Cameroon

How Agroforestry can contribute to carbon emission reduction efforts

Agroforestry, which is the practice of integrating trees on farms and landscapes, can contribute to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) directly or indirectly. Directly as part of REDD+ if a country uses the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) forest definition of canopy cover of between 10-30%, minimum height of 2-5 metres in a minimum land area of 0.05-1hectares; and indirectly as a complement to REDD strategies.

Using various examples mainly from Africa, a new study, Prospects for agroforestry in REDD+ landscapes in Africa published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, explores ways agroforestry can have an impact on emission reduction efforts through REDD+.

“Cocoa agroforestry in Cameroon could for instance qualify as forest and directly contribute to REDD+ if the country adopted the UNFCCC definition,” explains Peter Minang’, the study lead author.  “In such a case, sustainable management of agro- ‘forests’, enhancement of carbon stocks within these forests, avoiding degradation, that can result through use of tree systems with less carbon, can become eligible actions within REDD+,” he says.A cocoa agroforestry system in Cameroon (© Mireille Feudjio)

However, if agroforestry does not meet the UNFCCC definition of forest in some countries, it can indirectly contribute to REDD+ strategies in several ways.

i)              Avoid deforestation through sustainable intensification and diversification. By improving soil fertility and boosting productivity through nitrogen fixing trees, farmers can maximize yields in available farm areas without the pressure to deforest to access more farm land. The study cites the example of Guinean forest of West and Central Africa where it was found that if cacao intensification had been adopted in the 1960s, an area of 21,000km2 of forests would have been spared, with potential to reduce nearly 1.4billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere.

ii)            Avoid forest degradation – On farm trees can relieve forests off the pressure arising from demand for fuel-wood, charcoal, and timber, some major causes of forest degradation. Moreover, practicing agroforestry can stall leakage which happens when people do not have access to protected zones and as such over-exploit unprotected areas. In Tanzania, a study found that rotational woodlot systems over a five year period was sufficient to meet household fuel wood needs; and that acacia fallows would take less than half the time to recover carbon lost compared to replanting miombo woodlands.

In addition to these carbon benefits, agroforestry has the potential to deliver on sustainable development gains. But this potential can only be realized if certain economic, policy and research challenges to do with limited knowledge on suitable/appropriate tree species, shade management, tenure issues and access to markets are addressed.

Download paper here

The ASB Partnership turns 20!

In 2014, the ASB Partnership celebrates twenty years of high impact scientific research on options to combat deforestation while improving livelihoods in the tropical forest margins. It is a partnership that has consistently championed the issue of deforestation and has had far reaching effects and contributed to global debates and initiatives on environment, particularly on climate change. Over the years, ASB Partnership has worked with local communities, governments and scientists in finding compromise between livelihood needs, development and environmental conservation

More than 50 institutions through multidisciplinary and long-term co-location of research in benchmark sites across the humid tropics have published more than 1000 scientific publications, including articles, books and book chapters; as well as over 40 signature ASB policy briefs that have become popular with various audiences and especially policy and decision makers.

“The evolution of ASB can well be compared to the story of the phoenix bird that rises after earlier incarnations crashed and burned in the sense that the partnership has had to change and renew focus after challenging afresh old and existing theories,” says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre who was among pioneers of the ASB Partnership.

During phase I of the partnership, the hypothesis was to stop deforestation through agricultural intensification, maximizing on yields in available agricultural land in order to spare forests. With time however it was realized that this could actually lead to more deforestation as agriculture became more profitable. Phase II was an effort to explore whether intensification would work if integrated with appropriate policies, technology and institutional reforms through a win-win hypothesis. This approach encountered challenges on implementation particularly across scale from local to national government. This led to Phase III of incentives hypothesis where environment and development needs could be met with the right mix of incentives supported not just by the governments in developing countries but through global investments such as payments for ecosystem services.

The partnership is currently at Phase IV -sharing-sparing-caring hypothesis- where emphasis has been on a multifunctional landscape approach to emission reduction. Through the Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses project, ASB is among pioneer institutions to provide evidence on the need for a landscape approach to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), as it overcomes implementation challenges related to a narrow focus on forests. This has been picked up in various forums with negotiators at the last United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP 19) saying that a landscape approach is the next best alternative to REDD+. A global forum on landscapes was also held for the first time at the margins of COP 19.

“The success of the ASB Partnership lies in the diverse, dynamic, multidisciplinary team of scientists drawn from national and international research institutes, universities, community organizations, and farmer’s groups,” says Dr Peter Minang, ASB Partnership Global Coordinator.

The ASB approach provides the right mixes of disciplines to test various theories and working with communities informs their practicality and application on the ground.

“Going forward, ASB will continue to work on issues around the agriculture-forest interface,” says Dr Minang. “Shifting cultivation remains a huge challenge in the Congo Basin and more attention would thus be given to that part of the world. Overall, research will focus on promoting multi-functionality in landscapes along tropical forest margins in the context of green economic development.”

Over the next 20 years, ASB Partnership hopes to continue reporting positive impact on lives, livelihoods, forests and ecosystem services.

The ASB Partnership 20th anniversary celebrations in New Delhi

The ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins held its inaugural 20th Anniversary celebration in New Delhi, India on Thursday, February 13 2014 as a special event during the World Congress on Agroforestry.  

Key highlights of the celebrations included the release of a new book Partnership in the Tropical Forest Margins: a 20-year Journey in Search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn which consolidates the ASB twenty year journey as documented in the ASB policy brief series. A video with a narration of the ASB story within the framework of a twenty-year timeline was also screened. 

In his opening statement, Prof Tony SimonA panel of ASB Partners and scientists who have worked with the Partnership over the 20 year period give their reflectionss, the ASB Partnership Chair and Director General at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) noted that, “There is no other single partnership agency that has stayed the cause in working with all of those issues at the agriculture –forestry interface in the tropical forest margins.”

In attendance at the celebrations were ASB partners, some who have been working with the partnership since its inception in 1994 and were part of even earlier discussions leading to its formation. These included: Dr Dennis Garrity, Senior Board Fellow at ICRAF and former ASB Chair; Dr Tatiana Sá, former Executive Director, Embrapa and now a senior researcher with the same institution; Prof Fahmudin Angus of the Indonesian Soil Research Institute (ISRI); Dr Vu Tan Phuong, the ASB Partnership national facilitator in Vietnam; Dr Jofel Feliciano, ASB national facilitator in the Philippines, working with The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Dr Peter Minang, the current ASB Partnership Global Coordinator indulged them in a panel discussion on their work and reflections with the partnership over the years.

They acknowledged ASB’s impact over the years in shaping policies and debates both at national and international levels, training of farmers and government officials at local level and producing high impact scientific publications, manuals and other resources that have widely been used by decision makers. But they also mentioned some of the challenges and work areas within the Partnership’s mandate that still need to be tackled. “There still remains a need to explore options for sustainable agriculture among the poor farmers practicing shifting cultivation in the Congo basin,” said Dr Dennis Garrity. New Book: Partnership in the tropical forest margins: a 20-year Journey in Search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn released at the inaugural ASB 20th anniversary celebrations

The celebrations concluded with a virtual tour of the ASB benchmark sites in form of a poster session and an art gallery that illustrated various activities on shifting cultivation as practiced in Southeast Asia.

Twenty years of ASB Partnership

By Elizabeth Kahurani

At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, two recommendations made under agenda 21 to combat deforestation are of significance to the genesis of the ASB Partnership.

Here, the global community agreed to develop policies and gather efforts that would support actions to:

  1. “Limit and aim to halt destructive shifting cultivation by addressing the underlying social and ecological causes ”.
  2. “Reduce damage to forests by promoting sustainable management of areas adjacent to the forests”.

This international policy framework gave impetus to an ongoing process within the then Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) of initiating a system-wide programme on Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) agriculture, an idea forged at the 1990 CGIAR International Science Week.

The idea developed and process continued through 1991-1993 and involved workshop discussions on feasibility of a “global, coordinated effort on ASB agriculture in tropical rainforest areas.” This was followed by discussion papers on methodological guidelines on site characterization used to determine and identify appropriate locations for the ASB benchmark sites. Initial donor support for this groundwork was through UNDP.

ASB was formally endorsed as one of the first system-wide programmes of the CGIAR in March 1994 and Phase 1 of the alternative to slash and burn project commenced. The programme was governed by a Global Steering Group comprised of representatives from twelve (12) international research institutes mainly from the CGIAR. Beyond the governance group, ASB comprised of 40 other partners spread across the tropical humid belt. Phase I of the programme was implemented through four thematic groups with support from GEF.

The book Slash and Burn Agriculture: Search for Alternatives covers the first decade of ASB work and explains that the programmeThe ASB Global Coordination Office staff together with the Global Steering Group, the main policy and decision-making body whose primary role is to provide overall governance and guidance to the ASB Partnershipprovided “rigorous science, new conceptual and empirical tools, and thoughtful policy analysis” that contributed to “identifying more sustainable land use practices and enabling policies that help conserve environmental functions of the tropical forest margins while increasing household income and food security for millions of poor people.”

Among key successes in the early years of the program include a research framework that established the basis for integrated natural resource management research of the CGIAR centers, the ASB matrix and tradeoff analysis that was taken up in government programs as a way to tackle complex problems and reconcile the interests of different stakeholders (see ASB Policy Brief 05). In addition, the program spearheaded the Tropical Forest Margins sub-global assessment (SGA), the first crosscutting SGA in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA).

“ASB has also shown how the disciplinary strengths in climate change, biodiversity, agronomy, policy reform, and adoption can be used in a balanced and positive way, with combined, mutually accepted standard methods.”

To celebrate its achievements, ASB received the CGIAR Science Award for Outstanding Partnership for its contribution towards “developing more environment-friendly farming techniques and slowing deforestation.”

Alternatives to Slash and Burn evolves into ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins

Since 2008, the program has rebranded from Alternatives to Slash-and –Burn to ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins and is no longer a system wide program of the CGIAR.

It is a global partnership that includes non-CGIAR partners such as National Agricultural Research Institutes and International Research Institutes with work both in and outside the CGIAR system.  However, ASB still aligns its research to contribute to and partners strongly with CGIAR institutions.

The scope of work and research mandate has also widened from reducing the threat of slash-and-burn farming systems to the world’s humid tropical forests and exploring viable and profitable land use alternatives for smallholder farmers to reducing emissions from land use change, including forestry, agriculture, while ensuring viable livelihoods and enhancing social and environmental co-benefits.

About 1000 publications have been produced under the auspices of ASB to date. This includes 300 refereed journal articles, 25 books, 100 book chapters and more than 50 policy briefs. In 2005, the External Programme review panel for ASB found that ASB publications have been well cited by specialists and relevant policy documents globally (Clarke et al 2005). Table 1.1 highlights key ASB publications.

Tools, methodologies, guidelines and resources that have seen the most number of downloads from the website and have been used to train relevant stakeholders including national government officials to date include:

Stay tuned on our anniversary events here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How viable is a Landscape Approach: Lessons and Recommendations

To RSVP or for more information, please contact:

Paul Stapleton on Tel: +254 717 718 387 or  P.Stapleton@cgiar.org 

Elizabeth Kahurani on Tel: +254 721 537 627 or e.kahurani@cgiar.org   

For Immediate Release

How viable is a Landscape Approach: Lessons and Recommendations

Discussions on climate change are increasingly pointing to a landscape approach as the next best alternative or compliment to REDD+ whose takeoff has been hampered by challenges drawn mainly from the initiatives narrow focus on forests. However, there still remains need for clarity on definition and feasibility of the Landscape approach concept.

To provide evidence that adds to the body of knowledge to understand and implement the concept, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre has released a new report based on landscape approach pilot studies conducted in four continents across the tropics in Cameroon, Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam over a period of three years.

Understanding the Landscape Approach

According to the report, “Landscapes represent complex systems with sets of social, biophysical, human ecological and economic dimensions that interact with each other. Such interactions happen at multiple levels -the plot, farm, field levels and beyond. Integration enables understanding of such cross-scale interactions which determine numerous landscape-level patterns and changes. Understanding and building on interactions and feedback loops is thus important for success.”

The project further considered key operational concepts for landscape approaches that include heterogeneity, integration and interactions, multifunctionality, synergy and scale.

Landscape Approach: Lessons and recommendations on implementation

Lessons and recommendations below are drawn from an analysis of landscape approach feasibility studies in the four countries that in a participatory way looked at potential for emission reduction from all land uses including peatlands; financial & non-financial emission reduction incentives needed at landscape level; enabling conditions for effective landscape-based strategies; as well as methodology and tools for implementing and collaborating with the various stakeholders and institutions across scales.

“One important tool generated by the project that has been recommended for use by the Indonesia government for local governments to plan their actions to reduce GHG for entire provinces in Indonesia is the Land Use Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy (LUWES) which helps to explore land use options for supporting low carbon intensive development,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at ASB Partnership for the tropical Forest Margins.

Lessons

Recommendations

Incentives targeting non-forest high carbon stock land uses such as agroforestry, tree-based systems and peatlands were found to be attractive, potentially effective and efficient options for achieving REDD+, global climate change objectives and promoting sustainable livelihoods

Further linkage of REDD+ discussions in the international arena with the emerging Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) framing is needed to create rules and incentives for landscape approaches and investments.

Success in emissions reduction initiatives will need entry points beyond a sole emissions reduction focus given that carbon and its associated finance is unlikely to be a priority concern for local stakeholders

Emissions reduction planning and implementation needs to be integrated into the wider development aspirations of stakeholders if it is to succeed

Landscape approaches would benefit from greater effectiveness and efficiency when synergy is sought between emission reductions and other environmental, social and economic objectives including climate change adaptation and green economy approaches.

A co-investment approach is emerging as a necessary condition for achieving multiple landscape-level objectives

Key frameworks and models should be developed to enable better private sector involvement (financing and sharing of technical expertise) in emission reductions and sustainable development schemes at the landscape level. This could allow and involve innovative financial mechanisms for public and private investments. Such a mechanism could allow integration and optimization between currently separated mitigation and adaptation funding streams for example.

Landscape and jurisdictional approaches to emissions reduction can be complementary

Better research is required to understand and identify potential options for landscapes and jurisdictional interactions under different political economy contexts.

REDD+ readiness (and indeed future climate change readiness –NAMA, climate smart agriculture and others) needs to invest more in sub-national level REDD+ designs in order to enable landscape approaches for emissions reduction to thrive. Current readiness focuses more on international accountability structures and national levels, which does not automatically translate to a nested-systems architecture required to address drivers of deforestation at the landscape level.

Nesting landscapes to the national level is a necessary condition for success and scaling-up

 

Rules and guidance for nesting landscapes to the national level are needed. These could include specifying among others issues related to ownership rights to carbon, duties and royalties to be paid on investments, crediting, distribution of national emission targets, benefit sharing, risk management, MRV and baselines.

Identifying and understanding leverage points and potential levers of emissions beyond landscape boundaries is necessary to address drivers effectively.

 

The design and use of approaches that aim at identifying leverage points and levers for addressing drivers, as opposed to the current identification of land uses responsible for most conversions and a description of the processes, is needed.

 

The report is attached and can also be downloaded here: Towards a Landscape Approach for Reducing Emissions: A Substantive Report of the Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) Project

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