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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How viable is a Landscape Approach: Lessons and Recommendations

To RSVP or for more information, please contact:

Paul Stapleton on Tel: +254 717 718 387 or  P.Stapleton@cgiar.org 

Elizabeth Kahurani on Tel: +254 721 537 627 or e.kahurani@cgiar.org   

For Immediate Release

How viable is a Landscape Approach: Lessons and Recommendations

Discussions on climate change are increasingly pointing to a landscape approach as the next best alternative or compliment to REDD+ whose takeoff has been hampered by challenges drawn mainly from the initiatives narrow focus on forests. However, there still remains need for clarity on definition and feasibility of the Landscape approach concept.

To provide evidence that adds to the body of knowledge to understand and implement the concept, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre has released a new report based on landscape approach pilot studies conducted in four continents across the tropics in Cameroon, Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam over a period of three years.

Understanding the Landscape Approach

According to the report, “Landscapes represent complex systems with sets of social, biophysical, human ecological and economic dimensions that interact with each other. Such interactions happen at multiple levels -the plot, farm, field levels and beyond. Integration enables understanding of such cross-scale interactions which determine numerous landscape-level patterns and changes. Understanding and building on interactions and feedback loops is thus important for success.”

The project further considered key operational concepts for landscape approaches that include heterogeneity, integration and interactions, multifunctionality, synergy and scale.

Landscape Approach: Lessons and recommendations on implementation

Lessons and recommendations below are drawn from an analysis of landscape approach feasibility studies in the four countries that in a participatory way looked at potential for emission reduction from all land uses including peatlands; financial & non-financial emission reduction incentives needed at landscape level; enabling conditions for effective landscape-based strategies; as well as methodology and tools for implementing and collaborating with the various stakeholders and institutions across scales.

“One important tool generated by the project that has been recommended for use by the Indonesia government for local governments to plan their actions to reduce GHG for entire provinces in Indonesia is the Land Use Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy (LUWES) which helps to explore land use options for supporting low carbon intensive development,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at ASB Partnership for the tropical Forest Margins.

Lessons

Recommendations

Incentives targeting non-forest high carbon stock land uses such as agroforestry, tree-based systems and peatlands were found to be attractive, potentially effective and efficient options for achieving REDD+, global climate change objectives and promoting sustainable livelihoods

Further linkage of REDD+ discussions in the international arena with the emerging Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) framing is needed to create rules and incentives for landscape approaches and investments.

Success in emissions reduction initiatives will need entry points beyond a sole emissions reduction focus given that carbon and its associated finance is unlikely to be a priority concern for local stakeholders

Emissions reduction planning and implementation needs to be integrated into the wider development aspirations of stakeholders if it is to succeed

Landscape approaches would benefit from greater effectiveness and efficiency when synergy is sought between emission reductions and other environmental, social and economic objectives including climate change adaptation and green economy approaches.

A co-investment approach is emerging as a necessary condition for achieving multiple landscape-level objectives

Key frameworks and models should be developed to enable better private sector involvement (financing and sharing of technical expertise) in emission reductions and sustainable development schemes at the landscape level. This could allow and involve innovative financial mechanisms for public and private investments. Such a mechanism could allow integration and optimization between currently separated mitigation and adaptation funding streams for example.

Landscape and jurisdictional approaches to emissions reduction can be complementary

Better research is required to understand and identify potential options for landscapes and jurisdictional interactions under different political economy contexts.

REDD+ readiness (and indeed future climate change readiness –NAMA, climate smart agriculture and others) needs to invest more in sub-national level REDD+ designs in order to enable landscape approaches for emissions reduction to thrive. Current readiness focuses more on international accountability structures and national levels, which does not automatically translate to a nested-systems architecture required to address drivers of deforestation at the landscape level.

Nesting landscapes to the national level is a necessary condition for success and scaling-up

 

Rules and guidance for nesting landscapes to the national level are needed. These could include specifying among others issues related to ownership rights to carbon, duties and royalties to be paid on investments, crediting, distribution of national emission targets, benefit sharing, risk management, MRV and baselines.

Identifying and understanding leverage points and potential levers of emissions beyond landscape boundaries is necessary to address drivers effectively.

 

The design and use of approaches that aim at identifying leverage points and levers for addressing drivers, as opposed to the current identification of land uses responsible for most conversions and a description of the processes, is needed.

 

The report is attached and can also be downloaded here: Towards a Landscape Approach for Reducing Emissions: A Substantive Report of the Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) Project

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+

Indonesia upholds Indigenous People’s Rights to Forest

By Elizabeth Kahurani with additional reporting by Martua Sirait, Meine van Noordwijk and Ujjwal Pradhan

Last Thursday, the constitutional court in Indonesia resolved a major ambiguity in Article 1 of the 1999 Forestry Law that claimed customary community’s forests were classified as state forest. This landmark ruling made a clear distinction between customary forests (hutan adat) belonging to the customary communities (masyarakat adat) that were controlled indirectly by the state, and state forests controlled directly by the state through the  Ministry of Forestry (MoF).

Meeting explores low emission development scenarios

By Glenn Hyman, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Pucallpa, Peru - Last week more than 25 professionals working on issues related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions met in the city of Pucallpa, Peru to discuss low emissions development scenarios. The workshop was organized by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Regional Government of Ucayali, with participation of other institutions working in sustainable development in the region. The initiative is an activity of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins.

Group discussion during training on methodologies to estimate the costs and benefits of development, Pucallpa, PeruThe workshop was a combination of discussions on regional planning and of training in methodologies to estimate the costs and benefits of development. During the workshop’s first day, participants discussed different development scenarios, including the effects of increases in deforestation and increases in the development of certain crops. Subsequent days were used to estimate the impact of different development scenarios. Toward that end, ICRAF scientists gave training in the ABACUS software. Sonya Dewi and Degi Harja, of ICRAF’s Southeast Asia headquarters, traveled all the way from Indonesia to give instructions and how to use the software tool, as well as explaining low emissions development planning methodology. ABACUS  estimates greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from land-use change and the opportunity costs of avoiding such changes.

On the last day of the workshop, workgroups presented the results of their simulations before a group of decision-makers in the region, including Franz Orlando Tang Jara, director of the Natural Resources Department of Ucayali and Miguel Vasquez, President of the Oil Palm Roundtable, among others. A news article by Peru national REDD Group had earlier indicated that the training would benefit officials from various government ministries.

The participants produced many interesting results and many questions to be answered with future research. Finding a balance between economic development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have its complications and difficulties. Some projections for growth of the oil Palm industry are going to imply substantial conversion of forests simply for the lack of other available lands. The development of new transportation infrastructure may have enormous impacts and requires much more research to understand the costs and benefits of these planned developments. The ASB  Partnership will publish a final report of the workshop at the end of May.

Read this article in Spanish here

Download: Landuse Planning for Low Emission Development Strategy

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