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Diversify your landscapes redux

I originally published this post on 29 July, but then Dr Baudron pointed to two additional papers on Twitter, and then later to another one, so I’m re-upping, for the second time, with a sixth bullet point.

There’s a nice series of papers on the benefits of diverse landscapes in Ethiopia from Frédéric Baudron of CIMMYT and others.

Just in case this tweet disappears, or whatever, here are the links:

  1. Wheat yields and zinc content are higher closer to forests because of elevated organic matter in the soil.
  2. Diets are also more diverse nearer forests.
  3. Livestock (but not crop) productivity is higher nearer forests, and smallholder systems generally more sustainable.
  4. Bird diversity benefits from tree cover too, and that provides important ecosystem services to smallholders.
  5. Even limited reforestation in the surrounding landscape is associated with higher wheat yields in simulations, and you can potentially measure it from space.
  6. More people, more trees.”

A little R&R for ecosystems

It seems we missed, back in August, a huge report on CGIAR’s work on ecosystem restoration. After a thorough stocktaking, the report suggests the following are critical for successful restoration:

  1. secure tenure and use rights
  2. access to markets (for inputs and outputs) and services
  3. access to information, knowledge and know-how associated with sustainable and locally adapted land use and land management practices
  4. awareness of the status of local ecosystem services, often used as a baseline to assess the level of degradation
  5. high potential for restoration to contribute to global ecosystem services and attract international donors

Which seems sensible. At least if “practices” in 3 and “services” in 4 and 5 include some consideration of genetic diversity. And on that note, it’s also about time we linked to the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s page on Restore & Renew (R&R).

It only covers New South Wales and Victoria, but the R&R Webtool could be something for CGIAR to run with globally. You pick a spot you want to restore, and, for a selection of trees, it tells you where best to source germplasm from. That’s based on current climate, future climate and, crucially, genetic similarity1 (if data are available).

Of course, this is just the start. Scaling up the supply of tree seeds for landscape restoration remains a major challenge. A recent review, also involving CGIAR scientists, makes quite a few useful recommendations. But in the end, I suspect, it will come down to this:

  • put in place incentives and enabling policies to support smallholders in producing, trading and using high-quality genetically diverse reproductive materials
  1. But see this for a different view. []