Spotlight on REDD work
The popular SciDev.Net and the new CGIAR Rural Climate Exchange blog recently featured several stories on the work of World Agroforestry Centre scientists in relation to how proposals to compensate countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation (or REDD) could be made to work .
The spotlight is set to remain on reducing forest emissions in developing countries with just five months until crucial international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. Scientists are also preparing to discuss this and other research at the 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry in Nairobi, Kenya in August.
In What are the real costs of reducing forest emissions? Peter Minang, Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, says that delivering benefits for protecting forests for carbon (such as through a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) scheme) will depend as much on politics and institutions as on science.
He cites examples from ASB studies across the humid and sub-humid tropics that show people make very low economic returns from cleared forests, when calculated per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted. Minang also asks ‘Are low opportunity costs enough?' and suggests one option for REDD might be to target specific ecosystems, such as peatlands, that store large amounts of carbon and don't generate much money when land use is changed. Agroforestry, which focuses on supporting trees in farmed landscapes that are intermediate between natural forests and intensive agriculture, is another option.
Minang goes on to state that REDD strategies need to address causes of deforestation, sustainable forest management and monitoring capacity. He says the costs of establishing and implementing REDD are still not well understood, nor are how and when it can deliver sustainable benefits.
An article by Festus Akinnifesi and Oluyede Ajayi from the World Agroforestry Centre, and Bart Muys of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, titled Africa needs agroforestry to cut forest emissions discusses the potential for agroforestry in sustaining both African environments and livelihoods.
The authors advocate for climate and livelihood, adaptation and mitigation, REDD and agriculture to be integrated to tackle extreme poverty and hunger and ensure environmental sustainability. They propose agroforestry as a key component of this approach.
The article refers to research by tree and carbon experts from the World Agroforestry Centre which suggests a billion hectares of farmland (much of it in developing countries) could be turned into carbon-rich agricultural landscapes, potentially sequestering 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - a third of the carbon reduction challenge.
In addition to creating an effective carbon sink, integrating trees into agricultural landscapes on a massive scale would also offer a stream of other benefits, including sustainable food production and helping to adapt to climate change. Among these are tree products such as fruits, medicines and wood but there are also ecosystem benefits such as pollination, water storage and erosion control.
The authors urge policymakers to recognise agroforestry as an important win-win solution.
SciDev.Net also highlights the Centre's recently produced policy brief The Case for Investing in Africa's Biocarbon which calls on the international climate community and African negotiators to consider Africa's potential to contribute to reducing emissions from land-use change.
Presenting views from the Africa Biocarbon Initiative, the policy brief emphasises the high potential for agriculture, forestry and other land uses to help mitigate climate change while providing co-benefits to Africans. Agriculture and deforestation are inextricably linked, especially in Africa, and about 70 per cent of agricultural emissions could be mitigated through activities in developing countries - but only forestry has featured in global mitigation strategies so far.
Download the full document: World Agroforestry Centre Policy Brief 4 - The Case for Investing in Africa's Biocarbon Potential
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) recently launched the CGIAR Rural Climate Exchange blog. This is proving to be a hub for information about the knowledge being generated by CGIAR centres and partners on how rural people in developing countries can better mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts.
In addition to drawing attention to the SciDev.Net articles, the blog carries an interview with Peter Minang where he shares his perspective on REDD, Africa's readiness and the importance of considering agriculture and other land uses in future climate deals.
Read the full interview: Putting Rural People at the Center of Climate Negotiations