climate

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China Mountain Communities Adapt to Climate Change

The World Agroforestry Centre has released a new study, Coping with climate-induced water stresses through time and space in the mountains of Southwest China which documents innovative strategies to cope with long drought spells adopted by mountain communities in rural Yunnan, China.

Local strategies include “changing cropping varieties and cropping patterns, using water-saving technologies, improved irrigation methods and engaging in off-farm income generation. At the same time, communities now use collective action to cope with water stresses, including social organization and cooperation, village-level water-management rules, water storage and hiring irrigation managers.”

One of the lead scientists and Jianchu Xu says these efforts can be complemented through dual forest-management programmes, “one for recovery and restoration of natural forests, and one for incorporating trees into farmlands, both of which are based on robust research.”

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Meeting explores low emission development scenarios

By Glenn Hyman, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Pucallpa, Peru - Last week more than 25 professionals working on issues related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions met in the city of Pucallpa, Peru to discuss low emissions development scenarios. The workshop was organized by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Regional Government of Ucayali, with participation of other institutions working in sustainable development in the region. The initiative is an activity of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins.

Group discussion during training on methodologies to estimate the costs and benefits of development, Pucallpa, PeruThe workshop was a combination of discussions on regional planning and of training in methodologies to estimate the costs and benefits of development. During the workshop’s first day, participants discussed different development scenarios, including the effects of increases in deforestation and increases in the development of certain crops. Subsequent days were used to estimate the impact of different development scenarios. Toward that end, ICRAF scientists gave training in the ABACUS software. Sonya Dewi and Degi Harja, of ICRAF’s Southeast Asia headquarters, traveled all the way from Indonesia to give instructions and how to use the software tool, as well as explaining low emissions development planning methodology. ABACUS  estimates greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from land-use change and the opportunity costs of avoiding such changes.

On the last day of the workshop, workgroups presented the results of their simulations before a group of decision-makers in the region, including Franz Orlando Tang Jara, director of the Natural Resources Department of Ucayali and Miguel Vasquez, President of the Oil Palm Roundtable, among others. A news article by Peru national REDD Group had earlier indicated that the training would benefit officials from various government ministries.

The participants produced many interesting results and many questions to be answered with future research. Finding a balance between economic development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have its complications and difficulties. Some projections for growth of the oil Palm industry are going to imply substantial conversion of forests simply for the lack of other available lands. The development of new transportation infrastructure may have enormous impacts and requires much more research to understand the costs and benefits of these planned developments. The ASB  Partnership will publish a final report of the workshop at the end of May.

Read this article in Spanish here

Download: Landuse Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy

Adopt context specific solutions to deforestation, UN climate meeting told

By Josephine Njoroge, edited by Elizabeth Kahurani

Ahead of tomorrow`s Forest Day 6 discussion forum on drivers of deforestation hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Dr Peter Minang’, a Senior Scientist and Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership  said that causes of deforestation are unique to regions and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to ending the problem. “For instance, in Latin America, forests are lost due to establishment of cattle ranches while in Africa, smallholder farmers continue to engage in shifting cultivation. There is also a widespread trend to establish vast industrial plantations for oil palms in Asia and in other parts of the world,” Peter explained with caution that history is a poor predictor of future drivers of deforestation.

ASB congratulates Prof. Fahmuddin Agus on Research Professor award

Please join us to congratulate Prof. Fahmuddin Agus, a representative of the ASB Partnership Global Steering Group on his inauguration as a research professor in hydrology and soil conservation. The inauguration was held by The Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia and Indonesian Sciences Institute (LIPI) in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia on September 26th, 2012. 

Prof. Fahmuddin (left) being congratulated by familyDuring his inauguration, Prof. Fahmuddin talked about Soil and Carbon Conservation for Climate Change Mitigation to Support Sustainable Agricultural Development. He emphasized the importance of low carbon degraded lands for agricultural expansion and avoiding the use of forest and peatland for agricultural development. He also pointed out several mitigation options that potentially  contribute to economic development, agricultural and environmental  sustainability. These include rehabilitation of degraded lands for plantations, intensification of agriculture, especially among the smallholders and soil organic matter management. He added that appropriate selection of the options of mitigation-adaptation interface will contribute to Indonesia's national pledge of 26% emission reduction by 2020. 

Born in Bukittinggi, Sumatera,  Fahmuddin  earned his BS degree from Andalas University in Indonesia in 1983. His master and doctoral degrees in soil science were from North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, USA  in 1989 and 1993.  He is a senior soil scientist at Indonesian Soil Research Institute (ISRI). He coordinates ISRI’s climate change related research under the ASB Partnership consortium and under the national research programme. He is also actively engaged in sustainable natural resources management and climate  change mitigation fora, including the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and a lead author of the 2013 IPCC Supplement on Wetland Emissions.    

Study: Smallholder farmers in Africa adapting to climate change

Smallholder farmers across East Africa have started to embrace climate-resilient farming approaches and technologies, according to new research recently published by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

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