Issue 11: April 2011

Issue 11 April 2011 | Feedback
Apologies for the late appearance of this issue of Transformations, we delayed it so that we could bring you news about the new Director General. We will be back on schedule for the next issue, due out in May. This issue also profiles some of the many activities we are involved in during this the International Year of Forests. There are reports on a workshop in Nigeria on expanding tree cover on farms and one on mobilizing private investment for increased tree planting in Africa. Two new books are launched - one on smallholder tree growing and one on antimalarial species in East Africa. Plus we announce our biggest ever project in Southeast Asia.
April 2011 Board meeting
In addition to selecting a new Director General and reviewing current progress, the most recent Board meeting in Nairobi involved plenty of discussion about how the Centre will interact with the reforms underway across the CGIAR. This involves the creation of seven thematic areas and 15 CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs) which will lead to more collaboration and less overlap with other research centres. We will be involved in six of the seven thematic areas/CRPs, with major collaboration in two of them: CRP6: Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, and CRP7: Agriculture and Climate Change. The management committees of the World Agroforestry Centre and CIFOR also met jointly at the conclusion of the Board meeting. Read the full story, see photos or download presentations from the meeting.
New book on antimalarial trees in East Africa
Released in the lead up to with World Malaria Day, a new book by researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Common Antimalarial Trees and Shrubs of East Africa, provides a detailed assessment of 22 species which traditional medicinal practitioners and scientists believe have potential for further study. Many of the species with promising antimalarial qualities—ones that have treated malaria symptoms in the region’s communities for hundreds of years—are at risk of extinction due to deforestation and over-exploitation for medicinal uses.
New project will bolster agroforestry and forestry in Sulawesi
The single biggest project in the history of the Centre’s Southeast Asia Programme aims to improve livelihoods and environments, bolster food security and support good governance in Sulawesi, Indonesia. In partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency the five-year CA$ 9 million project, titled Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge with Action, will see a range of research for development measures applied to the diverse ecological and socio-economic conditions in Sulawesi.
Re-greening the Sahel
How to replicate the results of farmer managed natural regeneration in the Zinder and Maradi regions - which have seen the greening of more than 4.8 million hectares – to other parts of Nigeria and the Sahel formed the basis of an international conference in Niamey in January. Organized by the Centre and partners under the theme, Agroforestry as a basis for food security and environmental resilience in Niger and the Sahel, the conference identified the need to increase tree density on farm through employing a staged approached with multipurpose trees and access to the best technologies.
New book on smallholder tree growing
To address the relative lack of attention paid to smallholder tree growing by scientific and development communities versus large-scale reforestation projects, this new book has a collection of peer-reviewed papers (including 10 chapters co-authored by Centre staff) which explore the potential role that tree growing by farmers can play in sustainable forest management. Smallholder Tree Growing for Rural Development and Environmental Services draws on case studies from the Philippines and comparative data from a number of Asian countries. For more information on the book, see the details on the publisher’s website
Workshop on private investment in trees
The Centre is joining forces with the Program on Forests (PROFOR), IUCN and the World Bank to co-organize an investment forum in Nairobi from 25 to 27 May titled Mobilizing Private Investment in Trees and Landscape Restoration in Africa. The forum will explore the potential for private sector investment that can help achieve triple wins of increasing rural incomes, making yields more resilient in the face of climate extremes, and promoting agriculture as a solution to the climate change problem. For further information, visit:
Celebrating women in science
The Centre marked International Women’s Day with several events around this year’s highly relevant theme of Equal access to education, training and science and technology: pathway to decent work for women. In our West and Central Africa Region, there were handball matches, a film screening and discussion of how the Centre’s work in tree domestication has empowered women in rural communities. At headquarters in Nairobi, the Centre combined with the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) project on a panel discussion looking at the role of women scientists. At both events, it was recognized that while there are now more women in agricultural research and higher education, there is still a long way to go.
Changing of the guard
Tony_DennisTony Simons (left) will take over from Dennis Garrity (right) as Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre in October this year.

Dr Tony Simons is to be the new Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre, when Dr Dennis Garrity retires in October this year.

“We are facing great challenges to evolve a greener, more food secure world”, Board Chair, Prof Eric Tollens remarked as he made the eagerly awaited announcement on 8 April at the conclusion of the 53rd meeting of the Board of Trustees to the Centre in Nairobi. “Tony has the vision and skills to take the Centre to even greater heights of success in achieving our mission.”

Simons’ was appointed after an intensive search process that involved more than 300 applicants and culminated in a week of interviews, focus group sessions and presentations by the final shortlisted individuals.

“Thank you for the trust you have shown in me,” Dr Simons said. “I am humbled, energized and motivated by this faith. With your help and support we can do wonderful things together in these exciting times of CGIAR reform.”

Raised in New Zealand, Dr Simons has been Deputy Director General of the Centre since 2008 and played a major role in implementing the Centre’s strategy. Prior to that, he led our Trees and Markets research program. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK and was appointed Honorary Professor in Tropical Forestry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark in 2009.

As the new Director of the Centre, Dr Simons will play a vital role in setting the agenda for how agroforestry research in the developing world generates more impact in the coming decades. He takes over from Dr Dennis Garrity who has been Director for 10 years and under whose leadership, the Centre has gone from strength to strength, both scientifically and financially.

“I am delighted. Tony is superbly qualified for the position. We have full confidence in his abilities to lead the Centre forward with great creative energy.” Dr Garrity said.

For more information, read the full story on our website

Media training for better science stories

Journalists and scientists learn from each other during the ‘Better Science Reporting’ workshop in Nairobi.

Helping journalists to better report science stories and advising scientists on how to effectively deal with journalists was at the core of a workshop in Nairobi in March, titled Better Science Reporting – Agroforestry, Agriculture and the Environment. Funded by UK Department for International Development (DFID) and run by the UK media group WRENmedia, the workshop gave 12 Nairobi print and radio journalists the opportunity to interact with scientists during an intensive week of training sessions and field-based reporting tasks.

"We had 80 applications for this workshop, which really encouraged us. It proves that reporting on science and agriculture can be an attractive option for journalists who are prepared to work hard and face the challenges presented by technical language and scientific detail," said WRENmedia's Mike Davison. "One of the most important results of this workshop is the increased confidence our trainees get. Now, if they are confused by something they have the confidence to ask for clarification. Knowing how to be accurate but also accessible - and exciting - is also a vital skill for scientists to learn, if they want their work to be appreciated and understood."

“This was a really useful approach, because the journalists learned how to talk to scientists and the scientists learned what journalists need for a good story,” said Paul Stapleton, Head of Communications at the World Agroforestry Centre. “DFID is to be commended for supporting such an innovative approach to media capacity building.”

Sessions were held at the World Agroforestry Centre headquarters, CAB International and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, as well as several field visits accompanied by scientists. Following these, it was up to the journalists to put the lessons into practice by reporting on the projects and initiatives they heard about and saw.

Prizes were up for grabs for the best print and radio feature, and they went to Bob Koigi (print) and Lilian Otieno (radio) for their reports on the Centre’s work on fodder trees.

Transformations is produced by the World Agroforestry Centre Communications Unit.
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