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E-News Issue 12 April 2009

ASB Scientists Support Africa Biocarbon Initiative

Scientists from the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins are working with climate change negotiators across Africa to build a common understanding and negotiation position on the potential for agricultural and forested landscapes to store carbon, improve agricultural productivity, and help smallholder farmers become resilient to climate change impacts

The Africa Biocarbon Initiative proposes a landscape approach to carbon management that takes account of the full opportunities for reduced emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses (AFOLU).  The Africa Biocarbon Initiative was launched by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) at the December 2008 meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the ASB Partnership will help the initiative assess the drivers of land use change, to understand the carbon profile of alternative land uses, and to assess the corresponding impacts on agricultural productivity, soil conservation and carbon stocks. ASB scientists will also help climate change negotiators from 22 countries understand their policy options at the national, regional and international levels, and formulate common positions leading up to the international climate change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. An ambitious agenda of research, synthesis, information sharing and consultations is planned for the next few months, with activities peaking in at the June meeting of the UNFCCC in Bonn and culminating at the Copenhagen conference.

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Report on the workshop on opportunities and challenges for mitigation in the agricultural sector
During the meeting of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC (29 March - 8 April 2009, Bonn), Parties and Observers met to discuss the opportunities and challenges for mitigating greenhouse gases in the agricultural sector.
Key points:
  • Agriculture is responsible for about 14 per cent of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is expected to have high emission growth rates, driven mainly by population and income increase, diet and technological changes.
  • Agriculture also has considerable technical mitigation potential (depending on national and regional circumstances), mostly in sequestration of carbon in agricultural soils, followed by methane and nitrous oxide reductions resulting mainly from livestock and rice cultivation.
  • The increase in agriculture productivity and efficiency is key to limiting GHG emissions in this sector.
  • About 70 per cent of the economic potential for mitigation is in developing countries, where the agricultural sector is often a significant source of GHG emissions but also a primary source of employment.
  • there is synergy between mitigation in agriculture, adaptation, sustainable development, food security, poverty alleviation, sustainable development and energy security. Examples of this include the positive correlation between mitigation in agriculture and: water storage capacity in soils; reduced soil degradation and erosion; and reduced vulnerability to climate change. In many cases mitigation and adaptation are intertwined and must be addressed simultaneously.
Full Report:  FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/CRP.2 (PDF)

80% of agricultural expansion since 1980 came at expense of forests

More than half of cropland expansion between 1980 and 2000 occurred at the expense of natural forests, while another 30 percent of occurred in disturbed forests. Holly Gibbs, a Stanford University researcher, studied more than 600 satellite images from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and other organizations.
“What we found was that indeed forests were the primary source for new croplands as they expanded across the tropics during the 1980s and 1990s,” Gibbs explained. “Cropland expansion, whether it’s for fuel, feed or food, has undoubtedly led to more deforestation, and evidence is mounting that this trend will continue.”

Equipping Local Stakeholders in Anticipation to REDD Mechanisms in Indonesia
Fair, Efficient and Sustainable Emission Reduction from Land Use in Indonesia (FESERLUI) is one year capacity building project funded by the David & Lucile Packard Foundation. The project aims to support tree-based livelihoods, transparent carbon accounting and negotiation support for local communities, NGOs and government agencies. In this way, the feedback systems between the central government and the regional governments and civil society can be strengthened. Read more...

Statement on Climate Change and African Forests
The African Forest Forum has released a Statement on Climate Change and African forests, highlighting the relationship between forests, climate change mitigation and climate change impacts. The AFF calls for greater African participation in the design of a mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) post 2012. The statement also calls for taking into account the drivers of deforestation and emissions from other land uses. Read more...

US Climate Change policy: Waxman-Markey and REDD
In late March US Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey released the first draft of a climate bill that presents three mechanisms designed to provide funding for reducing tropical deforestation: offsets, a supplemental pollution reduction program, and strategic reserve auctions. Read more...


Agriculture and Climate Change: An Agenda for Negotiation in Copenhagen - IFPRI 2020 Focus Brief
If fundamental climate change mitigation and adaptation goals are to be met, international climate negotiations must include agriculture. Agriculture and climate change are linked in important ways, and this brief focuses on three: (1) climate change will have large effects on agriculture, but precisely where and how much are uncertain, (2) agriculture can help mitigate climate change, and (3) poor farmers will need help adapting to climate change. Read more...

How Forests Attract Rain: An Examination of a New Hypothesis
A new paper by Douglas Sheil (Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation) and Daniel Murdiyarso (Center for International Forestry Research) suggests that forest cover plays a much greater role in determining rainfall than previously recognized. It explains how forested regions generate large-scale flows in atmospheric water vapor. Under this hypothesis, high rainfall occurs in continental interiors such as the Amazon and Congo river basins only because of near-continuous forest cover from interior to coast. Read more...

Seeing REDD in the Amazon: a win for people, trees, and climate
A new brief by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) discusses the potential impacts of a large-scale REDD project in Amazonas, Brazil. Read more...

Norway REDD Options Assessment Report
The Government of Norway has made the inclusion of a mechanism for REDD in a post-2012 climate regime a policy priority in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. To achieve this, sufficient fact-based analysis of options on how to effectively reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and impacts of an agreed mechanism will be crucial. The REDD Options Assessment Report is one important contribution in that regard.
Download: English · Français · Español

Opportunities and Events

Hiring: Climate Change Scientist - ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya
The World Agroforestry Centre seeks to recruit a world-class scientist to conduct research contributing to its Global Research Project (GRP) on Climate Change. Responsibilities include contributing to a tool box for carbon sequestration project design and guidelines for REDD/AFoLU that will benefit small farmers and local communities Please click here for full details.

Forest Governance, Tenure and Enterprise: Opportunities for Livelihoods and Wealth in Central and West Africa Yaoundé, Cameroon May 25-29 Read more...

Towards a rights-based agenda in international forestry? Berkeley, California 29 May 2009  Read more...

World Congress of Agroforestry Nairobi, Kenya 23-28 August 2009 Read more...

2009 World Forestry Congress Buenos Aires, Argentina 18-25 October 2009 Read more...

Opinions to Note

Contract and converge: The path to sustainable growth

In a recent article, David Dickson, director of SciDev.Net makes a compelling plea for a new - sustainable - economic world order
Over the coming months, the true test for the G20 leaders will be whether they can create a new global economic system that not only provides financial stability — the main goal of the London summit — but also puts the world on a path to genuine sustainable economic growth...
For rich countries, this means ensuring — as President Obama has already promised to do in the United States — that a high proportion of any economic reform package goes to supporting and expanding sustainable industries.
For poor countries, it means this and more. No attempt at global economic reform based on social equity and political stability can afford to ignore these countries’ many social needs — listed in, but not confined to, the Millennium Development Goals.
Source: SciDev.Net.
Opportunities and Events
Edited by: Vanessa Meadu.
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