africa

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).

 

 

 

NEW BOOK: Climate smart landscapes -Multifunctionality in practice

The World Agroforestry Centre is pleased to formally launch the book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

This book brings together a range of work around landscape approaches specifically looking at the pathways, methods and tools needed for achieving sustainable multifunctional landscapes within the context of climate change.  It draws strongly on field experiences and case studies from across the developing world to concretely demonstrate how the concept of taking a landscape approach can be applied both in policy and practice. It presents scientific evidence in a way that is accessible and applicable by mid-career practitioners and policymakers in a bid to bridge science, policy and practice. This includes a section specifically identifying opportunities for private sector involvement in landscape approaches.

The book was launched at the Global Landscape Forum held on the margins of the UNFCCC COP20.  Panelists at the launch said the following about the book:

“What I like about this book is that you do not get bogged down trying to define landscapes,” Dr Robert Nasi, Director for the Forests and Environment Programme at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and head of CGIAR consortium research programme, Forests, Trees and Agroforestry: Livelihoods, Landscapes and Governance.

“This book is a watershed moment for the landscape discourse. It balances analytical work on how to think about landscapes in a very sophisticated way,” Dr Sara Scherr, President and CEO, EcoAgriculture Partners

“The book is a great tool for policy makers, it has come at the right time when we have been tasked to develop a landscape approach in Uganda,” Tim Christophersen, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

“This book is practical, with case studies that clearly articulate the concept and implementation of the landscape approach. We will only achieve sustainable development if we work in an integrated manner,” Satya  Tripathi, Director, United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID)

Read and download the book

Related articles:

Book key messages

How to build a business case for climate smart landscape approach to the private sector

Why climate change researchers are so excited about landscapes

Landscape approach: bridging the climate agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals 

The landscape approach for meeting the climate challenge: Examples from Africa 

 

Landscape democracy to capture complexity

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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 

 

Study: Move Climate Efforts from Complementarity to Synergy

By Elizabeth Kahurani

In combating climate change, interventions have mainly been channeled through two approaches – mitigation and adaptation. Activities to mitigate climate change include actions that reduce greenhouse gases and preve­nt further emissions. Adaptation refers to activities geared towards helping vulnerable communities already affected by climate change cope and build resilience.Pioneers of Ngitili system in Tanzania discuss how it works. Synergy between adaptation and mitigation ensures various stakeholders and sectors are involved.

Despite having intertwined objectives, the two practices were initially framed and have largely been pursued separately, leading to a lack of effectiveness and efficiency in concerted climate change actions. 

Any attempts to link the two interventions have been through a complementary approach whereby if mitigation is the main intervention, a project ensures there are adaptation co-benefits alongside. But according to Dr Lalisa Duguma and his colleagues from the ASB Partnership at the World Agroforestry Centre, these attempts are only halfway through the journey to effectively address the problem.

In a just released journal article with the title, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Land Use Sector: From Complementarity to Synergy, published in Environmental Management, the scientists argue that it is not just enough for the two climate approaches to complement each other. To achieve efficiency and effectiveness, it is important to have synergy between the two interventions.

What is synergy?

The study describes two forms of synergy: i) Additive synergy where in our case, the outcome would be realized from the individual independent effects of the mitigation and adaptation interventions; and ii) Non-additive synergy that can further be achieved in three categories, but here we focus on the super additive category that would be achieved if the outcome from interactions between the two interventions is greater than that gained from having the interventions act independent of each other. In this case, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’

Synergy in mitigation and adaptation measures allows for use of resources that are related and complementary, particularly in the land use sector where the resource is limited in certain regions such as in the developing nations.“We recommend the super-additive synergy model in climate change as it increases efficiency, and it is cost effective. It takes advantage of the fact that resources involved in mitigation and adaptation measures are related and complementary, particularly in the land use sector where the resource is limited in certain regions like in the developing nations,” says Dr Duguma.

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He further explains that the model is a step forward from the co-benefit based complementary approach as it targets to address priority problems of a particular area through a system-wide overhaul lens.

Synergy gives critical attention to system integrity and functionality necessitating the involvement of various stakeholders and sectors in an effort to reduce the possible tradeoffs due to their varying activities. This is in contrast with the top-down approach of having mitigation and adaptation complement with one being a co-benefit of the other.

Agroforestry and climate smart agriculture are among given examples of avenues to pursue synergy in agricultural landscapes, while those with a complementary approach would be in instances where a forest is established/conserved to sequester carbon or reduce emissions due to deforestation, but with other benefits of regulating climate and or being a habitat for wildlife.

Achieving mitigation-adaptation synergy

Dr Peter Minang’, a co-author in the study notes that the study developed four elements needed to move from complementarity to synergy.

First, there is need to identify practices such as agroforestry that have strong interconnectedness of adaptation and mitigation; then move to understanding the processes needed to activate synergy such as having the right institutions and funding mechanisms in place, as well as involving various stakeholders.

Another measure involves addressing tradeoffs between mitigation and adaptation. This is best illustrated in a case where tree species used in reforestation consume a lot of water, limiting availability of the commodity to the surrounding communities.

Lastly, national and local policies that provide a framework to actualize these measures and give necessary incentives for private sector and community involvement are proposed as the basis for actualizing synergy in a holistic, system-wide approach.

In Tanzania, the Ngitili system, a national intervention to deal with desertification through tree regeneration and conservation is one example where climate change has been addressed through a multifunctional approach without looking at the intervening efforts as either being mitigation or adaptation. The system has also had significant economic benefits to the local communities. Read more here.

“We can realize synergy in adaptation and mitigation at a global scale, however certain challenges have to be addressed,” says Dr Meine van Noordwijk, who is also a co-author in the study. These challenges include the current international framing of mitigation and adaptation as separate interventions, the view that mitigation is the best way to achieve adaptation, the lack of proper methodologies for analyzing the synergy approach, and uncertainties on which practices can be optimized to give maximum synergy benefits.  He is quick to add though that these are challenges to be addressed through continuous dialogue at global, national and subnational policy levels and increased research studies on the subject.

Read the article on open access:

Duguma, L. A., Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M. 2014. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Land Use Sector: From Complementarity to Synergy. Environmental Management. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-014-0331-x

Read more on a framework of conditions necessary for synergy

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

 

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

Conservation and Development: What would trees, butterflies and spices have in common?

In East Usambaras Tanzania, domestication of the Allanblackia tree species, the Cardamom spice and butterflies is delivering on biodiversity conservation while at the same time sustaining livelihoods.

A study looking at their economic value over a period of five years found that the Cardamom spice generated 850USD per year for 10,600 households; the Allanblackia 20USD per year for 5000 households and the butterflies 200USD per year for 350 households.

The Cardamom attracts high economic value but with similar measure of environmental stigma because initially it prompted deforestation. However, there is now a law that prohibits clearing of forests to grow the product. In addition, farmers have realized that forests are essential for maintaining necessary climate conditions to grow the spice and so most retain or plant 75-100 trees per ha in a cardamom farm.  Allanblackia is said to be among agroforest tree species that provide local medicines, fruits, vegetables, poles, fuelwood and timber, resources that relieves pressure from forests and thus avoid deforestation and degradation. Butterfly farming has had positive effect on conservation as farmers in East Usambaras associate increased production with forests and as such have planted more than 30 native trees as part of the plantation used for food and egg-laying in butterfly rearing.

According to Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) who is among study authors, it is often claimed that domestication of forest resources can contribute to effective conservation of natural forests in the landscape as a win-win outcome. But the counterpoint is also made that economically attractive options in the forest margins will lead to further forest conversion if they work out well for local livelihoods, and maintain the trend to further pressure on the forest if they fail, so there is no win.

“When a group of us visited the East Usambaras site where the Landscape Mosaics project had been active, we realized that there is an interesting ABC of domestication being tested here,” says Meine, “We decided to compile data on the actual performance of these three commodities as part of the landscape level income and its dynamics.”

“Domestication implies a move from collecting resources from forests to taking care of the full life cycle of the products. We found that the three commodities at different stages of the process offer lessons on efficiency, sustainability of the ecosystem and sustain agility of their use over time,” says Mathew Mpanda of ICRAF Tanzania and lead author of the study.

The study, which is titled Allanblackia, butterflies and Cardamom: sustaining livelihoods alongside biodiversity conservation on the forest-agroforestry interface in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania compares these three commodities at different stages of domestication and shows that the biological aspects need to be embedded in the broader socio-ecological system understanding of what goes on in the landscape, if development and conservation goals are to be reached.

Download and Read more from the study

 

How Agroforestry can contribute to carbon emission reduction efforts

Agroforestry, which is the practice of integrating trees on farms and landscapes, can contribute to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) directly or indirectly. Directly as part of REDD+ if a country uses the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) forest definition of canopy cover of between 10-30%, minimum height of 2-5 metres in a minimum land area of 0.05-1hectares; and indirectly as a complement to REDD strategies.

Using various examples mainly from Africa, a new study, Prospects for agroforestry in REDD+ landscapes in Africa published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, explores ways agroforestry can have an impact on emission reduction efforts through REDD+.

“Cocoa agroforestry in Cameroon could for instance qualify as forest and directly contribute to REDD+ if the country adopted the UNFCCC definition,” explains Peter Minang’, the study lead author.  “In such a case, sustainable management of agro- ‘forests’, enhancement of carbon stocks within these forests, avoiding degradation, that can result through use of tree systems with less carbon, can become eligible actions within REDD+,” he says.A cocoa agroforestry system in Cameroon (© Mireille Feudjio)

However, if agroforestry does not meet the UNFCCC definition of forest in some countries, it can indirectly contribute to REDD+ strategies in several ways.

i)              Avoid deforestation through sustainable intensification and diversification. By improving soil fertility and boosting productivity through nitrogen fixing trees, farmers can maximize yields in available farm areas without the pressure to deforest to access more farm land. The study cites the example of Guinean forest of West and Central Africa where it was found that if cacao intensification had been adopted in the 1960s, an area of 21,000km2 of forests would have been spared, with potential to reduce nearly 1.4billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere.

ii)            Avoid forest degradation – On farm trees can relieve forests off the pressure arising from demand for fuel-wood, charcoal, and timber, some major causes of forest degradation. Moreover, practicing agroforestry can stall leakage which happens when people do not have access to protected zones and as such over-exploit unprotected areas. In Tanzania, a study found that rotational woodlot systems over a five year period was sufficient to meet household fuel wood needs; and that acacia fallows would take less than half the time to recover carbon lost compared to replanting miombo woodlands.

In addition to these carbon benefits, agroforestry has the potential to deliver on sustainable development gains. But this potential can only be realized if certain economic, policy and research challenges to do with limited knowledge on suitable/appropriate tree species, shade management, tenure issues and access to markets are addressed.

Download paper here

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.

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.

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