Landscape restoration talks at global innovations forum, GFIA 2015

Dennis Garrity, Senior Fellow, ICRAF; Miguel Calmon, Senior Manager, Landscape Restoration, IUCN; Sean Dewitt, Director, Global Restoration Initiative, World Resources Institute; Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, Global Environment Facility (GEF); Taner Kodeanaz, Director, Seeing a Better World Program, DigitalGlobe; Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director, Group on Earth Observations (GWO); Howard Yana-Shapiro, Global Director of Plant Science, Mars Corporation

L-R: Panelists Dennis Garrity, ICRAF; Miguel Calmon, IUCN; Sean Dewitt, World Resources Institute; Gustavo Fonseca, Global Environment Facility (GEF); Taner Kodeanaz, DigitalGlobe; Barbara Ryan, Group on Earth Observations (GWO); Howard Yana-Shapiro, Mars Corporation

Key to achieving sustainable food and nutritional security for a burgeoning human population will be “to restore, regenerate and sustain the natural resource base for future food production. A large part of this is to restore degraded lands and care for the existing productive forests and agricultural lands.

“Also, we must ensure that everyone gets enough income to acquire food on a regular basis.”

These were among World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Senior Fellow Dennis Garrity’s opening remarks for a plenary session on Landscape Restoration at the just-ended GFIA 2015.

The session’s panelists, whose organizations’ work touches upon landscape restoration, spoke knowledgeably about various global, regional and national initiatives that are supporting the increasingly urgent mission of landscape restoration.

Keynote speaker Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of the Clinton Climate Initiative, said it was “simply unacceptable” that 800 million people still go to bed hungry, most of them children. She said the world needs leaders who take a whole-systems approach, where all sectors think and work together.

“Simply by using fertilizers and improved crops and seed will not take care of soil health. Agriculture has to be undertaken in harmony with nature,” she said, echoing numerous GFIA2015 speakers.

Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of the Clinton Climate Initiative, speaking at GFIA 2015 session on landscape restoration, 11 March 2015, Abu Dhabi

Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of the Clinton Climate Initiative, speaking at GFIA 2015 session on landscape restoration, 11 March 2015, Abu Dhabi

Ms van der Lans informed the audience of a new report released by the Clinton Foundation, which brings together 30 years of data on women and girls. The report, launched on 8 March, shows “we are still not there with gender equality.”

“Women’s equality is key to agriculture productivity increase, she stated.

ICRAF is part of the Global Partnership for Forest and Landscape Restoration, a network that unites governments, organisations, communities and individuals with a common goal: restoring the world’s degraded and deforested lands. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Resources Institute (WRI), also GPFLR partners, were represented in the GFIA session on landscape restoration.

Miguel Calmon, Senior Manager, Landscape Restoration, IUCN, said there are 2 billion hectares of degraded and deforested land that could benefit from restoration. Successful restoration would bring about new productivity and improve the livelihoods and climate resilience of millions of people.

However, forest landscape restoration should not take land away from food production and should not undermine forest conservation, he warned.

To this point, Calmon said there was need for research to better understand the tradeoffs that come with land restoration, landuse dynamics, the influence of policies and incentives, and of landscape approaches to natural resource management.

IUCN has been working actively in Rwanda, and has developed a methodology for participatory assessment of forest landscape restoration opportunities at the national level, called ROAM.

Sean Dewitt, Director of WRI’s Global Restoration Initiative, gave the example of the Institute’s work in Rwanda, where 85 percent of the population makes a living from subsistence farming on degraded, formerly forested lands. “Every square meter of land matters here,” he said.

Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs at the Global Environment Facility (GEF), said landcape restoration is an incipient programme at the GEF, and is set to receive a big chunk of GEF funding support, with low-forest-cover countries being especially targeted.

“In the next four years 700 million dollars can be accessed by developing countries for sustainable forest cover,” said Fonseca, adding that “agroforestry presents a great opportunity for forest restoration efforts.”

Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director of the Group on Earth Observations (GWO) said her organization is working to reduce volatility in order to realize a more food-secure world.

The GEO is designed to be “A global system of systems,” containing public-sector data shared broadly across the domain. The GEO’s work, through the GEOGLAM Crop monitor for Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), will allow for improved crop forecasts to reduce uncertainty.

“Uncertainty is the enemy of investment – shared information is the antidote for uncertainty,” said Ryan, quoting sustainability entrepreneur Dylan Ratigan.

Dr. Howard Yana-Shapiro, Global Director of Plant Science, MARS Corporation, described the work of MARS in addressing food and nutritional security worldwide.

“48% of world is suffering from stunting or chronic anemia, and 1.5 billion people eat mycotoxins every day.” said Yana-Shapiro.

Mars is sponsoring work to improve productivity and nutritional quality of food trees and crops, and is a key partner of the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC), whose Academy is hosted at ICRAF Headquarters in Nairobi. Mars is also sponsoring the Vision for Change partnership project for sustainable cocoa farming, coordinated by ICRAF in Cote d’Ivoire, among similar initiatives elsewhere.

Taner Kodeanaz, Director, Seeing a Better World Program at DigitalGlobe, said advances in data imagery now allow mapping to be used for food security and natural resources planning. DigitalGlobe is a commercial provider of high-resolution earth observation and advanced geospatial solutions.

Kodeanaz said current technologies allow satellite imagery showing individual trees, crops, soil content, soil moisture, and many other properties. For instance, the company’s powerful 30 cm resolution imagery allows the user to differentiate tree species from satellite images.

All these innovations and programs signal progress in landscape restoration, soil health, and landcare, all high priority issue on the global stage.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are now highlighting Land Degradation Neutrality, and the New York Climate Summit of last September produced an audacious new international commitment to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030,” said Garrity, the GFIA landscape restoration event’s chair.


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Daisy Ouya

Daisy Ouya is a science writer and communications specialist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Over the past 15 years she has been packaging and disseminating scientific knowledge in the fields of entomology, agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS research, and marine science. Daisy is a Board-certified Editor in the Life Sciences ( and has a Masters’ degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut, USA. Her BSc is from the University of Nairobi in her native Kenya. She has worked as a journal editor, science writer, publisher, and communications strategist with various organizations. She joined ICRAF in July 2012. Twitter: @daisyouya

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