environment

Landscape democracy to capture complexity

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www.worldagroforestry.org ; www.asb.cgiar.org 

Managing landscapes effectively in the face of climate change means untangling a host of complications

Today, scientists are looking at the world in terms of landscapes, which are units of the environment with some common theme. It is no good studying a lake unless the forest above it that supplies water is considered, along with the people that fish in the lake and use its water for agriculture. Landscapes can be small, like a valley, or enormous, like the Serengeti plains. But even the simplest landscape can have many different populations, uses and values, all of which might be competing with each other.

How can all these needs be satisfied, while conserving the landscape for the future? A book entitled ‘Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice’ which will be launched by the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, on the fringes of the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, Peru on 7 December, goes some way towards answering the question.

To feed a projected population of more than 9 billion by 2050, food production must grow by more than 50 percent. Growing competition over fixed land resources means that economically attractive land uses triumph over those that are more valuable from a society perspective, but less profitable for a private land user.

Landscapes in the tropics and subtropics are at the heart of this competition for land, partly because they have the highest population growth as well as increases in agricultural land. As a result, planning of land use can no longer be the business of single interests, but needs to involve all interested parties. Hence, the increasing requirement for an approach to the landscape that will satisfy everyone’s needs yet maintain the different functions going on in the landscape while conserving it for the future, that is, making it sustainable.

This is already a complicated challenge. Traditionally, scientists would address a complex problem by breaking it down into its component parts and addressing them one at a time. This does not work in a landscape, which typically has any number of stakeholders with different perspectives, interests, power and ambitions, which can often be conflicting. “Multifunctionality’ in a landscape is about seeking to achieve many different objectives at the same time,” said Peter Minang, one of the editors of the book and Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. “Planning land use can no longer be the business of single interests, but needs to involve all interested parties. Hence the increasing requirement for a landscape approach.”

Complicating this situation even further is the problem of climate change. Agriculture produces a lot of ‘greenhouse’ gases that speed up climate change. There is a worldwide movement now to create ‘climate-smart’ agriculture, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gases produced yet still allows farmers to grow food and make a profit, while preparing for the effects that climate change might have on them, like rising temperatures that increase diseases in their crops.

“Sustainable multifunctional landscapes is a common destination that can be reached from many possible starting points,” said Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre. Once the wider range of options and perspectives are understood, it is possible to influence the various tradeoffs between functions and stakeholders in different and potentially better ways.”

“In the tea-growing landscape of Kericho in Kenya, governmental bodies, farmer and community organizations, and private sector tea producers, have come together to define key investments for a climate-smart landscape,” said Jeffrey C. Milder, the Rainforest Alliance’s lead scientist and chief advisor for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. “This process identified landscape planning and coordination as among the most strategic opportunities, requiring modest investment while aligning existing activities across the landscape to improve tea productivity, watershed health, and biodiversity.”

“Despite evolving institutions governing land and trees in Cameroon, disputes over land and forest rights have grown rather than diminished, leading to changing land use patterns and in some cases increasing land degradation,” said Divine Foundjem-Tita, a marketing scientist based at the World Agroforestry Centre’s Yaounde office. “The main message in this case study is that formal, informal or hybrid institutions are indispensable features in landscapes, and are crucial to landscape management, as they shape the patterns and functions of landscapes.”

“For current landscapes to move towards their full potential, all the interested parties have to agree on a vision for change,” summed up Peter Minang. “This democratic approach will allow climate-smart landscapes to contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.”

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The book, Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multi-functionality in Practice will be launched on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima, Peru during the Global Landscapes Forum on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 12.15pm, MEDIA ROOM

 

About the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) 

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a leading, international science-based research and development institution in the tropics, and a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).  For 30 years, the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners have worked with poor rural farmers throughout the tropics to develop innovative agroforestry-based practices that help them manage their limited resources.  The Centre’s vision is the transformation of lives and landscapes across the developing world through massive use of trees and agroforestry innovations. Its mission is to generate science-based knowledge about the diverse role trees play in agricultural landscapes and use its research to advance policies and practices to benefit the poor and the environment. For more information, go to www.worldagroforestry.org/ or follow ICRAF on Twitter @ICRAF 

 

Discussions with decision makers on Climate Smart Agriculture in Kenya

The ASB Partnership recently held roundtable discussions with decision makers in Kenya to understand how Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices are designed and implemented in the country and the role of science in informing the process. About 25 stakeholders from various agricultural sectors (government, research, development partners, private sector and farmers) participated.

At the meeting, Joanes Atela, a PhD fellow with the ASB Partnership presented preliminary findings from a study on climate smart agricultural practices in Kenya. He noted that CSA practices are implicit within the Kenya’s agricultural plans and are largely designed around general practices of sustainable agriculture. “However, new innovative scientific evidence lacks in the design of CSA practices that the country aims to convey to farmers. For instance, while the policies highlight agroforestry as a key CSA, there is little evidence differentiating the various agroforestry systems into their economic and social implications for smallholder farmers who are largely expected to implement them,” he said.

Lack of this evidence makes the CSA policies appear to be contradictory to the state’s interests in mechanized and commercial agriculture that is thought to provide quick fix for food security and economic development. “CSA practices within Kenya’s policies are therefore designed with a perception that they represent ‘conservation agriculture’ with little economic value,” said Atela, “this misconception results in poor state support of CSA with major agricultural subsidies heavily directed towards established cash crops to the exclusion of smallholder farmers who produce food crops.”

He further explained that farmers experience indicates possibilities of addressing climate change impacts on agriculture through CSA. But lack of innovative details on the value of CSA to farmers makes its realization complex and subject to socio- economic, political and cultural conditions.

Discussion on the findings centred on whether Kenya’s agricultural policies should support CSA more as a form of adaptation thanParticipants engage in group discussions on climate smart agriculture in Kenya. There is need for innovative farmer-friendly CSA designs in the Kenyamitigation given the increasing vulnerability of farmers’ agricultural systems. Arguments were made on trade-offs between conservation and development, which should be considered in designing CSA. A case study of Shinyanga landscape in Tanzania, presented by Dr Lalisa Duguma, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the ASB Partnership showed that CSA practices can achieve triple wins if their designs recognize trade-offs between adaptation, mitigation and development and at the same time, considers farmers’ aspirations.

Government officials attending the meeting found the discussions informative and requested for additional presentations and discussions to inform the work of recently established climate change units in the agriculture and other state departments. Development partners such as GIZ emphasised the role of science in informing the formulation and implementation of CSA policies. Among other things, participants recommended additional methodological steps, particularly on spatial expansion of the sampling frame to give more representative farmer experience.

This engagement process was funded by Future Agricultures Consortium (www.futureagricultures.org). Future Agricultures Consortium is a multidisciplinary and independent learning alliance of academic researchers and practitioners involved in African agriculture and aims to encourage dialogue and the sharing of good practice by policy makers and opinion formers in Africa on the role of agriculture in broad based growth

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:

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