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In 2018, Forests News covered some of the year’s most controversial environmental issues, with science at the heart of our reporting. The year began with an EU rethink on bioenergy, proceeded with a deep dig on oil palm plantations, catapulted to a clarion call on climate change (yes, that IPCC report), and ended on the world stage at COP 24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

As 2018 draws to a close, here’s your top six stories of 2018:

Should we burn trees for energy?

In January, more than 650 scientists signed a letter demanding an amendment to a European Union directive’s definition of forest biomass. Robert Nasi, Director General of CIFOR, agreed in principle with the letter, but said the reality of forest biomass supply chains and carbon dynamics is even more complex than the letter’s argument makes out.

   Shanti Tamang, 19 ans, travaille dans les champs du village de Nalma au Népal. CIFOR Photo/Mokhamad Edliadi

Forty years of restoration in Nepal

An experiment in community-based forest landscape restoration (CBFLR), initiated by the Nepalese government in the late 1970s, has helped reverse damage around the Phewa Lake region in Nepal, allowing the area to re-blossom into a clean watershed for local communities. A recent paper documents this recovery, providing analysis of land cover change in the surrounding area over a 40-year period.

   In West Java’s Mount Halimun Salak National Park, agroforestry can play a key role in food security for local communities while helping maintain the landslide-prone landscape. CIFOR Photo/Aulia Erlangga

Why don’t farmers plant more trees?

Agroforestry provides a number of benefits for smallholder tree farmers. However, this raises the question: if tree-based farming works, why isn’t every farmer planting trees? In research published last year, scientists from CIFOR and partner institutions documented agroforestry practices in two tropical Asian locations – Mount Salak Valley in West Java and Khagrachhari District in eastern Bangladesh – to find the answer.

   An employee of Rite Trade logging company in the West Are'Are region of Solomon Islands. Tessa Minter

In Solomon Islands the gender effects of corporate logging

Logging in Solomon Islands is openly deemed unsustainable, with round-log exports doomed to decline if the present production rate continues. Among the most afflicted by this malpractice are women, in ways ranging from food and water insecurity to domestic violence and sexual abuse.

   Uncontrolled hunting of African gorillas is leading to a rapid decline in their population. CIFOR Photo/Douglas Sheil

Taste for gorilla and chimp meat fuels illicit trade
Gorilla meat remains a delicacy in Cameroon, even though hunting great apes is illegal in the country. A new study lifts the curtain on the great ape meat trade around the Dja Biosphere Reserve in south-eastern Cameroon, revealing a chain of hunters, traders, transportation workers and consumers in rural and urban areas.

   Aerial views of paddy field and oil palm plantations in Kutai Kertanegara district, East Kalimantan, in Indonesian Borneo. Balancing development and conservation is a key concern for sustainable oil palm landscapes. CIFOR Photo/Nanang Sujana

Oil palm landscapes: From Kalimantan to Colombia

In East Kalimantan, forests are facing increased pressure due to the accelerated expansion of oil palm plantations. The province has become the focus of research into Oil Palm Adaptive Landscapes, with parallels drawn from Kalimantan to Colombia. This four-part series proved to be some of our most popular posts of 2018. Can the environmental and economic equilibrium it went in search for, be achieved?

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This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.
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