International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), at a United Nations Forum on Forests in New York, called on countries with big forest-dependent population to adopt national policies and land-use strategies that support the planting of multi-functional trees to provide food, timber, fuel wood, medicine and a host of environmental services that could access safe nutritious food for all, NaijaAgroNet reports.
The Union, NaijaAgroNet gathered, estimates that some 805 million people – one in nine citizens of Earth – are undernourished, primarily in Africa and Asia. At the same time, between 1.2 and 1.5 billion people worldwide depend on forests for all or most of their diet and livelihood.
Stepha Mcmullin, social scientist and member of the Union report’s Authors, also concurred that forests and tree-based farming systems such as agroforestry can complement agricultural production to ensure greater food security and better nutrition for some of the world's most vulnerable communities.
“If you're familiar with shade-grown coffee, then you have an idea of what agroforestry is all about. By planting fruit trees and other useful species, selectively weeding and otherwise managing the forests as intensively as any farmer might tend their fields and rotate their crops; people all over the world have created gardens that resemble natural forests in many ways, including providing suitable habitat for a diverse array of flora and fauna.” He said.
McMullin who, NaijaAgroNet gathered, advocated that forests and tree-based systems also benefit people indirectly, sited an instance in the Sahel region of Africa, noting that by planting trees, poor farmers have turned millions of acres of what had become semi-desert by the 1980s into more productive land, where trees now account for 80 per cent of average household incomes in the region, largely through shea-nut production.
Coordinator of IUFRO’s Global Forest Expert Panels initiative, Christoph Wildburger, told NaijaAgroNet that tree-based farming can help prevent climate change calamities, which is also a threat, not just to the productivity of agroforests but to conventional agricultural operations, as well.
“Large-scale crop production is highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, which may occur more frequently under climate change. Science shows that tree-based farming can adapt far more better to such calamities. We know that forest already play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change. It should also be made very clear that they also play a key role in alleviating hunger and improving nutrition.” He said.Ultimately, lack of community control over forests and, of course, deforestation could limit the abilities of forests to enhance food security. Forest management in most countries is fragmented across different governmental agencies and administrative jurisdictions.
Daniel Nsolibe /Ed, Ops.
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