From farm to landscape: Approaches for multilevel landscape management for climate change mitigation

Jeff Hayward of the Rainforest Alliance speaks at a session on Approaches for multilevel landscape management for mitigation 5 December

Jeff Hayward of the Rainforest Alliance speaks at a session on approaches for multilevel landscape management for climate change mitigation. 5 December 2014, Lima COP 20

On the sidelines of the on-going UN climate talks, scientists, policy makers and development practitioners deliberated on how landscape approaches can be used to plan and implement mitigation actions to manage agriculture and forest dynamics. Drawing on examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America, discussions were on steps in designing strategies to attain landscape level mitigation outcomes, as well as synergies with adaptation measures.

Countries are adopting National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) that are context specific to lessen the effects of climate change. How can decision-making be moved from individual farm level to the collective level? People consider opportunity costs when they decide on the product to be promoted. What are the trade-offs involved in having to promote specific objectives, as opposed to individual farmers’ objectives? How do we move from farmer level, beyond the landscape to the national level?

Peter Minang, a senior scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre remarked, “A combination of three scenarios based on incomes, trade-offs and carbon emissions could offer the solution to determining objectives for NAMAs.”

First, often decisions are made based on incomes from specific crops / or land uses. The government could allocate objectives to different regions, as done in Vietnam, and put in place necessary incentives to facilitate this. For this to succeed, there has to be a common vision in the region. Secondly, incentives need to be put in place to encourage adoption of objectives. In Cameroon for example, full sun cocoa can produce higher yields of up to 25% as compared to cocoa planted on farms with trees. However, big trees on farms store 70-90% of carbon on farms, therefore less carbon in the cocoa plant. What then are the incentives for people to produce in high carbon systems as opposed to full sun cocoa? Lastly, decisions could be made based on the potential emission reduction. Evidence on each region’s emission potential is required for this to be effective.

The discussion also looked at synergies between mitigation and adaption as a means to the effective management of landscapes. “It is important that we take into account the interdependence between the two when implementing NAMAs. What are the needs of the people in the landscapes? This requires serious consideration of adaptation needs of the societies. How can we look at the synergies?,” posed Lalisa Duguma, a scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre?

Different forest activities such as REDD and peatlands focus on mitigation and are mainly driven by actions related to livelihoods, infrastructure, market forces that lead to deforestation. These are actually linked to adaptation.

“In tropical landscapes if we want to achieve the mitigation benefits, for example through the NAMAs, we have to take into account the adaptation needs of the society. Failure to do so will have a knock-on in efforts to achieve the mitigation objectives. Likewise if we want to reduce the long-term adaptation costs we need to be able mitigate factors causing climate change. Proper choice of practices that contribute to both adaptation and mitigation measures is critical to address climate change in a synergistic manner,” added Duguma.

Jeff Hayward of the Rainforest Alliance concluded the discussion by presenting avenues to landscape approaches. “A landscape approach is the way to achieve impact between forests and agriculture. We can achieve this by expanding activities to include more issues, communities and partners, by combining agriculture, forestry and tourism in a synergistic way, by working with private companies to reduce risks and guide investments, as well as demonstrate impact at larger scale.” Other means include developing methods and systems to certify landscapes as opposed to farms, and using business engagement multi-stakeholder initiatives around land use planning, institutional and policy alignments and public-private partnerships.

“We have achieved results in Ghana where we used different approaches such as schools and training lead farmers and technicians. We started with 2000 cocoa farmers and worked to build a body of best practice on how they can build a climate-smart agriculture practice, get certification and improve their productivity. Yields have increased by 15-30% translating to an increase of income of about 25%,” added Hayward.

As demonstrated by the three presenters, different landscape approaches can be used to plan and implement mitigation actions to manage agriculture and forest dynamics.

Related links:

The World Agroforestry Centre at the COP20:

Photos from Lima COP 20 and Global Landscapes Forum

Climate change blogs from ICRAF'

Susan Onyango

Susan Onyango is the Global Communications Coordinator at the World Agroforestry Centre and is based at the headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. With over 15 year’s experience in communication, she ensures efficient and effective coordination of communication support to units and regions at ICRAF. She joined ICRAF in 2014 as communications specialist for the Climate Change Unit. Susan holds a MA communication studies and a BA in English. Twitter: @susanonyango

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