sustainable development

Landscape democracy to capture complexity

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Contact – (Nairobi, Kenya) +254 717718387; p.stapleton@cgiar.org;

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 

 

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