was 0.79 gigatonne of CO2 equivalent per year. During 2000 to 2005, the rate was lower, with annual emissions at 0.47 gigatonne per year. The annual sequestration rate in the later period is more than double that of the earlier period.”
Emissions can be viewed by province, district, watershed or other categories, and this will be extremely useful to the government as they set baselines and develop national and sub-national strategies for emission reduction.
“We found that more than 79% of Indonesia’s emissions from land-use changes were produced by less than a third of the provinces of Indonesia. The largest share of emissions came from Central Kalimantan (16%), Riau (14%), East Kalimantan (12%) and West Kalimantan (8%),” says Dr Dewi.
Story by Rob Finlayson and Kate Langford To read the comprehensive version of this article, click here.
The right tree for the right place
The new Useful Trees Species for Africa tool is now available on the Centre’s website using Google Earth. It enables the user to zoom in on any area of the continent to see the vegetation type that occurs there and call up a list of tree species suitable for planting in that location. The tool will be particularly useful to NGOs involved in tree-planting projects. Read more…
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