forests

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

 

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

 

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.

China Mountain Communities Adapt to Climate Change

The World Agroforestry Centre has released a new study, Coping with climate-induced water stresses through time and space in the mountains of Southwest China which documents innovative strategies to cope with long drought spells adopted by mountain communities in rural Yunnan, China.

Local strategies include “changing cropping varieties and cropping patterns, using water-saving technologies, improved irrigation methods and engaging in off-farm income generation. At the same time, communities now use collective action to cope with water stresses, including social organization and cooperation, village-level water-management rules, water storage and hiring irrigation managers.”

One of the lead scientists and Jianchu Xu says these efforts can be complemented through dual forest-management programmes, “one for recovery and restoration of natural forests, and one for incorporating trees into farmlands, both of which are based on robust research.”

Read full article

Guestbook

Tony La Viña: Landscape approach is a stronger signal to REDD+

By Elizabeth Kahurani

According to Tony La Viña, a REDD+ facilitator at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP 18) talks, a landscape approach holds potential to unlock ambiguities and uncertainties that threaten to stall implementation and scaling up of the REDD+  (Reducing emissions form Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism.

“We are looking at the new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) process as the future frameworkPanelists at the private sector side event organized at the sidelines of COP 18 that will merge REDD+, Agriculture, Land-Use Change and Forestry into a land use approach that might make more sense with stronger signals,” Tony said while speaking at an event organized to disseminate findings of a study on engagement of private sector in REDD+ conducted by ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre (ASB-ICRAF) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The event was co-organized with The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) at the margins of COP 18 in Doha, Qatar.

Tony’s views affirm ongoing research on viable ways of Reducing Emission from All Land Uses (REALU) that is being implemented by the ASB-ICRAF. REALU is based on the premise that REDD+ is only effective to some extent as it only addresses part of the total emissions from land-use change, and implementation of the mechanism is challenged by issues to do with measurements, monitoring, unclear forest definitions, leakage, respecting local communities rights and equity.

One of the key outputs from this research that is piloting landscape approaches demonstrations sites in the Congo Basin, Latin America and Southeast Asia is a strategy on Land Use Planning for Low Emission Development (LUWES) that has been applied in Indonesia to provide a guide on multistakeholder participation and emission reduction scenarios within specific zones of a landscape, or across an entire landscape.

Indeed, from debates and future plans being discussed here at COP 18, a landscape approach seems to be the future to REDD+. With the theme Sustaining Landscapes, this will be the year when Forest Day transits from an exclusive focus on forests to encompass other land uses. “Forest Day 6 will be the last one that is organized during the UNFCCC COP. We are looking forward to building on the Forest Day experience, joining forces with a wider range of partners in agriculture and rural development, and holding a Landscape Day at the UNFCCC COP next year,” notes Peter Holmgren, Director General at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Governments urged to mitigate REDD+ risks for private sector

At the side event, private sector actors underscored the role of governments in boosting private sector confidence by creating demand for REDD carbon credits and mitigating risk levels. “REDD investment credit cycles take long before they develop to a grade that investors want to buy. They require a lot of money and represent a huge amount of risk. We in the private sector are looking to the governments as the proxy for quality and assurance,” said Jonathan Shopley, Managing Director, The CarbonNeutral Company. Similar sentiments were echoed by Armin Sanhoevel, CEO, Allianz Climate Solutions GmbH.

Alfred Gichu, REDD+ focal point in Kenya noted that while at the international level there was need to create demand for the carbon market, the national governments need to have strategies and policies in place.  A key recommendation from the private sector study was that governments should encourage collaboration with private sector, provide proper governance structure and conducive environment for REDD+ implementation.

“A conducive policy environment would be one that addresses challenges to do with land tenure and carbon ownership, legal basis for private investment as well as appropriate social and environmental safeguards,” explains Florence Bernard, Programme Assosciate at ASB Partnership who led the study on private sector engagement.

Further, she noted that the benefits of involving the private sector as part of a solution to addressing deforestation and degradation go beyond meeting the current climate-finance gap, as they can also provide technical expertise, capacity building and technological innovation. “The private sector can, be part of the solution to mitigating climate change by addressing key drivers of deforestation,” Florence said.

With the title The Private Sector in the REDD+ Supply Chain: Trends, challenges and opportunities, the new study highlights  i) who are the private actors, including their areas of strength and capabilities that can be synergized to leverage on opportunities; and ii) Incentives needed to attract private sector engagement and investment at scale. These are vital steps to harnessing the potential and ability of the private sector in REDD+ efforts.

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Read full private sector study report

Read policy brief and Press release

Watch Climate Change TV Interview here

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