Book Chapter: Forests, Land Use, and Challenges to Climate Stability and Food Security





The current mode of global food production is characterized by negative impacts on both human and planetary health (Haddad et al., 2016; Pinstrup-Andersen, 2013; Whitmee et al., 2015; Chapter 2). Fifty years after the Green Revolution, the world still faces multiple forms of malnutrition while much of the agricultural expansion related to achieving global food security often occurs at the expense of natural systems, including forests (Gibbs et al., 2010; Leblois et al., 2017).

The environmental toll of unsustainable agriculture threatens to undermine progress toward achieving global food security (Gordon et al., 2017). Climate change, to which agriculture is a major contributing factor, threatens crop production around the world (Kent et al., 2017; Martinich et al., 2017). At the same time, loss of fertility, desertification, loss of ecosystem services, and natural habitats undermine the long-term stability of the global food system (Haddad et al., 2016). Thus, the major questions facing global sustainable production are: (1) How do we increase production on existing agricultural land while reducing environmental degradation? (2) How do we reduce the environmental degradation and loss of ecosystem services as well as important sources of wild food and income resulting from agricultural expansion into natural habitats? (3) How do we restore degraded, unproductive, and abandoned agricultural land and natural habitats?

Forests and trees are an essential part of the solution to all three questions. Trees in agricultural landscapes can simultaneously increase production and mitigate against environmental degradation. Judicious landscape-scale land use planning that incorporates trees and forests into productive landscapes can simultaneously conserve forests and protect the ecosystem services upon which agricultural production depends (Baudron and Giller, 2014; Reed et al., 2016). At the same time, reforestation and regeneration of forests can restore degraded land and provide new productive landscapes on abandoned or degraded land.

Here, we divide the roles and functions of forests into three categories. First, is the provisioning function of forests; that is, the direct provision of food and income from forests and agroforestry. Second, forests have a protective function, a term referring to the oft-neglected contributions of ecosystem service provision, and the potential of forest regeneration to reclaim degraded land and increase agricultural production and mitigate climate change. The third function relates to the restorative capacity of forests that can be leveraged through increasing the availability of trees and forests in agricultural landscapes. Such contributions include climate change mitigation via sequestration and the restoration of degraded agricultural land. The latter can occur either through secondary forest succession or deliberate planting and restoration.

This chapter begins with a brief overview and outlook on the link between agriculture, deforestation, and climate change. In the next section, we explore the direct contributions forests make to food security through the provision of food and income and as a safety net for poor and vulnerable people. In Section 6.4, we examine the protective function of forests in terms of often-neglected ecosystem services upon which current agricultural production depends. The restorative function of forests and the potential of forest and tree-based agricultural systems to provide sustainable alternatives to contemporary industrial agriculture and mitigate climate change are discussed in Section 6.5. Finally, we discuss the governance and landscape management challenges and opportunities of incorporating forests and trees into agricultural landscapes.

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Are agriculture and nutrition policies and practice coherent? Stakeholder evidence from Afghanistan



Despite recent improvements in the national average, stunting levels in Afghanistan exceed 70% in some Provinces. Agriculture serves as the main source of livelihood for over half of the population and has the potential to be a strong driver of a reduction in under-nutrition. This article reports research conducted through interviews with stakeholders in agriculture and nutrition in the capital, Kabul, and four provinces of Afghanistan, to gain a better understanding of the institutional and political factors surrounding policy making and the nutrition-sensitivity of agriculture. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of 46 stakeholders from central government and four provinces, including staff from international organizations, NGOs and universities. We found evidence of interdisciplinary communication at the central level and within Provinces, but little evidence of vertical coordination in policy formulation and implementation between the centre and Provinces. Policy formulation and decision making were largely sectoral, top-down, and poorly contextualised. The weaknesses identified in policy formulation, focus, knowledge management, and human and financial resources inhibit the orientation of national agricultural development strategies towards nutrition-sensitivity. Integrating agriculture and nutrition policies requires explicit leadership from the centre. However, the effectiveness of a food-based approach to reducing nutrition insecurity will depend on decentralising policy ownership to the regions and provinces through stronger subnational governance. Security and humanitarian considerations point to the need to manage and integrate in a deliberate way the acute humanitarian care and long-term development needs, of which malnutrition is just one element.

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Forest foods and healthy diets: quantifying the contributions



Forested landscapes provide a source of micronutrient rich food for millions of people around the world. A growing evidence base suggests these foods may be of great importance to the dietary quality of people living in close proximity to forests – especially in communities with poor access to markets. Despite widespread evidence of the consumption of forest foods around the world, to date, few studies have attempted to quantify the nutritional contributions these foods make. In this study we tested the hypothesis that the consumption of forest foods can make important contributions to dietary quality. We investigated the dietary contributions of wild forest foods in smallholder dominated forested landscapes from 37 sites in 24 tropical countries, using data from the Poverty and Environment Network (PEN). We compared quantities of forest foods consumed by households with dietary recommendations and national average consumption patterns. In addition, we compared the relative importance of forests and smallholder agriculture in supplying fruits, vegetables, meat and fish for household consumption. More than half of the households in our sample collected forest foods for their own consumption, though consumption patterns were skewed towards low-quantity users. For high-quantity consuming households, however, forest foods made a substantial contributions to their diets. The top quartile of forest food users in each site obtained 14.8% of the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, and 106% of the reference quantity of meat and fish from forests. In 13 sites, the proportion of meat and fish coming from forests was greater than from domestic livestock and aquaculture, while in 11 sites, households procured a greater proportion of fruits and vegetables from forests than from agriculture. Given high levels of heterogeneity in forest food consumption, we identify four forest food use site typologies to characterize the different use patterns: ‘forest food dependent’, ‘limited forest food use’, ‘forest food supplementation’ and ‘specialist forest food consumer’ sites. Our results suggest that while forest foods do not universally contribute significantly to diets, in some sites where large quantities of forest foods are consumed, their contribution towards dietary adequacy is substantial.

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Forests, Trees and Micronutrient-Rich Food Consumption in Indonesia



Micronutrient deficiency remains a serious problem in Indonesia with approximately 100 million people, or 40% of the population, suffering from one or more micronutrient deficiencies. In rural areas with poor market access, forests and trees may provide an essential source of nutritious food. This is especially important to understand at a time when forests and other tree-based systems in Indonesia are being lost at unprecedented rates. We use food consumption data from the 2003 Indonesia Demographic Health Survey for children between the ages of one and five years and data on vegetation cover from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to examine whether there is a relationship between different tree-dominated land classes and consumption of micronutrient-rich foods across the archipelago. We run our models on the aggregate sample which includes over 3000 observations from 25 provinces across Indonesia as well as on sub-samples from different provinces chosen to represent the different land classes. The results show that different tree-dominated land classes were associated with the dietary quality of people living within them in the provinces where they were dominant. Areas of swidden/agroforestry, natural forest, timber and agricultural tree crop plantations were all associated with more frequent consumption of food groups rich in micronutrients in the areas where these were important land classes. The swidden/agroforestry land class was the landscape associated with more frequent consumption of the largest number of micronutrient rich food groups. Further research needs to be done to establish what the mechanisms are that underlie these associations. Swidden cultivation in is often viewed as a backward practice that is an impediment to food security in Indonesia and destructive of the environment. If further research corroborates that swidden farming actually results in better nutrition than the practices that replace it, Indonesian policy makers may need to reconsider their views on this land use.

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Population mapping of gibbons in Kalimantan, Indonesia: correlates of gibbon density and vegetation across the species’ range



The first comprehensive survey of gibbons (Hylobates spp.) across Indonesian Borneo was carried out over 3 years to (1) determine whether densities of gibbon species are correlated with vegetation characteristics, and if so, whether the same characteristics are correlated with density across all forest types; and (2) determine population densities in the survey areas and identify threats to the areas. To achieve this, a total of 8 forest blocks were surveyed, involving 53 independent survey locations and repeat surveys in 3 forest blocks. Our data show that gibbons are ubiquitous where there is forest; however, the quality of forest affects population density, forest block size affects longevity of populations, and populations are susceptible to the ‘compression effect’, i.e. populations occupy smaller fragments at unsustainably high densities. We show the effects of forest disturbance (logging, fire, fragmentation) on gibbon distribution and density and highlight issues for long-term conservation. We discuss the use of minimum cross-sectional area, habitat variables and presence of top foods to determine population density and to identify a threshold below which gibbons cannot persist. We discuss the conservation issues facing all Bornean gibbons, including natural hybrids (H. muelleri × H. albibarbis). The answers to these research questions will help mitigate threats to gibbons and their habitat, as well as identify key habitat for gibbon populations within and outside the protected area network.

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Direct contributions of dry forests to nutrition: a review


Globally, micronutrient deficiencies are more prevalent than calorie and protein deficiencies. In order to address global micronutrient deficiencies, increasing attention is being paid to the nutritional quality of people’s diets. While conventional agriculture is key for ensuring adequate calories, dietary quality depends on the consumption of a diverse range of micronutrient-rich foods. Many wild foods are rich in micronutrients, particularly fruits, vegetables, and animal source food. As a result there has been increasing interest in the value of wild foods to meeting nutritional requirements.

We review literature on the consumption of wild foods in dry forest areas to assess the current state of knowledge as to how dry forests may contribute to nutrition. We focus on papers that quantify consumption of wild forest foods. Although there is a great deal of literature that lends weight to the notion that dry forests are important for food security and nutrition, we find surprisingly little evidence of direct contributions to diets. Of 2514 articles identified by our search, only four quantify the consumption of wild foods from dry forests, and only one of these puts this consumption in the context of the entire diet. There is a need for research on the nutritional importance of dry forest foods which combines methodologies from nutrition science with an understanding and appreciation of the ecological, social, cultural and economic context.

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Drivers and effects of agrarian change in Kapuas Hulu Regency, West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Leonald and Rowland


This chapter examines the potential of the Kapuas Hulu Regency in West Kalimantan as a study site to examine the current drivers of land-use change in Indonesia and the effects of contemporary land-use change on livelihoods and food security. The chapter summarizes preliminary research undertaken in Indonesia as part of the Agrarian Change Project, a multi-country comparative research project conducted by CIFOR. Within the Indonesian component of the project, we focus on the expansion and intensification of oil palm plantations along an agricultural intensification gradient ranging from primary rainforest to monoculture palm oil plantations. We examine the effects of this agrarian change upon local livelihood strategies, economies and food security within nearby communities.

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