forests

Climate Smart Territories organize communities to manage the ecosystem

By Marianela Arguello and Mary Coffman 

Ultimately, success in conservation efforts largely depends on decisions and actions by communities that live in and benefit from different ecosystem services.

Farmer Field School in the Trifinio Territory; participative learning mechanisms are key elements of Climate Smart Territories. Photo credit: Maicon BarreraClimate Smart Territories (CSTs) are social and geographical spaces where actors collaboratively manage ecosystem services to equitably improve human well-being. They do so by continuously optimizing land use and engaging in activities to both stop/prevent further emissions and also adapt to climate change effects. This calls for collective efforts within a highly organized society.

The concept of CSTs is elaborated in chapter 6: Climate Smart Territories (CST): An integrated approach to food security, ecosystem services, and climate change in rural areas of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice.

 CST approach is championed by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center) – an institution where decades of experience and commitment in the field have resulted in an integral vision for work in the territories. The book chapter brought together contributions from researchers and implementers in CATIE as well as strategic partners in Colombia.

The main objective of the chapter is to clearly explain the importance of the CSTs, their key elements and characteristics, as well as the way they differ in comparison to other territorial management approaches. The article presents clear examples of CSTs that have been carried out and are in the process of implementation in Huila, Colombia, and the Central American region, where the Mesoamerican Agro-Environmental Programme (MAP) works in the Trifinio and NicaCentral area.

Bastiaan Louman, leader of CATIE’s Climate Change and Watershed Programme, coordinated the study, and understands in great depth the essential aspects that need to be recognized in the CST approach; among them, that each farm or forest is part of something larger, making collaborative actions fundamental.

 “The CST approach gives great importance to the organization of society, so that everything feels like part of the territory,” Louman says. He explained that through CATIE’s experience working in the field, it has been possible to see how the CSTs have helped to emphasize governance factors and the growth of people’s capacities to analyze their situation, and define answers to problems that they find and face through mutual contributions. The farmer field schools (FFS) where farmers learn from each other, the systematization of experiences, applied and collaborative research and the multi-stakeholder platforms are key elements in this process of strengthening capacities.

 “Capacities that combine technical and local knowledge need to be strengthened, but also, the organizational part needs to be strengthened so that in the future, residents can respond to new challenges, such as the ones faced every day with more force and frequency due to climate change,” added Louman.

In the example of the work being carried out by CATIE/MAP in the Trifinio and NicaCentral region many constructive results have evolved from local level collaborations with the farmers, learning in conjunction with researchers, change agents, and producers, and making use of established local and regional platforms. These processes have strengthened the capacities that are needed to address critical issues at different geographical scales (such as ecosystem services) as well as increasing climate-smart practices.

Using this and other examples, the authors show that CST can be implemented successfully by first strengthening the communities resolve to CST so that the required changes can begin to take place. This implies the need for joint planning, monitoring and leadership; negotiation mechanisms; and, the use of systems to generate and share information related to climate and other natural resources.

Realizing landscape restoration initiatives through Landcare

By Clinton Muller & Dennis Garrity

The global agenda is turning its attention to landscape restoration initiatives. 

Visions have been set, such as the objective of Land Degradation Neutrality championed through the UNCCD at Rio+20.

Targets have been defined, including the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.

The new challenge now is how will these landscape restoration initiatives be realized?

National governments have demonstrated tremendous leadership in enacting sound policy to support landscape restoration initiatives. Landcare Group in Nigeria distributing seedlings as part of a revegetation project Ethiopia for instance, has committed to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land, more than one-sixth of the country’s total land area.  Likewise, Guatemala is working towards restoring 1.2 million hectares of it’s 10.7 million hectare land mass.  Many NGO’s and other agencies have also embarked on programs and activities to support these objectives.

While invariably the intent of achieving these goals are well grounded, the processes in which to fully realize them now, and into the future, are still being defined.

Landcare can bring a lot to the table to contribute to the discussion.

Founded independently, yet simultaneously in Australia and Germany in the mid 1980’s, Landcare is an approach based on the notion of communities caring for their landscape.  The model, based on the values of community empowerment and collective action to develop and apply innovative solutions to natural resource management challenges, has often been identified as ‘bottom-up’ rather than the conventional ‘top-down’ program design. 

It is the focus on the bottom up mechanism that places community at the forefront of landscape management and decision making activities.  This is not to suggest community can achieve these outcomes in isolation.  Lessons from the Landcare approach in Australia, which has scaled to a national program with more than 4,000 community Landcare groups, demonstrates the importance of effective partnerships.  Strong partnerships exist between voluntary community Landcare groups in Australia with various government agencies, NGOs and the private sector, as well as research institutes. 

Together, the Landcare community of Australia has changed their rural and urban landscape in supporting the reversal of land degradation.  Through the collective efforts of community Landcare groups, the Australian landscape has been transformed, as witnessed by:

  • the planting of millions of trees, shrubs and grasses
  • riparian protection works
  • restored water quality through streambank stabilization and stock exclusion from waterways
  • improved ground cover, grazing methods and soil management
  • protection and regeneration of remnant native vegetation for habitat; and
  • stronger, adaptable and resilient rural communities

The success of Landcare is not just isolated to Australia.  Strong evidence exists in the more than 30 countries globally who have embraced Landcare.  Communities have reclaimed erosive hillsides in Claveria, Philippines for agricultural production.  Farmers in Kapchorwa, Uganda, have protected the forested area of Mt Elgon and rehabilitated erosive hillslopes through re-vegetation and the development of community by-laws to address free grazing.  Degraded and erosive grasslands in Iceland have been rehabilitated by farmers through the seeding of lyme grass.  These actions have all been undertaken through the Landcare approach.

Realization of initiatives to restore global landscapes will require a coordinated response.  Establishing global, regional and national targets whilst facilitating conducive policy environments is essential.  Equally so is the engagement of the community at the grassroots.  Landcare provides a mechanism to realize this. 

Ultimately the realization of the vision for Landscape restoration will rest with the community, not just in the present through the adoption of remediation works, but also the adoption of a Landcare ethic to sustain landscape management into the future.

Source: This blog is based on Chapter 11: Landcare - a landscape approach at scale of the New book: Climate-smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Catacutan, D., Muller, C., Johnson, M., & Garrity, D. (2015). Landcare – a landscape approach at scale. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 151-161. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

 

 

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

By Gabrielle Kissinger, Lexeme Consulting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the author

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

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.

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