Trees, woodlands and resilience in the drylands


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Dry forest and woodlands cover 54% of Africa and support 64% of its people with a wide range of environmental goods and services. Despite their importance, particularly for tackling climate change and food insecurity, these forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. In response to these challenges (and opportunities), CIFOR, in association with its partners and key stakeholders, convened a Dry Forests Symposium on 1 December 2011 alongside the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa. Edmund Barrow, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), gave this presentation as a keynote address at the symposium. Barrow has worked in Africa for over 35 years. His work is increasingly focused on the links between people's livelihoods and their natural environments, demonstrating the importance of environmental assets at different levels.

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Trees, woodlands and resilience in the drylands

  1. 1. Trees, Woodlands & Resilience in the Drylands Edmund Barrow, IUCNInternational Union for Conservation of Nature 1
  2. 2. Global distribution of drylands Approximately 40% of terrestrial surface of the planetInternational Union for Conservation of Nature 2
  3. 3. Resilient trees• Species – diversity, adapted to risk – produce more and higher quality in dry times• Adapted, able to bounce back• Valuable products – non-timber forest products, basis for land use• Dry forests as key assets for risk reduction and resilience enhancement• Conversely – can tip to degradation or/and bush land (tipped to new system)International Union for Conservation of Nature 3
  4. 4. Resilient people• Diverse livelihood options• Spatial and temporal uses – wet, dry, drought, famine• Trees for all seasons – management and ownership• Trees (and management) enhance adaptive capacities of people (products, importance at critical times)International Union for Conservation of Nature 4
  5. 5. Resilient systems • Trees core component of many systems • Produce (or/and retain quality) more and for longer in times of hardship • Livestock (esp. dry times) • Products (gums, shea butter) • Foods (people, sale) • Medicinals (people, livestock, sale)International Union for Conservation of Nature 5
  6. 6. Resilient institutions• Diverse land-use options• Wet-dry-drought time management strategies and rules• The customary governance means – capacity to make and enforce rules• But short term “projectised” approaches undermineInternational Union for Conservation of Nature 6
  7. 7. So what’s going/gone wrong???12/3/2011 7
  8. 8. Lack systems thinking that dryland users have • Governance – foundation of sustainable land management • Many rights lost (decisions, management, land) • Insecure rights weaken • Systems/governance are a process not a project • Understanding of what makes system work being lost and replaced by “one way silver bullet thinking” and short- term approaches.International Union for Conservation of Nature 8
  9. 9. Silver bullets don’t work • Want silver bullets (irrigation, or farming in wrong zones, livestock) • Often best lands expropriated (irrigation, farming) Outcome of herbivore exclusion on the Santa Rita Experimental Range, Arizona (Western U.S.)International Union for Conservation of Nature 9
  10. 10. Best Lands may be expropriation for Forests, Reserves, Par ks Respect various forms of community conserved areasInternational Union for Conservation of Nature 10
  11. 11. Impact of misunderstanding “mistaken received wisdom” (pastoralism, dryland use – antiquated, past its sell-by date)International Union for Conservation of Nature 11
  12. 12. Challenges for us “Tree People”! • How can we validate and enhance value of existing customary/indigenous knowledge and institutions? • Why are trees/forests so important for dryland systems? Why is that importance “hidden”? • How resilient are these systems, and how can resilience be further promoted? • How – within pillar-like sectoral policies – can we achieve system approaches that promote resilience?International Union for Conservation of Nature 12
  13. 13. Challenges for us “Tree People”!…continued • How can we better secure rights, strengthen governance, to support Sustainable Forest Model/Community Forest Management and enhanced livelihoods? • What incentives can we put in place for dryland forest management and why? • How can we optimise the increasing importance of “dry forests” in the face of climate change?International Union for Conservation of Nature 13
  14. 14. Perspectives on drylands: Multi-functionality – Forests a key assetInternational Union for Conservation of Nature 14