deforestation

Evidence on adaptation-mitigation synergy at UN climate talks

By Elizabeth Kahurani

At the ongoing UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD), Ministry of Agriculture and The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) joined hands at an official side event to provide scientific evidence and guidance on the issue of synergy between adaptation and mitigation.

In defining the synergy concept, Dr Lalisa Duguma of ICRAF said that usually, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” thus reaching for optimal benefits derived from the two interventions in a way that neither would have achieved independently.

From a study that developed a framework for assessing potential areas for synergy, and applied in developing countries, Dr Duguma noted that most countries were moving towards synergy with a high score on institutional setup although much remains to be seen in terms of implementation for most countries. Read related article

Indonesia is among the exception. The country is implementing several strategies to link adaptation and mitigation in agriculture and peatlands. One of this is the Integrated Crop -Livestock Farming System (ICLS) that is being applied in a rainfed lowland rice  area  of Central Java. According to Dr. Wihardjaka of IAARD, the system significantly improves the productivity of rainfed lowland rice, provides higher  profits and increases resilience of agriculture to climate change. It at the same time reduces greenhouse gas emissions particularly carbon dioxide and methane.

Activities to implement ICLS include “use of direct seeding technique, recycling of organic wastes, crop planting calendar, pest management control, efficient use of fertilizer, water management and control, and high yielding rice variety with low methane emission,” says Dr Wihardjaka. It also involves utilizing natural resources such as biogas for household use, biocompost as fertilizer and  biopesticides that effectively use solar radiation.

“An integrated cropping calendar helps farmers to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns as it acts as a tool for rainfall forecast, provide recommendation for planting time, planting area, risk areas to flood, drought, pests and diseases,” says Mr Fadhlullah Ramadhani also from IAARD. “In fact, it helps to make decisions on fertilizer, seed and pesticide distribution as well as water requirements. We administered multi-channel delivery system including the use of facebook, android, SMS, and Google+” added Mr. Ramadhani. “With the multi-faceted climatic threats, cropping calendar is one among the many adaptation actions being developed and implemented in Indonesia. Other actions include development  of hardy high- yielding varieties, soil and water conservation and crop rotation” added Dr Fahmuddin Agus from IAARD.  

Another source of emissions in Indonesia is degraded peatland. It covers around   25% of the 15 Mha Indonesian peatland area and their high emission potential is exacerbated by the risk of fires. However, this land can profitably be converted for crop production without worsening the environment.

Dr Fahmudin Agus of IAARD and his team conducted a study on viability of agricultural production on peatland. “We found that when properly managed, crop production on peatland is comparable to that of mineral land, and it is quite profitable with an estimated net present value of USD 315 to 4421 per hectare per year,” he says. However, initial investment can be tall order for smallholder farmers. He therefore urges for policy measures that provide incentives to these farmers that could include, “secure and  (semi) permanent land tenure; subsidies for initial investment, especially for smallholder rubber plantation; infrastructure, including drainage canals and water table control system; high quality planting materials and fertilizers; and technical support. Rehabilitation of degraded peatland must be coupled with strict regulatory measures for conserving the remaining  peat forest”.

To objectively determine how such climate change actions as those in Indonesia can be scaled up and applied to different contexts, it is important to know the extent to which countries are ready to implement through policy frameworks provided by the UN processes such REDD.

Dr Peter Minang of ICRAF led a study that developed a framework for assessing REDD readiness in different countries and that can be used to objectively make cross-cutting comparisons. When applied to four countries –Peru, Cameroon, Indonesia and Vietnam, all the countries seem to have adopted most of the UN climate commitment REDD processes and made the required submissions. However, only Indonesia had backed this up with a national policy on REDD linked to the country’s economic strategy, although Vietnam also seem to be making progress with a benefit sharing framework in place. “Most countries scored poorly on benefit sharing; monitoring, reporting and verification; audit and financing,” says Dr Minang. Read related article

Peru is making progress with the launch of their national adaptation and mitigation plans (NAMAs) at the UNFCCC COP 20. Dr Valentina Robiglio of ICRAF was involved in providing technical support to the process. At the IAARD-ICRAF event, she described the NAMA process and how this can be locally adapted especially to cacao production. See presentation.

The Director General of ICRAF, Prof Tony Simons, was moderating the session and concluded by emphasizing the importance of having evidence feed into the official UNFCCC negotiations particularly to influence the formal inclusion of agriculture in these debates.

 

See presentations

Integrated crop-livestock farming system (ICLS) on rainfed lowland rice for sustainable agriculture

Synergies between Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: National Level Experiences

Improving   the profits   from peatland without exacerbating the environmental impacts

Integrated cropping calendar for adapting to erratic rainfall pattern

The role of migrants in land arrangements and deforestation

Internal migrants in Indonesia have shifted land arrangements, resulting in both social and ecological damage: land conflicts increase along with deforestation. This complex relationship has been underplayed in the REDD debate, say Gamma Galudra, Meine van Noordwijk, Putra Agung, Suyanto and Ujjwal Pradhan

By Masayu Vinanda

Conflicting claims over land ownership have occurred in most parts of Indonesia, according to Gamma Galudra and colleagues, writing in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. They describe one such conflict and its implications for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Senyerang village, Tanjung Jabung Barat district, Jambi province on the island of Sumatra.

Agroforest on peat in Tanjung Jabung Barat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe recent background to the conflict in Senyerang starts in 1997, when the Ministry of Forestry granted a permit for a pulp-and-paper company to expand its concession area. About 1500 people—long-settled migrants from other parts of Indonesia—protested over the rights to the land in question, resulting in one person shot dead and two wounded. The migrants argued that the area was their communal land that had been used by the Banjar people since the 1920s. A land licence granted by the pesirah (the chief of the territory), active since the Dutch colonial period, was used as their advocacy tool. However, the company did not stop the conversion and continued planting the area with acacia.

The Senyerang situation clearly demonstrated the tenurial interaction between a group of migrants and a concession-holding company. However, interaction between the migrants and the government institution that issued the permit to the company was also part of the problem. Historical, informal negotiations between the pesirah and the migrants dated back many years and provided a more comprehensive context.

In their study, Galudra and his team analysed relations between four key groups: the state, local communities, migrants and state-sanctioned concession holders in the peat forests of the district to reveal complex, ‘underlying land ownership, power struggles and strategic positioning among stakeholders across scales’.  Those three aspects are crucial to the effectiveness of any REDD scheme in the district, they argued.

Inhabited by approximately 280,000 people, nearly half of the population of the district are migrants from other parts of Indonesia. Practically, the district is divided into two parts: the inland villages on mineral soil inhabited by people from western and northern Sumatra; and the lowland peatland inhabited by Malay people from Riau. Peatland occupies 40% of the district and half of the land is state domain, with the largest area classified as ‘production forest’.

In the 1970s, the Ministry of Agriculture issued concessions to log the forests, leaving behind huge logged-over areas in many parts of the region. These areas were easily accessed, thanks to the roads built for timber extraction, which resulted in further land clearing, particularly for oil-palm and pulp-and-paper plantations. Fifteen years later, the Forest Allotment Consensus provided a stronger legal basis to issue more permits.

‘Both permit regimes marginalized migrants and local communities’, said Galudra. ‘Interaction began between migrants and local communities in the form of land sales. Local communities sold land—to which they might have had customary but not state-sanctioned rights—to groups of migrants who expanded the crop area. Those migrant-controlled areas would sometimes then be occupied by customary landowners who claimed that the land belonged to them. To resolve the conflict, the migrants had to undertake a second transaction, paying extra amounts to the customary landowners’.

Additionally, interaction between migrants and local communities resulted in changing how land was used. For instance, one migrant group, the Banjar, had much experience in clearing and draining peat forests, land which was then transferred to the pesirah (the chief of the territory).

‘The local people of the district lacked this knowledge’, said Galudra, ‘but the Banjar people were able to extend the village’s claims over territory in the peatland. The migrants did this to build a better relationship with the locals. The clearing was seen as an initial investment in easier access for all to use the land’.

Often, an even more complex situation appears when analyzing interactions between migrants and the private sector. Competing claims over land between migrants, local communities and private concessions arose owing to changing policies after decentralization took place, affecting the power relations between the central and local governments. For example, local people and migrants understood that the land they claimed was classified as ‘non-forest area’, a belief justified by such a designation in the District Spatial Plan of 1993. However, private companies believed the area was classified as ‘conversion production forest’ as shown in the records of the central government’s 1985 Forest Allotment Consensus. The conflicting land-use policies have seen an increase in concession permits and the status of forests changed to ‘conversion production forest’ to meet the demand for expansion by the palm-oil and pulp-and-paper industries.

Galudra and team argue that examining the complexities of tenurial interaction—particularly how migrants balance power with local communities, businesses and government authorities at the local level—will help ensure an effective implementation of REDD.

Clear and secure land and forest ownership is required if any progress is to be made. If forest or land tenure insecurity has been resolved, there is no doubt that the benefits or incentives generated from REDD initiatives can then be equally and fairly distributed.

Read the article

Galudra G, van Noordwijk M, Agung P, Suyanto, Pradhan U. 2014. Migrants, land markets and carbon emissions in Jambi, Indonesia: Land tenure change and the prospect of emission reduction. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

 This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

How much would REDD+ boost Philippines forest budget?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

REDD+ could provide a huge financial boost to forest conservation plans in developing countries like the Philippines. A new study titled, Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus (REDD+) in the Philippines: will it make a difference in financing forest development?  shows that if the country was to reduce the rate of forest degradation by 5 to 15% and at the same time increase reforestation rate by 1.5% annually, Philippines could approximately sequester up to 60million tonnes of carbon by 2030.

Agroforestry: Farmers produce more with less

Agustine Mbugua is reaping the benefits of conservation agriculture in his single acre piece of land in the Ngata Division of Nakuru County, 170km west of Nairobi. “Not only have I stopped using fertiliser on my farm because the manure from the crop cover provides enough nutrients to the crops, but the labour costs have gone down.

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