africa

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.

The ASB Partnership 20th anniversary celebrations in New Delhi

The ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins held its inaugural 20th Anniversary celebration in New Delhi, India on Thursday, February 13 2014 as a special event during the World Congress on Agroforestry.  

Key highlights of the celebrations included the release of a new book Partnership in the Tropical Forest Margins: a 20-year Journey in Search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn which consolidates the ASB twenty year journey as documented in the ASB policy brief series. A video with a narration of the ASB story within the framework of a twenty-year timeline was also screened. 

In his opening statement, Prof Tony SimonA panel of ASB Partners and scientists who have worked with the Partnership over the 20 year period give their reflectionss, the ASB Partnership Chair and Director General at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) noted that, “There is no other single partnership agency that has stayed the cause in working with all of those issues at the agriculture –forestry interface in the tropical forest margins.”

In attendance at the celebrations were ASB partners, some who have been working with the partnership since its inception in 1994 and were part of even earlier discussions leading to its formation. These included: Dr Dennis Garrity, Senior Board Fellow at ICRAF and former ASB Chair; Dr Tatiana Sá, former Executive Director, Embrapa and now a senior researcher with the same institution; Prof Fahmudin Angus of the Indonesian Soil Research Institute (ISRI); Dr Vu Tan Phuong, the ASB Partnership national facilitator in Vietnam; Dr Jofel Feliciano, ASB national facilitator in the Philippines, working with The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Dr Peter Minang, the current ASB Partnership Global Coordinator indulged them in a panel discussion on their work and reflections with the partnership over the years.

They acknowledged ASB’s impact over the years in shaping policies and debates both at national and international levels, training of farmers and government officials at local level and producing high impact scientific publications, manuals and other resources that have widely been used by decision makers. But they also mentioned some of the challenges and work areas within the Partnership’s mandate that still need to be tackled. “There still remains a need to explore options for sustainable agriculture among the poor farmers practicing shifting cultivation in the Congo basin,” said Dr Dennis Garrity. New Book: Partnership in the tropical forest margins: a 20-year Journey in Search of Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn released at the inaugural ASB 20th anniversary celebrations

The celebrations concluded with a virtual tour of the ASB benchmark sites in form of a poster session and an art gallery that illustrated various activities on shifting cultivation as practiced in Southeast Asia.

Twenty years of ASB Partnership

By Elizabeth Kahurani

At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, two recommendations made under agenda 21 to combat deforestation are of significance to the genesis of the ASB Partnership.

Here, the global community agreed to develop policies and gather efforts that would support actions to:

  1. “Limit and aim to halt destructive shifting cultivation by addressing the underlying social and ecological causes ”.
  2. “Reduce damage to forests by promoting sustainable management of areas adjacent to the forests”.

This international policy framework gave impetus to an ongoing process within the then Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) of initiating a system-wide programme on Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) agriculture, an idea forged at the 1990 CGIAR International Science Week.

The idea developed and process continued through 1991-1993 and involved workshop discussions on feasibility of a “global, coordinated effort on ASB agriculture in tropical rainforest areas.” This was followed by discussion papers on methodological guidelines on site characterization used to determine and identify appropriate locations for the ASB benchmark sites. Initial donor support for this groundwork was through UNDP.

ASB was formally endorsed as one of the first system-wide programmes of the CGIAR in March 1994 and Phase 1 of the alternative to slash and burn project commenced. The programme was governed by a Global Steering Group comprised of representatives from twelve (12) international research institutes mainly from the CGIAR. Beyond the governance group, ASB comprised of 40 other partners spread across the tropical humid belt. Phase I of the programme was implemented through four thematic groups with support from GEF.

The book Slash and Burn Agriculture: Search for Alternatives covers the first decade of ASB work and explains that the programmeThe ASB Global Coordination Office staff together with the Global Steering Group, the main policy and decision-making body whose primary role is to provide overall governance and guidance to the ASB Partnershipprovided “rigorous science, new conceptual and empirical tools, and thoughtful policy analysis” that contributed to “identifying more sustainable land use practices and enabling policies that help conserve environmental functions of the tropical forest margins while increasing household income and food security for millions of poor people.”

Among key successes in the early years of the program include a research framework that established the basis for integrated natural resource management research of the CGIAR centers, the ASB matrix and tradeoff analysis that was taken up in government programs as a way to tackle complex problems and reconcile the interests of different stakeholders (see ASB Policy Brief 05). In addition, the program spearheaded the Tropical Forest Margins sub-global assessment (SGA), the first crosscutting SGA in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA).

“ASB has also shown how the disciplinary strengths in climate change, biodiversity, agronomy, policy reform, and adoption can be used in a balanced and positive way, with combined, mutually accepted standard methods.”

To celebrate its achievements, ASB received the CGIAR Science Award for Outstanding Partnership for its contribution towards “developing more environment-friendly farming techniques and slowing deforestation.”

Alternatives to Slash and Burn evolves into ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins

Since 2008, the program has rebranded from Alternatives to Slash-and –Burn to ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins and is no longer a system wide program of the CGIAR.

It is a global partnership that includes non-CGIAR partners such as National Agricultural Research Institutes and International Research Institutes with work both in and outside the CGIAR system.  However, ASB still aligns its research to contribute to and partners strongly with CGIAR institutions.

The scope of work and research mandate has also widened from reducing the threat of slash-and-burn farming systems to the world’s humid tropical forests and exploring viable and profitable land use alternatives for smallholder farmers to reducing emissions from land use change, including forestry, agriculture, while ensuring viable livelihoods and enhancing social and environmental co-benefits.

About 1000 publications have been produced under the auspices of ASB to date. This includes 300 refereed journal articles, 25 books, 100 book chapters and more than 50 policy briefs. In 2005, the External Programme review panel for ASB found that ASB publications have been well cited by specialists and relevant policy documents globally (Clarke et al 2005). Table 1.1 highlights key ASB publications.

Tools, methodologies, guidelines and resources that have seen the most number of downloads from the website and have been used to train relevant stakeholders including national government officials to date include:

Stay tuned on our anniversary events here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agroforestry Landscapes contributing to the Future we Want

By Paul Stapleton and Meine vanNoordwijk

The Rio+20 meetings started a process for the world to articulate the future we want through a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Landscapes with forests, trees and agroforestry will be central to achieving many of these goals. As part of its annual Science Week, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)  is staging the Nairobi Landscape Day at its headquarters on Friday 13 September 2013.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been working at the landscape level for many years and has accumulated a depth of knowledge and expertise in the approachLandscapes combine 1) people and their ambitions and livelihoods, 2) land use systems with and without trees, 3) patterns of tree cover in space and time, interacting with the topography, soils, climate, water flows, flora and fauna, 4) ecosystem services, or the benefits humans derive from functioning (agro)ecosystems, 5) stakeholders who care about what happens with the services and the underlying natural and social capital, 6) governance mechanisms by which stakeholders can influence, in positive or negative ways, what people do. This completes the circle, or logical loop, leading to overall degradation (in many of our landscapes), restoration or gradual improvement. The future earth we want will have zero (net) degradation, as one of the proposed sustainable development goals articulates. A large new scientific effort coordinated by all academies of science in the world is now zooming in on this FuturEarth concept.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been working at the landscape level for many years and has accumulated a depth of knowledge and expertise in the approach. Nairobi Landscape Day will have four events: an eye-opening lecture on future earth, sustainable development goal, agroforestry and experience with landscape approaches so far; a virtual fieldtrip around the world, visiting live examples of how people and landscapes  interact across the 6 aspects;  an open house, where we show our various approaches to landscapes; a discussion panel on the demand for and supply of scientific analysis to support these feedback loops.

ICRAF scientists Cheikh Mbow, Sara Namirembe and Peter Minang will talk about “Agroforestry Landscapes, Sustainable Development Goals and the Future Earth We Want.”

In 2015 world leaders will take stock of the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and will see evidence that concrete targets that have the support of the global policy community can actually help in reducing poverty. However, the MDG on sustainable development will have little progress to show. In anticipation of this discussion, a UN-lead process has started to come up with a set of Sustainable Development Goals that build on the MDGs but give more operational clarity on the environmental side. Current drafts of the goals suggest that agroforestry can be relevant in meeting many of these SDGs. The lecture will introduce the Future Earth initiative, give an update on the development of the SDGs and start a discussion how agroforestry at large and ICRAF specifically can best participate.

After the lecture, participants will be taken on a virtual tour of the landscapes in Asia, Africa and Latin America where ICRAF works on integrated approaches. Since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we have become increasingly aware of the wide range of ecosystem services derived from landscapes. These include things like clean water, flood, droughts and soil erosion control, land and biodiversity conservation, in addition to agricultural and forest production. This session will answer the questions: Who is involved in farming, cutting and planting trees? What benefits do farmers get from trees, agroforestry practices and agroforestry land use? Which trees are where in the landscape? How do trees contribute to ecosystem services? Who cares and is a stakeholder of positive or negative change in landscape performance? How can stakeholders influence and have average on the drivers of change to which farmers respond?

A key feature of the landscape approach is that it integrates land and soil , agriculture, forests, trees, people, animals and water rather than treating them separately.  The landscape approach embraces these various landscape functions and seeks to manage land at the range of scales necessary to ensure sustainable development. After the tour, a summary will be given of the tools and approaches that have been developed during Science Week for integrated approaches, welcoming partners to share their work related to the landscape.

Adopting a landscape approach will have a range of impacts, such as preserving forests, raising the number of useful trees in the landscape, increasing agricultural production and food security, restoring degraded land and halting further land degradation and desertification, conserving biodiversity, contributing to poverty eradication, mitigating the effects of climate change and promoting a greener economy. The mix of these outcomes will vary according to context and local needs and aspirations.

As an essential part of the Day’s activities, there will be a panel discussion on the demand for scientific agroforestry knowledge for sustainable development goals, and the supply of such knowledge by the CGIAR and Future Earth academic science, chaired by ICRAF Deputy Director General, Research, Dr. Ravi Prabhu.

This should highlight ways to meet development challenges that do not jeopardize how future generations will be able to derive benefits from the products and services of the landscapes that support us today.

 Venue:      ICRAF Conference Hall                             

Day:          Friday 13th September, 2013

Time:        08:30 – 17:30hrs

Please plan to attend and distribute widely.  For further details on the event, contact Stella Muasya at s.muasya@cgiar.org  or Elizabeth Kahurani e.kahurani@cgiar.org

Can REDD+, PES and other payments prevent destruction and degradation of our ecosystems?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Markets can only be a part of the solution to reversing unacceptable levels of deforestation and forest degradation, according to research from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “Looking at the whole system and all available options remains the only guarantee, and this means taking a landscape perspective,” according to Dr Ravi Prabhu, Director of Research at ICRAF, who was speaking at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013.Dr Ravi Prabhu (left), Director of Research at ICRAF, with other panelists at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013

Dr Ravi defined a landscape as a mosaic of agriculture, forests, plantations with competitions, trade-offs and synergies between land uses. At this level, there are also multiple sectors, stakeholders and practices. Given that the system is so dynamic, he pointed to multifunctional co-investment mechanisms as necessary means of embracing local people, private and public sectors, PES bundling and stacking as options.

In other words, success was more likely if the needs and interests of all the actors who mattered were taken into account and a framework was set up to allow them to jointly invest finances, time and resources in the landscape in order to derive the values they were looking for. Although this would involve compromises and negotiation, a more diverse and therefore resilient system was likely to result.

The event, hosted by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), focused discussions on a report on non-market based approaches to reducing deforestation and forest degradation submitted to SBSTA by GFC.

According to the report, indigenous communities have always preserved and protected their forests not just for the economic value they derive from them but also for important cultural and spiritual functions. According to the report, there is evidence to show that areas protected by communities are more likely to survive deforestation and negative environment extractions as opposed to areas protected through other means of control such as government bans. As such, empowering communities to manage their forests remains the best option from efforts to protect the ecosystem while promoting livelihoods. But how?

Debates and negotiations have centered on market approaches such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Essentially these approaches are based on a financial compensation to forest users for the opportunity costs of more ‘destructive’ land-use forms based on a market price for the goods in question, e.g. water or tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of Global Forest Coalition warns that approaches based on such market mechanisms should be approached with caution as they could present a higher risk to communities particularly with regard to efficiency and equity. Besides, she argues, political and financial commitments do not match these policy frameworks. “For instance, so far, the carbon market has only realized less than 1% of the anticipated REDD+ funding. Financial constraints therefore bring in the issue of who receives funding, who is going to be paid for what and more often than not it is not the individual households that benefit,” said Simone while speaking at the UNFCCC side event.

She noted that there is need to pay attention to non-market based approaches that ensure recognition and territorial rights of the indigenous people and local communities. These should empower communities by also promoting local knowledge and information systems as well as policies for legal and financial support on land reforms, sustainable agriculture and that discourage destructive activities like logging. “Such means of empowering communities to protect their environment ensures sustainability as they do not rely on unpredictable and uncertain funding flows,” said Simone.

A landscape approach takes into account needs and interests of all the actors who matter especially local communitiesPresenting evidence from ICRAF’s work on environmental services, Dr Ravi used results from research sites in Southeast Asia and Africa to explain some of the PES related challenges especially on issues to do with equity and efficiency (see presentation on Slideshare). He emphasized the need for a comprehensive systematic approach, one that can leverage on best options available from various approaches and deliver on securing livelihoods for communities and ecosystem services. “Looking at the whole system is the only guarantee, and this means having a landscape perspective,” explained Ravi. He emphasized that a market price or opportunity costs based approach generally underestimated the full value of the forests, focused as they were on a particular good or service.

He concluded with the message that agroforestry systems can deliver both market and non-market benefits in ways that empower local communities to ensure sustainability.

Read about our work on Landscape approaches to REDD+

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