ASB has been selected by the Board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to serve as a cross-cutting assessment entitled "Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Tropics" (see concept note below).The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)--launched on June 5, 2001 (World Environment Day) by the United Nations, scientific groups, governments, foundations, and other international agencies--is an extensive study of the state of the world's major ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, rivers and lakes, farmlands, and oceans. For more information see the following Nature article entitled "Ecosystem health: The state of the planet."

Concept note:
Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Tropics
A Crosscutting Assessment by the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Consortium
Conducted as a Sub-Global Component of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

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I. Background
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a three-year (2002-2004) global environmental science initiative, modelled upon but going well beyond the scope of other environmental assessments such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). MA assessments have strong substantive similarities with ASB, but differ importantly in some procedural aspects. During 2001, there has been a dialogue between the MA and ASB, and there are low-risk, potentially high-payoff opportunities for ASB from participation in the MA in terms of science, capacity building, public awareness, and fundraising. In December 2001, ASB was approved as a sub-global assessment by the MA board.

II. MA expectations and objectives
The MA defines an assessment as "a social process to bring the findings of science to bear on the needs of decision makers." The following points are paraphrased from MA design documents.

1) Assessments should represent the latest scientific findings and be as comprehensive as possible. Because this is an assessment rather than a research process, most activities will involve synthesis of findings and information derived from existing publications and datasets. ASB proposes to lead one of the sub-global assessments and will be responsible for discrete outputs. ASB assessment products also will feed into other components of the assessment - including the global assessment and some other sub-global assessments.

2) However, it is recognized that some research and data collection will be necessary, especially at the local scale (corresponding to ASB benchmark sites). The proposed assessment and research activities for the ASB assessment (see linked activity matrix below entitled "Conditions and Trends Component of ASB Crosscutting Assessment") are mutually complementary and fit with the new directions for ASB research approved by the GSG in 2000.

3) Assessments and their supplementary research activities are not to be academic exercises; they will be user driven. Stakeholders at the local and national scale should set the agenda for and review the results of assessment activities and related research. The existing network of benchmark sites and the ASB national consortia mean ASB already has many of the mechanisms in place to establish the key social processes of consultation and review.

4) Capacity building for future assessments has equal priority to current assessment activities in the MA. Partnership with the MA will provide opportunities for capacity building within ASB, including methods for extrapolation of ASB results at larger spatial and temporal scales, and collaborative development of new methods.

5) Partnership with the MA will facilitate access to data by ASB partners (see column 4 of the activity matrix, linked below, for examples) and greater impact of ASB datasets and methods through use by MA partners outside ASB.

6) Partnership with the MA will significantly enhance ASB's public awareness and fundraising activities. Some seed money to launch the crosscutting assessment may be provided by the MA. Funds for most of the proposed activities will be raised though a joint effort that fits ASB's fundraising initiatives, including development of a concept for a CGIAR challenge programme. (See item V below for preliminary budget estimates under various activity scenarios.)

III. Scope of the ASB cross-cutting assessment (see MAPS)
The PAGE Agroecosystems study (2000, p. 11) by our colleagues Stan Wood, Kate Sebastian, and Sara Scherr, which was one of a set of MA precursors, observed that "many important and often more controversial ecosystem changes occur in the transition areas between ecosystems" and recommended that the MA include integrated assessments spanning ecosystem transitions. ASB proposes to conduct a nested, multi-level assessment of a transition area of global significance: the interface between the tropical forest ecosystem and forest-derived agroecosystems, focusing on the landscape mosaics that characterize the forest margins.

ASB's proposed cross-cutting assessment would contribute to the MA at the following scales:

Local. Eight existing ASB benchmark sites in Peru (1), Brazil (2), Cameroon (1), Thailand (1), Indonesia (2), and the Philippines (1). Possibility of adding outreach or associated sites - e.g. in West Africa, Kalimantan in Indonesia, and/or Yunnan in China, depends on funding and on GSG approval.

National: six countries with existing ASB national consortia (Peru, Brazil, Cameroon, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines), with scope for outreach to new countries as described above and in the ISIS/LIA proposal under review by the European Commission.

Continental. The crosscutting assessment spans the tropics, including four continental units on three continents
. --Western Amazonia in the Neotropics. (There may be opportunities to link with a proposed sub-global assessment in Meso-America.)
. --Central African forests of the Afrotropics.
. --Insular Southeast Asia (Sumatra and Mindanao) and Montane Mainland Southeast Asia (centered on Northern Thailand) in the Indomalay biogeographical realm. (Note: it is likely to be feasible to include Kalimantan in the Insular SE Asia studies and there may be opportunities to link with the proposed sub-global assessment in the Western Ghats of India).

(Note: no work is planned in Australasia, the fourth biogeographical realm in the tropics.)

Biome. All ASB sites are located within the Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest Biome, delineated in the Global 200 Ecoregions database of the WWF (WWF 2001), with a human population of some 500 million. The national and continental assessments will be restricted to areas within this biome.

IV. Assessment activities

ASB can get off to a quick start because of its years of work at the ASB benchmark sites and close rapport with policymakers in the six ASB countries. The main locations for local assessments already have been selected and, indeed, many of the assessment indicators already have been validated and quantified at these sites. Many stakeholders already are involved, although this is an opportunity to expand key links. Local and national stakeholder consultations will be needed to discuss assessment objectives, to establish the legitimacy of the assessments, and to identify the key issues that would be useful meet needs at the local and national scales. Some additional landscape mapping and collating of secondary data and information on the context of the assessments at the local and national level may be required.

Three components are intended for assessment at each scale of the MA:

Conditions (circa 2000) and trends (1995-2000). This component includes assessment of driving forces of land cover change; identification of indicators of environmental, social, and economic impacts; assessment of winners and losers, with particular attention to poverty reduction, and ecosystem valuation of goods and services. There clearly is a very close fit between the "conditions and trends component" of the MA and work that ASB has been doing at various scales for many years. At least at the outset, the bulk of ASB assessment activity is expected to focus on this component. A preliminary draft (linked below in Word matrix format) of possible topics and scales of assessment is attached; this also was the basis for projecting the bulk of funding that would be required for a multi-scale crosscutting assessment. Extrapolation of rates per unit area to larger scale aggregate estimates for various indicators will require significant spatial analysis effort.

Scenarios (2000-2030). There is little expertise in scientific approaches to scenario formulation among ASB's current partners. Association with the MA provides an opportunity to develop capacity for temporal extrapolation through involvement of ASB partners in the MA global working group on scenarios and also through enhanced access to scenarios on driving forces (e.g., migration and demographic transition, economic transformation, market integration, climate change) useful to ASB's partners. It is likely some funds will be available for ASB participation in the scenarios working group. That experience may provide the basis for planning and fundraising for scenario-based activities within ASB later in the assessment process.

Response options. The basic goal of ASB is to identify and test response options: combinations of policy, institutional and technological options that can raise productivity and income of rural households without increasing deforestation or undermining essential environmental services. The ASB crosscutting assessment will address response options in conjunction with driving forces (see attached activity matrix for conditions and trends.) ASB experience also can feed into this component of the MA at various other levels. ASB leadership or contributions to specific studies (e.g., of land and tree tenure reform, devolution of forest resource management, or environmental service payments) may be identified through the initiative of ASB partners or involvement with the response options working group.

V. Preliminary budget estimates for different thresholds of activity by ASB

1) USD 75,000 for inception meeting to launch the crosscutting assessment. Seed money for this activity will be requested from the MA.

2) USD 500,000 for ASB local assessment over two years, emphasizing synthesis of results for existing benchmark sites. Funding for some of these activities is included in the "International Scientific and Institutional Support for Local Initiatives and Action" (ISIS/LIA) submitted to the European Commission (EC) in May 2001. (The EC recently have indicated that a decision on funding cannot be expected before April 2002.)

3) USD 1.75 million over 3 years for stakeholder consultations and capacity building. Some seed money for these activities may be available from the MA. The balance of basic funding for these activities is included in the ISIS/LIA proposal mentioned under (2) above, but additional fundraising effort is anticipated.

4) USD 2 million over 3 years for additional local assessment and research activities at ASB sites. As with item (2) above, funding for some of these activities is included in the ISIS/LIA proposal but additional fundraising effort will be needed.

5) USD 5.6 million over 3 years for new assessment and research activities at national/continental scale. Funding of about USD 500,000 for these activities is included in Phase I and the anticipated Phase II of ASB's World Bank Netherlands Partnership Programme (BNPP) project on "Functional Values of Biodiversity", which ends in December 2002. However, most of the funds for the national/continental scale assessment will have to come from new sources.

Items 1, 2, and 3 above represent the threshold level of funding for ASB to contribute to the MA, totalling just over USD 2.3 million over 3 years.

Item 4 would greatly enhance ASB's crosscutting assessment at the local scale and contributions to the global assessment.

Item 5 would enable ASB to conduct a multilevel assessment, covering the local scale at ASB sites nested within national/continental scale assessments and contributing to the global assessment.

[Table of related activities: 'Conditions and Trends Component of ASB Crosscutting Assessment', 35KB]