Restoring land through agroforestry in Rwanda

Living Labs

Restoring land through agroforestry in Rwanda

Implementing agroforestry with a regional African dimension

The mountains of East Africa are home to millions of people, and a range of ecosystem services and goods that are an important source of future agrobiodiversity. They play a central role in water supply and associated poverty alleviation and sustainable development. However, climate change is already drastically affecting this area, with the last glaciers in Africa disappearing by the middle of this century. This leads to increased pressure on land, erratic rainfall patterns, as well as deadly floods and droughts.

The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance is partnering with national and international organizations to create a Transboundary Regional Living Lab to enhance the resilience and adaptation of all mountain ecosystems and their communities in East Africa. This Living Lab in West Rwanda is the first phase of this ambitious initiative.

Project launch: 2022
Location: Mukura Forest and Lake Kivu catchment, Rwanda
Objectives: Restoring and conserving forest cover, slowing degradation of ecosystems, promoting sustainable value chains
Key activities: Restoring degraded lands with agroforestry / Mobilising and empowering community groups / Planting 3.6 million trees / Developing livelihoods through sustainable agriculture and land management practices
Main species planted: Grevillea robusta, Markhamia lutea, Alnus acuminata, Prunus Africana, Mytragina, Avocado, Coffee, Tea
Partners: Local communities, Local government, ARCOS, Reforest’Action

Why?

Rwanda’s forest cover has decreased by 8.2 % since 2000. In the mountainous landscapes of Rutsiro District, land and forest degradation have brought major environmental and socio-economic problems. High population pressures lead to the fragmentation of arable land and provoke a high dependence on agriculture and forest resources. Intense deforestation, mainly driven by unsustainable agricultural practices and population growth has led to soil erosion, land degradation and landslide risks, a threat exacerbated by climate change.

To tackle this issue, the government initiated a national vision that puts the environment and natural resources at the centre of its development. The CBA’s Living Lab based on agroforestry directly contributes to this strategy. By combining landscape and circular bioeconomy value chain approaches as well as integrating traditional and latest scientific knowledge, the Living Lab will help enhance environmental resilience, restore the soil’s ecological functions as well as increase crop productivity and enhance local livelihoods.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This Living Lab takes place around the Mukura Forest and the Lake Kivu catchment in Rwanda. The project will target over 30,000 households and cover a total area of 15,000 hectares. Local stakeholders will plant various tree species in agroforestry systems to restore the biodiversity of degraded ecosystems. This will also support timber productivity, carbon sequestration as well as soil and water conservation. Sustainable livelihood options will also be created through nature-based value chains, via the sustainable production of timber, coffee, tea, and fruits.
  • Restoring land through agroforestry
    Agroforestry is based on the introduction of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape. The introduction of agroforestry practices increases crop productivity while improving the resilience of the degraded ecosystems. Integrating indigenous species in agroforestry helps to restore biodiversity in agricultural lands and reduce soil erosion. It also contributes to the local population’s food security and to the diversification of the income generated by crops.
  • Fostering collective action
    A network of over 1,000 community groups will be mobilised and empowered through the Living Lab. The trees planted and the forest goods produced as well as the commercialisation of coffee and tea will contribute to develop the livelihoods of up to 120,000 people. A network of cooperatives will be created, together with 31 nature-based community funds to ensure the financial sustainability of the work carried out. This approach will improve local producers’ access to established community groups and help them enhance and diversify their income.

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

Restoration of the Indonesian Mangrove

Living Labs

Restoration of the Indonesian Mangrove

This multi-year project will restore and protect mangroves in North Sumatra, as well as provide economic opportunities to local communities.

Project launch: 2017
Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
Objectives: Biodiversity conservation, fight against climate change, protection of coastlines and fight against rising sea levels, economic development for indigenous populations
Key activities: 1,000,000 trees planted by 2021-2022 / Awareness raising of local communities / Involvement of women / Training and capacity building
Main species planted: Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata), Red mangrove (Rhizophora stylosa), Loop-root mangrove (Rhizophora mucronata)
Partners: Local communities, Reforest’Action, Yagasu

Why?

In 1987, there were 200,000 hectares of mangroves in North Sumatra. Today, less than half remains with just 83,000 hectares. This massive deforestation is mainly due to human pressure: the mangrove is converted into areas for intensive shrimp and fish breeding, and illegally cut down to make firewood or charcoal.

The mangrove of Sumatra is essential for local communities: its disappearance generates a saline seep which makes the coastal lands uncultivatable. Coastline protection from erosion and rising sea levels is also removed.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This multi-year Living Lab in Indonesia aims to restore and protect mangroves, raising awareness and educating the public about the environment. The project combines five different species of mangrove planting along the coasts of North Sumatra. Approximately 200,000 trees were planted in 2019-2020; 300,000 in 2020-2021 and 500,000 are planned during 2021-2022.
    Key activities and benefits of the mangrove restoration include: maintenance of the banks, retention of sediments, maintenance of fishing activities through biodiversity and participatory planting, the involvement of women, and awareness raising of local communities.
  • Restoring the mangrove
    Thanks to its aerial roots, the mangrove is the only tree capable of growing in salt water. Mangrove trees are planted by the sea to fight against shoreline erosion and to protect the surrounding villages from rising water levels. The trees also help to preserve the coastline biodiversity, on which the populations depend, especially for food through fishing.
    The young plants are produced from propagules in tree nurseries associated with the project. Propagules are long tubers that fall from the mangroves and are then harvested by local communities within the remaining mangroves.
  • Protecting coastal areas
    Trees are planted along the coast, in several villages located in the north of Sumatra island. Near the villages of Kuala Langsa, Lubuk Kertang and Sicanang, the planting of mangrove trees in coastal areas will gradually restore degraded soils and protect the coasts from erosion and rising water levels.
  • Integrating and training local communities
    To include and educate as many people as possible, Yagasu offers training workshops for local communities about the protection of mangroves and the fight against deforestation. By encouraging the development of economic sectors directly coming from the mangrove, the Living Lab works to ensure the sustainability of the Sumatran mangrove, simultaneously increasing the economic development of local populations.

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 14 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

Development of Fruit Forests in the Amazon Rainforest

Living Labs

Development of Fruit Forests in the Amazon Rainforest

This multi-year community-based project aims to involve traditional populations of protected reserves in the creation of fruit forests.

Project launch: 2019
Location: State of Rondônia, Brazilian Amazon
Objectives: Fighting against deforestation, restoration of degraded ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, economic development of indigenous populations
Key activities: 1 million trees planted of 34 different species / Training and capacity building
Main species planted: Main species planted: Acai (Euterpe oleracea), Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum) and Amazon walnut tree (Bertholletia excelsa), Roucouyer (Bixa Orellana), Andiroba (Carapa guianensis), Peach palm (Bactris gasipaes), Courbaril (Hymenaea courbaril)
Partners: Local communities, Reforest’Action, Rioterra

Why?

The Amazon rainforest, one of the three largest primary forests in the world, is also one of the most impacted by deforestation, with 4 million trees disappearing each year. Industrial agriculture generates two-thirds of deforestation in South America. For example, Brazil, the world’s largest soybean producer, has converted 18% of its forest ecosystems since 1970 – through clearcuts and fires – into livestock farming, soybeans crops and oil palm plantations.

This Living Lab is located in the State of Rondônia, in the southwest of the Brazilian Amazon, which is part of the “deforestation arc” formed by vast territories where the agricultural frontier and deforestation have greatly increased in recent decades.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This Living Lab is a community-based project, which aims to involve traditional populations of protected reserves in the creation of fruit forests by guaranteeing them access to these resources. Reforestation combines a wide variety of species which are selected according to the climate and soil conditions of the area and the needs of the local populations.
  • Establishing fruit forests
    This highly innovative Living Lab is carried out within extractive reserves, on plots of land that have historically been deforested to establish conventional pastures, to the cost of local and traditional populations. These heavily degraded pastures will be reforested with the support of SEDAM, a federal and sovereign organization over its own territory, which will ensure the proper conduct of the project alongside Rioterra.
    The fruit forests thus created will be returned to the traditional populations, who have lived for generations in these reserves. All planted species are chosen in line with the needs of local communities: Acai produces berries with highly nutritious qualities; Cupuaçu produces a vegetable butter appreciated for its soothing and restorative virtues; Roucouyer and Andiroba are known for their medicinal properties; the Peach palm and the Amazonian walnut tree produce fruits and nuts which are consumed by local communities; and Courbaril will ultimately be used to produce quality wood.
  • Plantation areas
    Trees are planted within multiple extractive reserves (Rio Preto Jacundá, Aquariquara, Jatobá, Castanheira, Angelim, Mogno and Sucupira) in the state of Rondônia, in the Brazilian Amazon. Planting areas are likely to change based on each planting season, depending on the needs of local communities and the development of the project.
  • Integrating and training local communities
    The Living Lab aims to offer educational sessions, so that local and traditional populations can be made aware of the importance of preserving planted trees in the long term, and can achieve autonomous development that respects their environment.

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 13 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

A Living Lab for Nature, People and the Planet in the Romanian Carpathian mountains

Living Labs

A Living Lab in the Romanian Carpathian mountains

This 5-year project will protect and connect old growth forest fragments in Romanian Carpathians, as well as restore ancient orchards and wildflower meadows while providing new economic opportunities to local communities.

Project launch: 2021
Location: Romanian Carpathians
Objectives: Restoring ancient orchards and wildflower meadows while providing new economic opportunities to local communities
Key activities: Protection and restoration of old-growth forests / Protection and restoration of wildflower meadows and traditional orchards / Communication and capacity building
Main species planted: European beech (Fagus sylvatica), silver fir (Abies alba), swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra), alder (Alnus sp.)
Partners: Carpathia, EFI, Villa Abbatis Cultural Association

Carpathia forest

Why?

The Carpathian Mountains form some of the largest contiguous forests on the European continent with the highest percentage of still virgin woodlands. They contain an extraordinary high number of species, amongst them many native species; and they are home to the largest European populations of large carnivores.

Starting in 2005, formerly nationalised forests have been given back to private people in Romania. This process triggered massive clear-cuts and many thousands of hectares of forests were illegally logged, posing a severe threat to the integrity of the Carpathian ecosystem. Pressure from large agri-business companies to buy land and industrialize agriculture is putting at risk traditional farming practices as well as the mosaic-like landscapes, including meadows, orchards and forests that are one of Europe’s most unique cultural and natural heritage.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This 5-year project in the Romanian Carpathians will restore around 2,500 hectares of old growth forests and around 50 hectares of ancient orchards and wildflower meadows to protect the biodiversity typical of Southern Transylvania and explore new business opportunities for local communities.
  • Protecting and restoring old-growth forests
    The project will protect and connect old growth forest fragments with a focus on the Upper Dambovita Valley. To accelerate the development of climate-resilient natural forest habitats, and enhance the function of buffer zones, the project aims to transform spruce monocultures into natural mixed forests, introducing missing species.
  • Protecting and restoring wildflower meadows and traditional orchards
    The Living Lab aims to restore around 50 hectares of wildflower meadows and ancient orchards and establish a nursery to preserve historical varieties of apple and pear trees in the village of Apos in Sibiu County, Central Transylvania. This will result in a “genetic reservoir” of these varieties to reintroduce them back into other parts of Romania.
    The project will also help to preserve the historic man-made landscape around the Medieval Saxon and Romanian villages and will become an important part of preserving the rich local biodiversity and cultural landscapes. The restoration work includes 25 hectares strategically located between forests and meadows, acting as a perfect habitat for local species, a larder for bears, and a buffer zone between forest and meadows.
  • Building capacity and communication
    The project will engage with local communities on the importance of restoring biodiversity and transitioning to sustainable forestry and regenerative agriculture practices, as well as on the potential for eco-cultural tourism for the local economy. This will include a series of events and publications, as well as capacity building and training.
Romania child and apples
Romania meadow

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 4 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

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The Eastern Himalayan Living Lab: Rural futures through natural capital

Living Labs

The Eastern Himalayan Living Lab: Rural futures through natural capital

This 3-year community-based project in the Eastern Himalayas aims to restore natural forests and degraded lands to create corridors for elephants, while fostering the resilience of local community livelihoods.

Project launch: 2021
Location: Assam, India
Objectives: Enhance the resilience of landscape and community through restoration and regenerative agroforestry
Key activities: Plant 1 million trees / 900 hectares forest restoration / 100 hectares agroforestry restoration
Main species planted: Ficus (Ficus sp.), Ramontchi (Flacourtia indica), Mulberry (Morus sp.), Ashoka (Saraca asoca), Moringa (Moringa sp.), Lemon (Citrus limon), Mango (Mangifera indica)
Partners: Local communities, Reforest’Action, Balipara Foundation, Pretaterra, Verstegen

India Living Lab

Why?

Assam is located in the eastern tip of India, between Bhutan, China and Bangladesh. Since 2000, this region of the eastern Himalayas has lost more than 9.5% of its vegetation cover, due to the increasing conversion of natural primary forests to agricultural plots, and the invasion of exotic species that thrive at the expense of native vegetation. The result is a decline in the health of natural ecosystems, including soil degradation, increasing land desertification and the depletion of water tables.

Faced with a degraded environment, local populations are confronted with decreasing agricultural yields, which goes hand in hand with the collapse of their food security – in the state of Assam, only 8% of young people between the ages of 6 and 23 benefit from a healthy and balanced diet.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This Living Lab is a 3-year community-based project, which aims to restore natural forests and degraded lands to create corridors for elephants, while fostering the resilience of local community livelihoods. Through forest restoration linked incomes, those local communities will be better able to access universal basic assets such as healthcare and education.
    The project will use agroforestry to create diverse and stable income streams for rural and forest-fringe communities, while enhancing their food security and improving watershed recharge through restored biodiversity and ecosystem health.
  • Restoring the landscape
    The project generates income through community forest restoration. Multiple species of endemic trees will be planted in deforested areas to regenerate the soil and restore the forest cover that populated them only a few decades ago. Prime focus will be given to the restoration of key habitat corridors, to facilitate the migration of Asian elephants and other wildlife, mitigating human-elephant conflict.
  • Developing agroforestry
    Local farmers will be trained in agroforestry, to enable trees to be included as an integral component of agriculture. This improves soil quality, reduces soil erosion and increases crop yields while making agriculture more sustainable and diversified. A variety of fruit species, including moringa, lemon and mango, will be planted on farmers’ plots to protect the underlying crops and provide local people with additional income from the sale of their fruits and seeds. Black myrobolan will also be planted to provide sustainably managed wood resources to the community.
  • Integrating and training local communities
    The Living Lab aims to integrate and closely involve local communities and farmers, training them in agroforestry techniques and the long-term maintenance of the planted trees. They will also be  equipped with the skills to restore forests and monitor biodiversity.
India Living Lab
Assam, India

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 9 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

SDGs Nigeria

A Living Lab for Nature and People: Developing agroforestry with local producers in Nigeria

Living Labs

Developing agroforestry with local producers in Nigeria

This Living Lab is a two-year project which aims to put trees and their countless benefits back at the heart of farmers’ daily lives. The project aims to develop agroforestry in ten states in the north central region of Nigeria.

Project launch: 2021
Location: North central region of Nigeria
Objectives: Foster resilience of cashew farms and community livelihoods
Key activities: Tree planting / Agroforestry training / Environmental education programmes for local communities
Main species planted: Ficus (Ficus sp.), filao (Casuarina equisetifolia), cashew (Anacardium occidentale), papaya (Carica papaya), pomegranate (Punica granatum), Acacia (Acacia sp.)
Partners: Local communities, Reforest’Action, Pretaterra, Green Sahara Farms

Nigeria Green Sahara Keana

Why?

Nigeria lost 60 million hectares of primary tropical forest during the 20th century, and continues to lose more than 5% of its forest area each year due to deforestation. This Living Lab will showcase how to restore degraded land using agroforestry systems that integrate trees around and within farmers’ fields.

The planted trees provide multiple ecosystem services, including the enrichment of cultivated soils and the provision of a protective canopy to the underlying crops. The benefits are also economic, with fruit trees enabling diversification of production and the generation of additional income through the sale of fruit on local markets. Ultimately, the integration of trees into agricultural plots will not only develop and sustain these new agroforestry systems, but also increase the productivity of their main crops, which will be sold to local agribusinesses for export or domestic use.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This Living Lab is a two-year project which aims to put trees and their countless benefits back at the heart of farmers’ daily lives. The project aims to develop agroforestry in ten states in the north central region of Nigeria. During the first year of the project, a total of 250,000 trees of 50 different species will be integrated into individual agricultural plots owned by 2,500 local farmers, a total area of 1,250 hectares.
  • Developing agroforestry
    The project will introduce and plant a multitude of tree species within and around cashew fields, providing a main crop of cashew nuts (which will be aggregated through Green Sahara Farms and sold to agro-industrial companies). This includes:

    Fruit tree species, such as papaya, pomegranate, to provide a secondary crop of fruit for the farmer’s personal consumption or for sale in local markets.
    Leguminous species, such as acacia, fix nitrogen and provide the nutrients necessary for soil fertilization, as well as fodder for livestock.
    Tall tree species, such as ficus and filao, provide a protective forest cover over the food crops.

    The interaction between the trees planted and the pre-existing agricultural crops will therefore improve agricultural production and gradually lead to an improvement in the living standards of the farmers.
  • Integrating and training local communities
    The project, in partnership with Green Sahara Farms, provides training and capacity building to local farmers in the application of agroforestry and in the management of their farming enterprises. They are also encouraged to adopt organic production and environmentally sustainable farming systems.
Nigeria Green Sahara Keana
Nigeria Field Green Sahara Gindiri Farm

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 9 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

SDGs Nigeria

A Living Lab for community and ecological resilience, Ghana

Living Labs

A Living Lab for community and ecological resilience, Ghana

This 10-year community-based project in Atebubu, Ghana aims to foster both ecological and community resilience. It will demonstrate the power of biodiversity regeneration and a nature-inspired economy to catalyse local jobs, livelihoods, and economic alternatives – all co-designed with local stakeholders.

Project launch: 2021
Location: Atebubu & Wiase, Bono East Region, central Ghana
Objectives: Foster ecological and community resilience through forest landscape restoration
Key activities: Plant and steward 4.5 million trees / Restore 2,500 hectares of dry and savannah forest on degraded areas / Facilitate a Multi-Stakeholder Platform and capacity building / Foster social inclusion and improve livelihoods for women/youth
Main species planted: Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), Senya (Daniellia oliveri), Dawa Dawa (Parkia biglobosa)
Partners: Local farmers, African Plantations for Sustainable Development, NGPTA, Nature and Development Foundation, AstraZeneca

Visit the project website: https://atebubu.newgenerationplantations.org/

Ghanaian woman

Why?

The two communities of Atebubu and Wiase are located in the Bono East Region in central Ghana, near Lake Volta and the Digya National Park. The districts are key areas for charcoal production, and the natural forested land in the area has been subject to heavy encroachment by farmers and illegal tree cutting for charcoal. Degradation, habitat change from dry forest to savannah woodland and agricultural clearance has also contributed to the intensity and incidence of wildfires.

Common challenges faced by local communities in the region include unemployment, deteriorating soil fertility, limited education opportunities, poor communication networks, changing climate and weather-related challenges. The current challenging conditions, poverty and lack of opportunities are leading to low standards of living and out-migration, as well as encroachment on forested land.

What?

  • Action on the ground
    This Living Lab is a 10-year community-based project, which aims to foster both ecological and community resilience. It will demonstrate the power of biodiversity regeneration and a nature-inspired economy to catalyse local jobs, livelihoods, and economic alternatives – all co-designed with local stakeholders.
  • Restoring the landscape
    The Living Lab will plant and steward 4.5 million trees, as well as assisting and encouraging natural regeneration, with the aim of enhancing biodiversity and establishing landscapes that are adaptive to climate change and natural disturbances. This includes improving soil quality, purifying water sources and protecting watersheds, as well as helping to prevent erosion and floods. The trees will also improve local air quality, provide shade and sequester carbon.
  • Empowering the community
    The Living Lab will facilitate a Multi-Stakeholder Platform – to engage local stakeholders including landowners, land managers, communities, civil society, governments, and the private sector to collectively design, govern and benefit from the project.
  • Fostering social inclusion
    The Living Lab aims to improve livelihoods for women and youth through employment in tree nurseries, the timber value chain, and as community mobilizers. It also facilitates capacity building through an out-grower scheme and community meetings.
  • Creating nature-based business models
    The Living Lab will create circular business models relying on biological resources (biomaterials and bioenergy) and nature-based systems. It aims to improve financial literacy and business development for smallholder farmers connected to agroforestry and woodlots, and provide resources for farmers to participate in and benefit from new commercial bio-based products and services.
  • Developing economically sustainable and equitable forest systems
    The Living Lab integrates tradition and technology while introducing new technologies to create innovative bio-based value chains, respecting local traditions and rights. It aims to increase food security through innovative farming methods, and embed practices that cause less harm to the landscape.
Living Lab for community and ecological resilience, Ghana
Living Lab for community and ecological resilience, Ghana

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 7 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.

Sustainable Development GOALS

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