Architecture of REALU: Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses

A landscape in Sumatra, Indonesia clearly shows a mosaic of forest, oil palm and clearcut areas. A whole-landscape approach accounts for carbon in all of these areas. Photo: V. Meadu, ASB.A landscape in Sumatra, Indonesia clearly shows a mosaic of forest, oil palm and clearcut areas. A whole-landscape approach accounts for carbon in all of these areas. Photo: V. Meadu, ASB.

The international community is still debating a new global climate deal, which will likely include a mechanism for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, including recovery of carbon stocks within forests (REDD-plus). While REDD-plus can be a valid and viable mechanism for climate change mitigation, it only addresses part of the total emissions from land-use change. REDD-plus will be much more effective if constructed as part of a comprehensive architecture addressing all land use in developing countries. A broad-based approach of Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) can lead to greater emission reductions and larger benefits for local people.

More attention is needed on the interactions between forest carbon stocks, other carbon stocks affected by land use, the major drivers of land use and forest change, and the livelihoods of the hundreds of millions of people whose actions shape those changes. Alone, REDD-plus will likely be hampered by methodological problems of leakage, unclear definition of ‘forest’, measurement methodology and equity issues between and within developed and developing countries with different agro-ecosystems.

The current phase of the REALU project is being developed with the title SECURED LANDSCAPES - Securing Ecosystems and Carbon benefits by Unlocking Reversal of Emissions Drivers in Landscapes.

Objectives and principles

The REALU Project Goal was to develop through action research, a set of approaches, methodologies and national capacities to implement effective landscape-based strategies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD-plus) within a context of rural sustainable development, national sovereignty, respect for community and indigenous rights, and the integrity of a global greenhouse gas accounting system.

SECURED LANDSCAPES phase of the project takes this objectives forward with the following specific areas of action research contribution with regards to landscape approaches to emission reductions: (i) developing methodological, policy and investment guidance (including approaches for private sector involvement and public‐private‐partnerships); (ii) design of frameworks for nesting plans and policies at mutiple levels and negotiations; (iii) piloting incentives in 4‐5 demonstration landscapes; and v) capcity building and promotion of science‐policy interactions at global, national and sub‐national levels.


Phase I focused on research activities at sites in Indonesia, Cameroon, Peru, Vietnam, and Nepal. Phase II was a build up on research conducted in four of these countries; Indonesia, Cameroon, Peru, and Vietnam.

SECURED LANDSACPE will further development of phase II in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo‐DRC, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam. The project is being implemented in collaboration with partner institutes.


National‐level Agricultural Research Organizations

  • The Institut de Recherche Agricole pour le Développement (IRAD) in Cameroon
  • TheInstitut National pour l’Etude et la Recherche Agronomiques (INERA) in DRC
  • The Indonesian Soil Research Institute (ISRI) and the Forest Research and Development Agency (FORDA) in Indonesia
  • The Instituto Nacional de Innovacion Agraria (INIA) in Peru
  • The Research Centre for Forest Ecology and Environment (RCFEE) in Vietnam

International Research Institutions

  • The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and country offices in the five project countries 
  • International Centre for Tropical Agricultre (CIAT)
  • International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) working in Cameroon




Donor credits:

 The Norwegian Agency for Development  Co-operation.






SECURED LANDSCAPE project builds on the results of the REALU project and takes them forward in important and
potentially impactful new ways including: (i) Scaling out the achievements of the project using tested landscape approaches and methods, (ii) Exploring and providing guidance on landscape investments through private sector and, (iii) Nested approaches to drivers, policies and institutions.

Various activities under phase II of the project were guided by the following broad objectives:

  1. Providing methodological, planning and training guidance to enable the operationalization of REALU as a strategy for enhancing REDD in project countries and globally
  2. Exploring Landscape approaches to REDD+ in demonstration landscapes (equally distributed in Asia, Africa and Latin America) in the REALU framework
  3. Engaging in global comparative action research that explores how REDD strategies are making progress on achieving the desired objectives
  4. Enhancing science-policy interactions within the global debate with results from the project

The REALU Architecture project will link knowledge with action by a) providing analyses of these cross-sectoral linkages in the tropical forest margins, based on long term engagement in Asia, Africa and Latin America; b) organizing multi-stakeholder events to explore implications for the design of an effective regime in the post-2012 context; and c) building the scientific and political basis for change through communicating and networking activities.

 Phase II REALU project substantive report

Phase I country research reports

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