A third of our planet is covered with forests and about 1 billion people depend on forest resources for their everyday lives. Forests are a nutritional bounty and provide essential services to mainstream agriculture. Without them, future food supplies will be compromised. Forests play a vital role in slowing the pace of climate change through carbon storage and in helping countries adapt to severe weather events.

Yet, in the time it takes to read this webpage, an area of forest roughly equal to 100 football fields (45 hectares) will have been cleared to make way for agriculture, mining, pastures and other non-forest uses, or will have been degraded by unsustainable and illegal logging and other poor land-use practices.

The CGIAR Research Program, ‘Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: Livelihoods, Landscapes and Governance’ responds to a call for an urgent, strong and sustained effort focused on forest management and governance, given the crucial role of forests in confronting some of the most important challenges of our time: climate change, poverty and food security.

The Center for International Forestry Research leads the program in partnership with Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and the World Agroforestry Centre. The centres collaborate with leading national research institutes and other organizations, partnering with knowledge-sharing experts to maximize outreach and share research results with policy and practitioner partners. In turn, these partners, use and share this knowledge on the ground in the developing world.

The program is made up of five research components:

  • Smallholder production systems and markets, with a focus on boosting the productivity and sustainability of forestry and agroforestry, increasing incomes in forested areas, and improving policies and institutions that affect land rights for the rural poor;
  • Management and conservation of forest and tree resources, which involves research into threats to important tree species, conserving high-value tree species, improving silviculture practices, and developing ways to resolve conflicts over resource rights;
  • Landscape management of forested areas for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, which explores the drivers and consequences of forest transition—in which deforested and degraded lands are restored—for environmental goods and services;
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation, which considers how forests, trees and agroforestry can play a role in climate change mitigation and also how they can help people adapt to climate change; and
  • Impacts of trade and investment on forests and people, which seeks to understand the effects of forest-related trade and investment and to improve efforts to mitigate the negative and enhance the positive impacts.

Impact driven and innovative, the program’s eventual impact will enhance the management and use of forests, agroforestry and tree genetic resources across the landscape, from farms to forests. The initiative will target 46% of global forest cover, 1.3 billion hectares of closed forests and 500 million hectares of open and fragmented forests.