By Jesus Quintana
One reason for the relative invisibility of forests, and forestry in IFAD’s work is the “unnatural” separation between agriculture and forestry as sectors. Their interaction is too often seen (rather simplistically) as conflictive – the story of agricultural lands replacing or encroaching on forests dominates headlines. But this is a failure to appreciate the complexity, richness and complementarity of land uses. Although agricultural practices can of course be detrimental to forests and other natural resources, there is so much more potential to reap benefits from a more healthy relationship between them. Forests, big and small, provide genetic biodiversity and other services – pollination, water quality and flow regulation - that benefit communities and crops alike. Farmers and many other land users rely directly on forests to complement their diet or income, for medicines and also to satisfy social and cultural needs. Farmers across the world successfully combine forests, trees and agriculture in harmonious ways through agroforestry that raises yields without damaging the natural resource base. It’s time the international community recognize that agriculture and forestry are “two sides of the same coin,” and stop separating them.
Celebrating forests for people – International Year of Forests 2011
I co-organized a side-event on agroforestry with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), FAO and the African Forest Forum that highlighted partnership successes in impacting the asset base of poor households with farm-grown trees, enhancing soil fertility and livestock productivity, linking poor households to markets, balancing improved productivity with the sustainable management of natural resources, and maintaining or enhancing the supply of environmental services in agricultural landscapes.
UNFFF9-IFAD agroforestry presentation
View more presentations from IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development.
In particular, we emphasized the interconnections between agriculture and forestry, promoting sustainable uses of cropland, pastures and forests through integrated, land-based approaches. Our message: we must invest in these “sustainable agriculture” approaches to improve agricultural productivity while at the same time reducing poverty and improving food security (and also increasing resilience to climate change). And for these impacts to last in the long run, do it without depleting natural resources. We need a new, “evergreen” revolution using agroforestry as a key component globally (along with conservation agriculture, integrated pest management and others).
The UN Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFF), an intergovernmental policy forum established in 2000 to promote the management, conservation and sustainable use of all types of forests, is the focal point for IYF 2011, in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), major groups and other relevant organisations. The official launch ceremony of the IYF 2011 took place as part of the high level ministerial segment of the 9th session of the UNFF, at UN Headquarters on 2 February 2011.