Developing financial data on sustainable land use for investors

By Florence Bernard

What often prevents public and/or private bodies to invest in sustainable land use practices is a lack of tangible information to decide between several options against comparable metrics, reliably inform expectations of risk and return, for informed investment decisions. Very little data, if any, is available on either the financial requirements or performance of various sustainable land use practices.

One of the key objectives for the ICRAF-led SECURED Landscapes (Sustaining

Farmer in Cameroon explaining latex tapping. ICRAF and TMP are working on a project to understand how public and private financial investors can be encouraged to provide capital for sustainable land use practices Ecosystem and Carbon benefits by Unlocking Reversal of Emissions Drivers in landscapes) project, is to understand how public and private financial investors can be encouraged to provide capital for sustainable land use practices. TMP Systems – a finance and technology consultant focusing on asset management, economic development and climate change – provided technical guidance on this area with assistance from ICRAF

TMP Systems has built financial models that help to determine whether certain sustainable agricultural practice projects being piloted by ICRAF are financially profitable, and how they compare with the practices currently in place. Using field data from the country projects, they found for instance that the suggested sustainable practice in Indonesia (replacing oil palm plantations with Jelutong latex tree) showed a profitable return which was more than coffee agroforestry system but less than oil palm system.

The sustainable practice suggested in Vietnam (intercropping of maize with Acacia Mangium and Melia Azeradach) did not show a profitable return, however it did significantly improve on the base case scenario (mono-cropping of maize, cassava and rice).

Another key finding from the TMP Systems study was that combining improved production practices with post-harvest value chain upgrades (such as in areas of storage, energy, transportation, training and collective aggregation, etc.) can provide optimal outcomes in terms both of sustainability and livelihoods. However much of the data that would usually be required to develop such financial model was not available so TMP Systems had to rely heavily on proxies for certain inputs. It follows that better data and more robust financial models are needed to provide accurate cost benefit analysis that meets the needs of investors.

Building on the analysis of existing routes to finance for sustainable land use practices, TMP Systems recommends that public and philanthropic money should be used to make sustainable land use practices investment ready. This means developing enabling conditions for production, access to market, and reporting. Then, in order to get to scale, aggregating smallholder loans and securitizing cash flows through intermediary organizations like ICRAF could be an attractive proposition to private financial investors.

To attract more public and private financial investors, there is need to make sustainable land use practices an understandable and attractive niche for investors, and to have more data that makes it easy to value  assets and returns. While need for robust, reliable and comparable data is crucial, the cost of sending people out to collect data is astronomical and even more for projects like ICRAF’s at smallholder level. At the same time the reporting must be standardized and location specific. To address this challenge, TMP Systems is currently developing a Field Monitoring System that can combine self-reporting and a high level of automation. This promises to be a major improvement on current methods in terms of cost, efficiency, data quality and reliability, and adaptability to different local contexts and investor requirements.

Sustained Policy Action needed to end Indonesia Haze

Indonesia fires are an annual event that occurs during the dry season. The fires are so intense, resulting in haze that affects neighboring countries -Singapore and Malaysia. Every fire outbreak is met with equal amount of gusto in political activities and discussions on how to counter the episode. But this energy seem to die off as soon as the rains start and the fire goes off.

The ASB Partnership research in Indonesia over the past twenty years points to the need for sustained urgent action beyond the fire episodes as a way to bring a permanent end to the fire and the haze. Policy action relating to land use decisions and rights are recommended.  These include:

  • Focus on the need to shift the costs to, and benefits from, those who use fire to clear forests
  • Serious law enforcement strategies that include public naming and shaming as well as prosecutions
  • Clarity on customary land rights 'adat' claims

Read full blog here

Download new Policy Brief: Stopping haze when it rains: lessons learnt in 20 years of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn research in Indonesia

Read Book: Partnership in the Tropical Forest Margins; a 20-Year Journey in search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn

Positioning institutions for forest governance in Cameroon

By Elizabeth Kahurani

For any country, developing an institutional framework on forest governance that incorporates and seamlessly coordinates activities between various sectors and stakeholders with varying interests and ideas can be quite a challenge. In most developing countries like Cameroon, this challenge seems to be compounded by other factors such as dependency on international actors and power concentration at the national level.

Meeting with community cocoa field farmers in Cameroon. Institutions need to empower communities for effective implementation of REDD+According to a new study looking at institutional dimensions of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Cameroon, ‘external organizations appear to play a dominant role in the implementation of REDD+ demonstration activities.’ In addition, international consultants and organizations seem to lead discussions in climate change forums, a situation that has resulted in “ambiguity of the REDD+ development process in Cameroon, particularly with regard to institutionalized patterns of action,” says Serge Ngendakumana, lead author of the study. He points out that this may not be unique to Cameroon but a challenge in other developing countries as well, and seems to be a scenario played out at the UN climate talks debate on the REDD+ process where developing countries viewpoints are not fully incorporated. “While collaboration with international bodies is key especially in developing capacity, national actors need to set up clear and transparent country-specific norms and rules to ensure sustainability,” says Serge.

The study was conducted through interviews and is framed around a REDD+ nested policy structure with four principles of -Institutions, Interests, Ideas, and Information. “Using this 4I’s framework, there is strong potential to build strong interplays for actors’ flexibility in current discourses,” explains Serge. The structure comes with recommendations for implementing social safeguards to avoid negative impacts on the local community.

With regard to power relations and participation, the study found that in comparison to other actors, responsibilities are vested on state agents to the extent that these institutions will be both the regulators and managers of forest carbon, raising concerns of effectiveness and transparency in the process.  “As this and other studies recommend, there is need for co-management in the process especially with the local communities,” recommends Dr Peter Minang, who is also an author in the study. In addition, the private sector including the agribusiness and logging companies need to be part of the process as they present both threats and opportunities. “Some of them can be funding sources for payment for ecosystem services initiatives,” says Dr Minang.

To promote an even distribution of power relations and inclusiveness, the study developed a governance framework that stands on key institutional sectors acting together with stakeholders at a landscape level to empower communities to implement REDD+ activities. Communities can be empowered through actions such as secure land and tree tenure, agroforestry and other climate smart agricultural techniques for increased production.

“The model we propose in this study if applied can build capacity for the local communities thus reducing their vulnerability, ensure fair compensation, and promote institutional coordination,” says Serge. Proposed governance framework for forest governance at landscape level

The REDD initiative presents an opportunity for Cameroon to benefit from efforts to keep the country’s forest standing. To realize benefits, forest governance structures need to be assessed and changes made to ensure a fair transparent, and coordinated process.

 Institutional Dimensions of the Developing REDD+ Process in Cameroon study is part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Ngendakumana, S. Minang, P.A. Feudjio, M. Speelman, S. Van Damme, P. Tchoundjeu, Z. 2014 Institutional dimensions of the developing REDD+ process in Cameroon Climate Policy 14 (6) 769-787

Is Cameroon REDD+ Ready? Stakeholders weigh in

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Cameroon is endowed with a dense tropical rainforest part of the Congo Basin. This natural resource is estimated to cover about 42% of the country’s total land area and bodes environmental, as well as socio-economic benefits for the country, particularly for indigenous forest-dependent communities.  But the forest is threatened by high rates of deforestation,  and degradation.

Field practicals during ASB Partnership training on Estimating Opportunity Costs for REDD+ in CameroonAction taken by the government to curb this trend include being part of the global mechanism REDD+ -(Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks).

REDD+ is meant to support voluntary efforts to mitigate climate change by developing countries and provides financial value on carbon sequestered through the initiative. To actively participate in REDD+, a country has to go through various levels of preparation in a process called REDD Readiness.

To determine how far Cameroon is in this process, a recent study employed a framework with a set of universal applicable criteria developed by scientists at the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. The criteria consists of six main functions, several sub-functions and indicators for successful implementation of REDD+. The six main functions are: Planning and Coordination; Policies, Laws and Institutions; Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and Audit; Benefit Sharing; Financing; Demonstration and Pilots. The framework has a standard application and countries can use this framework to evaluate their REDD+ performance against other participating countries.

Cameroon’s score on the functions and indicators provided by the framework was determined through interviews with key REDD+ stakeholders at various levels of government, civil society, development partners, academic, and media. An extensive literature review was also conducted.

Overall, the country seems to do well on planning and coordination, political will and commitment through action taken with regard to institutional aspects; and in demonstration and pilots projects.  Functions that got low ratings were on legal, benefit sharing, MRV and Audit, and financing.

The study proposes a number of recommendations for Cameroon to fast track their readiness process. These include the need to complete the country REDD+ Strategy in order to enhance coordination between government ministries, establishing the National Observatory on Climate Change as an independent body with budget and mandate to implement activities, strengthening enforcement of government legislation within the forest sector, and providing clear channels for conflict resolution and addressing rights issues.

“To draw in the private sector, the idea of a carbon concession in which forest blocks are allocated to companies that can manage and sell carbon and proceeds shared between the government and communities is advanced,” says Dr Dieudonne Alemagi, lead author of the Cameroon study.

“Challenges to do with MRV can be tackled through engagement with regional and international initiatives with developed tools and methodologies that can be modified for local application,” he adds.

Developing a devolved mechanism through existing structures such as the annual forestry fess, Land fees, REDD+ performance-based payments is further explained as a way to improve benefit sharing and financing for REDD+ in Cameroon.

Being a rich forest country, Cameroon could take advantage of ongoing initiatives and opportunities to strengthen its forest sector. This study contributes practical steps for the country in this journey.

Source: REDD+ readiness process in Cameroon: an analysis of multi-stakeholder perspectives? part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Alemagi, D. Minang, P. A. Feudjio, M. Duguma, L.A. 2014 REDD+ readiness process in Cameroon: an analysis of multi-stakeholder perspectives? Climate Policy 14 (6) 709-733

Realizing landscape restoration initiatives through Landcare

By Clinton Muller & Dennis Garrity

The global agenda is turning its attention to landscape restoration initiatives. 

Visions have been set, such as the objective of Land Degradation Neutrality championed through the UNCCD at Rio+20.

Targets have been defined, including the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.

The new challenge now is how will these landscape restoration initiatives be realized?

National governments have demonstrated tremendous leadership in enacting sound policy to support landscape restoration initiatives. Landcare Group in Nigeria distributing seedlings as part of a revegetation project Ethiopia for instance, has committed to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land, more than one-sixth of the country’s total land area.  Likewise, Guatemala is working towards restoring 1.2 million hectares of it’s 10.7 million hectare land mass.  Many NGO’s and other agencies have also embarked on programs and activities to support these objectives.

While invariably the intent of achieving these goals are well grounded, the processes in which to fully realize them now, and into the future, are still being defined.

Landcare can bring a lot to the table to contribute to the discussion.

Founded independently, yet simultaneously in Australia and Germany in the mid 1980’s, Landcare is an approach based on the notion of communities caring for their landscape.  The model, based on the values of community empowerment and collective action to develop and apply innovative solutions to natural resource management challenges, has often been identified as ‘bottom-up’ rather than the conventional ‘top-down’ program design. 

It is the focus on the bottom up mechanism that places community at the forefront of landscape management and decision making activities.  This is not to suggest community can achieve these outcomes in isolation.  Lessons from the Landcare approach in Australia, which has scaled to a national program with more than 4,000 community Landcare groups, demonstrates the importance of effective partnerships.  Strong partnerships exist between voluntary community Landcare groups in Australia with various government agencies, NGOs and the private sector, as well as research institutes. 

Together, the Landcare community of Australia has changed their rural and urban landscape in supporting the reversal of land degradation.  Through the collective efforts of community Landcare groups, the Australian landscape has been transformed, as witnessed by:

  • the planting of millions of trees, shrubs and grasses
  • riparian protection works
  • restored water quality through streambank stabilization and stock exclusion from waterways
  • improved ground cover, grazing methods and soil management
  • protection and regeneration of remnant native vegetation for habitat; and
  • stronger, adaptable and resilient rural communities

The success of Landcare is not just isolated to Australia.  Strong evidence exists in the more than 30 countries globally who have embraced Landcare.  Communities have reclaimed erosive hillsides in Claveria, Philippines for agricultural production.  Farmers in Kapchorwa, Uganda, have protected the forested area of Mt Elgon and rehabilitated erosive hillslopes through re-vegetation and the development of community by-laws to address free grazing.  Degraded and erosive grasslands in Iceland have been rehabilitated by farmers through the seeding of lyme grass.  These actions have all been undertaken through the Landcare approach.

Realization of initiatives to restore global landscapes will require a coordinated response.  Establishing global, regional and national targets whilst facilitating conducive policy environments is essential.  Equally so is the engagement of the community at the grassroots.  Landcare provides a mechanism to realize this. 

Ultimately the realization of the vision for Landscape restoration will rest with the community, not just in the present through the adoption of remediation works, but also the adoption of a Landcare ethic to sustain landscape management into the future.

Source: This blog is based on Chapter 11: Landcare - a landscape approach at scale of the New book: Climate-smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Catacutan, D., Muller, C., Johnson, M., & Garrity, D. (2015). Landcare – a landscape approach at scale. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 151-161. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)



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