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ICRAF Science Week Covers Advances in Agroforestry

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)13 September 2013: During the 2013 Science Week of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), scientists and experts gave presentations and engaged in discussions on the research taking place in over 35 countries around the world.

Science Week, which took place from 9-13 September 2013 at ICRAF headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, brought together almost 200 scientists who discussed a range of biophysical and social results. Researchers Anja Gassner, Ric Coe, Jason Donovan, Tor-Gunnar Vågen, Constance Neely and Eike Luedeling delivered a keynote address that considered the challenges of managing the quality and quantity of data available to scientists. They described the importance of presenting information in forms that are digestible to decision makers. This increased importance of developing actionable outlets for scientific research was welcomed in the address, over the former focus on publishing in academic journals.

The speakers highlighted the move of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) toward open-access data. Early results of research on charcoal and forest degradation were presented by ICRAF scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. The authors of the review on the status of woodfuels in sub-Saharan Africa noted that by 2030 the charcoal industry is expected to be a $12 billion industry that employs 12 million. They stressed the role of charcoal in the systematic degradation of dryland forests and noted the paradox that though fuelwood represents the most important use of trees, few farmers plant trees to produce fuel.

Another presentation dissected the importance of commodity demand in China at influencing global trade. This was highlighted in relation to a lack of demand for sustainable forest management (SFM) in China, and subsequent impact on African forests.

In the closing panel, presenters identified the "path to progress." Achim Steiner, Executive Director and Under-Secretary General of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), argued that the path to sustainability begins with secure land rights. He stressed the need to adopt the paradigm of the green economy. Segenet Kelemu, Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, called for a systems approach to managing ecosystem, and underscored the importance of agrobiodiversity. Dennis Garrity, UN Drylands Ambassador and ICRAF Senior Fellow, described the role of agroforestry in the achievements of the Great Green Wall. He presented contrasting perspectives of pastoral systems in Africa and a vision for the perennialization of agriculture.

ICRAF is a member of CGIAR. [ICRAF Science Week Keynote Address] [ICRAF Science Week Presentation on Woodfuel] [ICRAF Science Week Presentation on Chinese Consumption] [ICRAF Science Week Closing Session]