Cameroon

Complex political and economic realities of being REDD ready

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forests Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre have published a special  issue in Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6, that focuses on the Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+, guest edited by Dr Peter Minang and Dr Meine van Noordwijk.  All articles in this special issue are available for free as “open access” publications.

According to the special issue, the process of REDD+ readiness is shaped by a host of complex political and economic factors largely influenced by the national environment, history and circumstances specific to each country.

“The game changes at country level, and the process has to account for complex political and economic realities involving multiple actors, institutions, political and sectoral ideologies that require an iterative, rather than a simple linear, global process,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the special issue editors.

Read entire blog from Climate Strategies and climate policy journal blog.

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.

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