REALU

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)

 

 

Focusing on Multifunctionality – achieving success through a landscape approach

By Olivia Freeman

The success to a landscape approach results from its ability to perform various functions and meet multiple objectives by exploring opportunities to link and create synergy between different actors. For a climate-smart landscape, this involves addressing climate change alongside other environmental or social objectives.

Promoting sustainable landscape transformations in multifunctional landscapes requires an integrated approach. Landscape at the foothills of Mt. Elgon National Park in southeast Uganda. Photo credit: Connor J. CavanaghTo achieve this integration, it is important that objectives are clearly defined and potential synergies appropriately identified within the context of the specific landscape. Distinguishing between primary and secondary objectives is part of this process. Primary objectives drive the project priorities. Interventions within the landscape therefore seek to promote multiple primary objectives. In comparison, secondary objectives can be seen as co-benefits (when having a positive effect) or externalities.

In practice, often both primary and secondary objectives are lumped all together. This can result in primary objectives not always being effectively addressed and instead just assumed they are being achieved. An example of this is the performance of improved cookstoves. While they can create climate, health and other livelihood benefits, different kinds of stoves can have varying levels of performance for each type of benefit. Therefore the type of stove chosen should be dependent upon the primary objectives of the project, but this is not always the case. Similarly some agricultural practices will have varying benefits depending on where they are applied. For example, sustainable agricultural intensification may have both climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits in some places and adaptation and livelihood benefits in others.

Therefore, synergies sought in integrated landscape approaches need to be specifically focused around the primary objectives driving the approach. To achieve these synergies sometimes compromises need to be made, as it is not always possible to achieve optimal conditions for all objectives.

Landscapes are dynamic systems that are usually in some state of flux. Promoting sustainable landscape transitions will therefore require an iterative, adaptive approach. To effectively achieve multifunctionality there first needs to be a strong incentive to take a landscape approach. This can be driven from the local level based upon the need to reduce land degradation or from the national or global level based upon the desire to address climate change.

Overall landscape approaches are well positioned to promote what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call ‘climate-resilient pathways’: “…development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to realize the goal of sustainable development…for managing change within complex systems.” The success of landscape approaches will be largely dependent on their ability to effectively achieve multifunctional outcomes.

Source: This blog is based on chapter 3: Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Freeman, O. E. (2015). Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 37-49. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

The link between production standards, the private sector and a landscape approach

By Gabrielle Kissinger, Lexeme Consulting

Production standards and certification such as FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance coffee, Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber, and others provide a means for manufacturers and consumers to have confidence in how raw materials are produced.

Brewery operated by SABMiller’s Colombian subsidiary, Bavaria, in the Chingaza watershed outside Bogotá. Photo: Rudolf, BogotáYet, production standards alone are insufficient tools to address all production risks, such as biodiversity loss, water scarcity, climate change impacts, labour issues, and community and livelihood needs in surrounding areas, among others.  Companies confronting these risks recognize the impacts on business performance, and are increasingly piloting interventions beyond the ‘production unit,’ through landscape initiatives. Often, this is in conjunction with production standards and certification processes.

In Brazil, a group of smallholders united under the Cooperative Central Association of Family Farmers (COOPAFI), who make their living in mixed farming systems, but are reliant on soy as their main cash crop, obtained certification through the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in 2013.  This enabled the farmers to attract international buyers such as Unilever and the Body Shop, while at the same time maintaining the native vegetation and biodiversity in regions surrounding their farms. 

To ensure that the soy certification standards were met, relevant partners including the Municipality of Capanema in Paraná, worked with the farmers to ensure continuous land management improvement that met existing Brazilian federal laws and the RTRS standard, zero-tillage systems and reduced agrochemical use, restriction on expansion of soy farms into native forests, and linking the soy to frontrunner companies seeking certified products.  

This is one example of seven in the chapter, “Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification,” in the book Climate-smart landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice.  In his foreward to the book, Jeffrey Sayer of James Cook University notes, “The landscape approach considers how interconnected components of the landscape can be managed to reap multiple benefits and balance commercial, social and environmental concerns.”

Private sector investment in and commercial motivation to pursue landscape approaches is not well documented.  Production standards and certification appear to be an important entry point for companies to think beyond their production unit, and consider risks beyond. 

Often, it is pressure from brand manufacturers and consumers that push producers to demonstrate that raw materials were produced sustainably and multiple benefits achieved.  One such example is the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) that seeks to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. It is comprised of more than 400 retail and brand manufacturers globally, with total combined sales of €2.5 trillion. Unilever aims for 50% of its agricultural raw materials to be sustainably sourced by 2015 and 100% sustainably sourced by 2020.  Similarly, Nestlé, Mars, Tesco, McDonald's, Walmart and other brand manufacturers and retailers have made sustainability purchasing commitments for agricultural products.  

The challenge with production standards is that while some contain criteria and indicators that require producers to go beyond the production unit to demonstrate sustainability, most provide little or no guidance to do so.  Rather, the decision falls on the producer to incorporate better management practices or create partnerships beyond their production unit in order to avert risks.

Nevertheless, the case examples reviewed in the new book chapter demonstrate a willingness by companies and their civil society or government partners to define project parameters that seek integrated landscape management.

While private sector engagement in integrated landscape initiatives appears to be increasing, more assessment of the long-term benefits beyond the production unit and concession-scale is needed and also to determine whether companies stick to the commitments and invest over the long-term. Similarly, there is a need for more evidence of effective coordination between government and private sector actors to support long-term commitment to landscape initiatives. 

More understanding is also needed of how certification bodies are incorporating a landscape lens into criteria and indicators for certification and measuring that performance over landscape spatial and temporal scales.  This is particularly important for fast-expanding commodities such as oil palm, sugarcane, and soy, all of which can place strong pressures on land and water resources. 

Source: This blog is based on Chapter 19: Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification of the new book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Kissinger, G., Moroge, M., & Noponen, M. (2015). Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification. In Minang, P.A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 277-293. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

 

About the author

Gabrielle has worked for 20 years at the interface between government policy, markets and land use pressures, from local to national and international scales, and with a range of comapnies, investors, major donors and NGOs. Consulting services and research focus on reducing GHG emissions from land-use in the agriculture and forestry sectors, policy and government affairs, innovative financing for sustainable land management and private sector engagement. Learn more

Climate-smart landscapes: Lessons from the gestion de terroirs approach

By Florence Bernard

Climate-smart landscapes are an emerging concept that captures integration of actions and processes in a Participatory community meeting, Niger. Photo credit:Mahamane Larwanougiven place. This integration is geared towards reducing emissions and enhancing ability to cope with already existing negative effects of climate change while at the same time pursuing multiple social, economic and environmental objectives.

In the past, integrated management initiatives have shared similar ambition and provide lessons for implementation.

In a chapter of a new book titled Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, we study the example of gestion de terroirs (GT), which was an integrated management approach applied in French speaking African countries in the 1990’s.

The GT approach was meant to advance goals related to food production, ecosystem conservation and rural livelihoods on a socially and geographically defined space – the so-called ‘terroir’. It shared a number of similar features with climate-smart landscapes in terms of being a multisectoral, multidisciplinary and multistakeholder approach.

A number of key limitations, challenges and experiences from the GT approach offer lessons for the climate-smart landscape approach.

One limitation of the GT approach was that the geographical area was identified almost exclusively in relation with the practice of agriculture, ignoring other important livelihoods such as pastoralism. A key lesson here is that it should not be assumed that community interests are uniform at the expense of complex social, economic and cultural factors that affect how local communities can sustainably use natural resources.

Both the GT and climate-smart landscapes approaches use a bottom-up management style and are community-driven, so multi-stakeholder planning is a key element. However, experiences with the GT implementation have at times not achieved proper balance in participation between the local communities, project staff and government agency representatives, with local communities being overlooked in technical debates. Another weakness was lack of balance of interests among stakeholders in the local community due as GT committees seemed to be dominated by local elites to the exclusion of the poorest and most marginalized rural populations. According to the study, in order to avoid such pitfalls, both composition and method of inclusion need to be considered with caution to ensure effective representation of all stakeholder groups.

Additionally, effective decentralized governance over land resources is described as a central feature of the GT approach. However, since the legislation never conferred legal right to community-based institutions to exercise public authority over their resources, there has been a huge gap between theory and the reality. As such, if decentralized governance is to happen within climate-smart landscape approaches, there will first need to be clear policies outlining who has the authority to make decisions on resources as well as more reflection on how to transfer authority from central government authorities to local government staff, and from government structures to local populations.

Another issue that GT implementation shed light on, was that attempts for clarifying rights and resource tenure have sometimes exacerbated existing or latent land-use conflicts, the concept of ‘terroir’ being sometimes misinterpreted as ‘for locals only’ and instrumentalized to exclude others in the name of local heritage. To avoid this challenge, there is need for very carefully negotiated processes and a legitimate conflict resolution and recourse system that is supported by an improved justice system, accessible courts, and devolved conciliation powers to local authorities or customary chiefs.

Last but not least, while most GT programmes took place in a policy and institutional vacuum resulting in very limited impact on influencing wider institutional and policy issues, there is need for acknowledging climate-smart landscape approaches within national decision-making processes. Sustainability of the climate-smart landscape approach will require supportive policies at multiple scales.

The study is a book chapter in a book titled Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice which can be accessed here.

Bernard, F. (2015). What can climate-smart agricultural landscapes learn from the gestion de terroirs approach? In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 51-61. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

 

 

 

Framework to identify mitigation-adaptation synergy potential

Study develops an analytical framework of enabling conditions necessary for synergies between mitigation and adaptation

By Elizabeth Kahurani

The new IPCC report calls for “sustainable-development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to reduce climate change and its impacts."

Indeed, it is becoming more apparent that linking mitigation and adaptation is a more effective and efficient approach to climate change. Discussions at UN climate talks are heavy on the benefits of synergy; and climate finance mechanisms are increasingly looking for projects with linkages to both.

A field extension officer (middle) explains cacao agroforestry farming methods in Cameroon. Findings of a new study show that in developing countries, institutional setup is an area with strong potential for synergy between mitigation and adaptationGiven that initial framing has had the two elements working in parallel, there is need to identify where there exists strong potential to actualize harmony needed to optimize strengths and benefits of mitigation and adaptation approaches.

In a journal paper titled “A systematic analysis of enabling conditions for synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries” published in Environmental Science and Policy, Dr Lalisa Duguma and  his colleagues from the ASB Partnership have developed an analytical framework within which they explore four conditions necessary for integrating mitigation and adaptation. These are: i) policies and strategies ii) institutional arrangement iii) Financing iv) Programs and projects.

“After a comprehensive review of publications on climate change integration, particularly those on mitigation and adaptation, it was clear that these four conditions are crucial for countries to move towards synergy,” says Dr Duguma.

The four conditions were examined using eight indicators (see table below) to score the synergy potential of 53 developing countries that were selected based on national communications submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Overall, the countries had strongest potential for synergy between mitigation and adaptation on institution setup, mainly because countries had committees to work on national level climate change strategies and also to participate and ensure compliance to mutual climate agreements and submissions to international conventions. Moreover, two thirds of the countries surveyed had programs dealing with both mitigation and adaptation.

The countries were found to be weak on the potential to finance both strategies simultaneously and to develop policies. “This weak link in potential could be because most of these countries are in the early stages of developing policies on climate change and normally funding/budget allocation is informed by already existing policies. Moreover, majority of these countries are almost entirely dependent on multilateral funding, most of which is given for mitigation activities,” explains Susan Wambugu, a co-author in the study.

A comparative assessment between the countries showed interesting variations, with middle-income countries having strong potential to synergy. “Other studies that we have done show that these fast growing economies exhibit strong potential for synergy as they want to boost their image to be seen as responsible global citizens; also to maintain credibility and attract more climate funding,” says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk who was part of the study. Strong potential was also identified with countries exposed to high climate change vulnerability such as the small island states. “Having been among the most affected by climate change already, these countries have no much option but to take on adaptation even as they implement mitigation approaches,” Dr vanNoordwijk explains.

Other least developed countries had a weak potential score for synergy. According to the authors, this is contrary to expectations given that they are also among high climate risk countries and they are strong proponents for adaptation in international policy debates. However, the study is quick to point out that limited large-scale programs within which they implement climate objectives could explain the tendency seen in these countries.

Further analysis of the synergy score against development and environmental indices such as GDP, Human Development Index, and Environmental Performance Index (EPI) confirm the findings of the study. “Among the countries studied, Indonesia and Jamaica are exceptional on this assessment. Indonesia for example has an independent body reporting directly to the office of the president. Such institutional measures with political will and commitment have largely contributed to a high EPI score for the country,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the study co-authors. “ A similar trend is seen among least developed countries, with countries like Malawi and Ghana emerging with strong synergy potential scores in an environment where the governments have made deliberate efforts to integrate development and climate strategies,” he says.

As climate change discussions focus on ways to generate meaningful impact from actions to deal with the challenge, this framework and evidence presented is among pioneer studies that governments and practitioners could benefit from in an endeavor to gain lost opportunities from the previous siloed approach to mitigation and adaptation and embrace far more beneficial avenues of a synergy approach.

“With the push for global climate communities towards synergies between mitigation and adaptation measures in order to effectively address climate change, it is important that the necessary enabling conditions be known and made to use. This paper is therefore the first attempt to come up with such key elements to promote synergies particularly from developing countries context” Says Dr. Duguma. 

 

Enabling conditions with their respective indicators used to determine countries’ synergy potentials 

Enabling conditions

Indicators used for each of the enabling conditions for synergy

Policies and Strategies

Does the country have a climate policy that addresses both M+A?

 

Is there a common climate strategy/action plan for both M+A?

 

Has the country submitted NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions)/REDD+

 

R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal) and/or NAPA to the UNFCCC?

Institutional arrangements

Is there a national-level committee addressing both M+A

 

Is there an implementing body (institution/agency/department/unit) addressing M+A together?

Financing (Funds)

Is there a climate fund for both M+A?

Programs and projects

Is there a joint program addressing M+A?

 

Are there subnational projects addressing both M+A

 

 

Available on open access

Duguma, L. A., Wambugu, S. W., Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M. (2014) A systematic analysis of enabling conditions for synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries.Environmental Science & Policy 42 (2014) 138-148.

 

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

 

Dragging a knowledge chain through the peat

Lack of understanding of peat is not the weakest link in the chain, say Meine van Noordwijk and colleagues

By Amy C. Cruz

The high emissions of greenhouse gases from tropical peatlands caused by changing their land use have become a problem for policymakers that they can no longer deny, as their own scientists have now confirmed what external critics told before.

Researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre Indonesia are assessing the viability of rubber agroforestry on peat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe emissions need to be reduced to mitigate the effects of climate change but because of the complex issues involved, governments, societies and private businesses are still ‘muddling along’ when it comes to conserving peatlands. The peat models we have so far are as clear as mud.

Given the urgency and political sensitivity, peat and peatlands have become an interesting test ground for understanding the chain that links knowledge with action. Who needs to know, who can act and where is knowledge the weakest link in the chain's limiting action?

Such a ‘knowledge value-chain for peatland conservation’ can trace steps from fundamental understanding of peatlands all the way to multilevel actions towards conservation and reduction of emissions.

‘We found that there are four separate parts of an overall knowledge value-chain concept that links fundamental understanding to action’, said Meine van Noordwijk,  leading a team of authors in a recent publication in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, ‘and there are several weak links that need to be strengthened in a complex chain. Coordinated research and action is needed to achieve positive policy actions and behaviour changes.”

The research team had looked at how people’s understanding, willingness, ability and actions towards peatland conservation have progressed over time. Understanding peat and its processes was the first section in the value chain, including the fundamental point of agreeing on the definitions of ‘peat’ and ‘peatland’ so that they can be correctly identified and assigned more attention, if necessary.

Towards this, different studies had been carried out to develop more accurate ways of quantifying and attributing emissions from peatlands and yet there was still room for improvement, especially because peatlands are variable by nature, making it hard to ensure accurate measurements. In addition, different land uses on peat also result in differences in emissions.

‘Hard science may seem easy compared to what it takes to get a globally agreed set of default values that can be used for transparent emissions’ accounting’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

The second section of the chain is the willingness to act to reduce emissions. For example, in the past, policymakers could not ignore the problem of smoke haze caused by peatland conversion because its effect on visibility was too obvious. Conversion without use of fire seemed an acceptable alternative. The invisible carbon emissions from the conversion and drainage itself could be ignored. However, when emission estimates, mostly from peat drainage and fires, identified Indonesia as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases there were hardly any Indonesian scientists who had experience and data to challenge or corroborate the claims.

‘Now that weak link has been strengthened, as is evident by the four papers by Indonesian scientists in the REDD-ALERT special issue. Indonesian policymakersnow acknowledge the importance of reducing emissions from peatland as part of the broader debate’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

But willingness to act is not enough. Third, relevant authorities need to be able to influence companies and people to actually reduce emissions. While peatland conversion appeared to be attractive to companies because it brought less conflict with local people and their land-right claims than conversion elsewhere, peatland use now gives oil-palm companies a bad name internationally and potentially affects their sales. Where the long process of issuing permits has already started, however, it is not easy for a local government to stop the conversion and reverse permits. Players at this level need to be aware of how emission reductions are calculated and valued. Local governments need to secure jobs and revenue, so alternative scenarios need to meet their expectations.

The fourth section of the chain is formed by farmers and their communities living in or near peatlands. Slowing current conversion and redirecting land-use changes without alternatives that provide improved livelihoods for local people is not attractive for any policymaker.

‘There are not yet sufficiently viable, alternative uses of peatlands that do not contribute to higher emissions but provide for local incomes and livelihoods’, said Dr van Noordwijk. ‘Thus, the primary focus for this section of the chain needs to be on testing and improving the various locally developed solutions, such as agroforestry involving locally adapted trees for which a market exists’.

Looking over the whole length of the knowledge chain, Dr van Noordwijk and colleagues conclude that progress has been made in the first three sections but peatland countries, such as Indonesia, and international supporters now have to focus on improving the fourth section. 

‘If good science, accurate numbers, a willingness and ability to act on emission estimates are not accompanied by viable alternatives for local livelihoods then the ultimate goal of reducing emissions cannot be achieved,’ conclude Dr van Noordwijk and the research team.

Read the article

Van Noordwijk M, Matthews R, Agus F, Farmer J, Verchot L, Hergoualc’h K, Persch S, Tata HL, Khasanah N, Widayati A, Dewi S. 2014. Mud, muddle and models in the knowledge value-chain to action on tropical peatland conservation. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

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

 

 

 

 

Womens decisions can lead to more greenhouse-gas emissions

Decisions by women can lead to more changes in land use because of their willingness to accept offers from outsiders. To avoid deforestation, the value of natural ecosystems needs to be instilled

By Tess Beyer

Indonesia is the world’s third largest producer of greenhouse gas, with 85% of its emissions coming from the destruction of natural forests, the main driver of which in the 21st century is industrial-scale, export-oriented agriculture, such as palm-oil producing monocultures.

Women’s land-use decisions might increase greenhouse-gas emissions. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Noviana KhususiyahThe conversion of forests to other land uses typically has dramatic effects not only on the landscape but on the lives of humans who interacted with the forest. Those effects can be different for men and women and could lead to more greenhouse-gas emissions if women make the decisions, according to a study by Grace Villamor and colleagues in the forest margins of the province of Jambi on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

‘Changing a landscape alters the roles of the humans who have previously related to it in perhaps traditional ways developed over generations’, said Dr Villamor, ‘including various rights of use, which can be different for men and women’.

To help contextualise the recent changes in Sumatran land use and cover, the role gender played was examined. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know what influence a person’s gender had on the willingness to adopt alternative land uses. They used role-play games with local residents to assess their responses to new land-use opportunities, some of which might increase, rather than decrease, the emission of greenhouse gases.

Divided into men-only and women-only groups, the games showed that rapid land-use change occurred when women responded positively to external investors and in doing so out-performed men in meeting income targets. Women managed to negotiate bids up to three times higher than the set price for changing land uses to more profitable ones, such as converting higher carbon-stocked old rubber agroforests to lower carbon-stocked oil-palm plantations. This occurred even more rapidly when faced with shocks or stressors, such as forest fires, population increases and fluctuations in commodity prices.

Further, women from upland areas perceived rubber agroforests as economically superior to natural forests because they provided both conservation and financial benefits. In their eyes (in the context of the game), changing forests to agroforests carried no perceived environmental or income risks.

On the other hand, in the game the men from upland areas left their forests intact. This conservation perspective was probably shaped by the value of timber they collected plus a strong sense of stewardship formed during their long association with various organisations, such as the World Agroforestry Centre.

In the game, the men often made use of a double subsidy from a non-governmental organization and a government agricultural agency to conserve their agroforests. They used the subsidies throughout the game to continuously add to their agroforestry allotment.

This conservation perspective held true for men from the lowlands as well, who had witnessed the reality of mining degrading the environment without providing long-term wealth. Because of this, most were reluctant at first to deal in the game with an agent representing a coal mine.

For Dr Villamor and colleagues, it was clear from the results of the game that the women’s chosen pathways of land-use changes would lead to substantial carbon losses and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Extrapolating from this, if women were to have greater involvement in landscape-level decision-making then activities might be necessary that built awareness of the value of ecosystem services. Women’s established skills as entrepreneurs and traders of goods and services from forests and agroforests could also be developed in a positive direction that supported the conservation of treed landscapes.

According to the researchers, more explicit attention should be paid to the different responses offered by men and women of drivers of both deforestation and conservation.

Any government program that aims to modify land-use decisions needs to adopt a gender-balanced approach. Environmental protection cannot thrive unless women and men both see the net benefit.

 

Read the article

Villamor GB, Desrianti F, Akiefnawati R, Amaruzaman S, van Noordwijk M. 2013. Gender influences decisions to change land use practices in the tropical forest margins of Jambi, Indonesia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

 

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

Landscape approaches special issue write-shop at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre, Italy

The Rockefeller Foundation funded the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins from the World Agroforestry Centre to convene twenty three (23) participants for a write-shop on Landscape approaches to REDD+. The write shop was held on March 25-27 2014 at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre in Italy.

Participants from various disciplines were drawn from countries in the Amazon, Southeast Asia and the Congo Basin where the ASB Partnership has set up benchmark study sites to explore integrated approaches to environmental conservation that also sustain livelihoods. Participants at the write-shop in a peer review session.

Importance of a Landscape Approach

Climate change remains the single most challenge facing humanity to-date. Negative effects of global warming can already be felt and developing countries will be hardest hit.

REDD+ - Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation is an initiative under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreements that proposes to reward developing countries for keeping their forests. Since the agreement in 2010, commitments have not been implemented partly attributable to many challenges arising from the initiative’s narrow focus on forests.

For over a period of three years now, the ASB Partnership has been collecting data on the feasibility of a landscape approaches as a more effective pathway to climate change mitigation and adaptation that overcomes REDD+ implementation challenges.

At RIO +20 and recent UNFCCC discussions, the idea of a landscape approach has been forged as ‘the next best alternative to REDD+’. However, there is lack of scientific evidence on the definition and feasibility strategies for a landscape approach.

The purpose of the write-shop was to fill this gap by collecting together data from different countries across the tropics where pilot studies on a landscape approach have been conducted. Once published, these papers will contribute to the body of knowledge and evidence guiding scientific and policy debates/discussions on climate change.

The write-shop also had a built-in peer-review process and a special group of experienced reviewers working at the science-policy nexus who challenged the authors of the different papers to new, fresh levels of critical thinking in the development of their paper drafts. “I thought my paper was 90% before coming here, but after interaction with reviewers and my peers I think I am  only at 20%!” said one of the authors.

Landscape Approaches special issue writeshop at Rockefeller Bellagio Centre. The papers will be published in a special journal issue to guide climate policy on effective approaches to climate mitigation and adaptationAll the participants felt that the conference facility and environment was inspiring and had a special connection with the subject of the writeshop. “Here we are at one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, discussing ways to save the planet. Let us all resolve to make a difference because we can,” said Dr Ravi Prabhu, Deputy Director, research at the World Agroforestry Centre who was one of the reviewers.

At the end of the three-day write-shop, participants had developed seventeen (17) draft papers for submitting a proposal for a special issue to an appropriate high impact journal. The target is to have submitted full draft papers to the journal by November 2014.

The conference program was a great opportunity and contributed to the mission of the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre by bringing together teams from different parts of the continent to share ideas, become innovative and map out a pathway to answering questions concerning one of the single most challenge facing humanity today.  It also links with Rockefeller Foundation focus areas on climate resilience and food security.

Participants at the write shop came from eight (8) countries and represented six (6) organizations including the CGIAR institutions – The World Agroforestry Centre, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and International Center for Tropical Agriculture as well as Conservation International and the UN-REDD Programme.

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