Constructive critique. This book provides a critical, evidence-based analysis of REDD+ implementation so far, without losing sight of the urgent need to reduce forest-based emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change.
REDD+ as envisioned has not been tested at scale. Results-based payment, the novel feature of REDD+, has gone untested. International funding (both public and private) remains scarce, and demand through carbon markets is lacking.
Better national enabling conditions. Over 50 countries have included REDD+ in their NDCs and developed national REDD+ strategies. REDD+ has improved countries monitoring capacities and understanding of drivers, increased stakeholder involvement, and provided a platform to secure indigenous and community land rights all key conditions for addressing deforestation and forest degradation.
Modest forest and social impacts. Local REDD+ initiatives have achieved limited but positive outcomes for forests. Well-being impacts have been modest and mixed, but have proved more likely to be positive when incentives are included.
National coordination, with a positive narrative. Forest-based mitigation strategies must now be mainstreamed across sectors and levels of government. A strong positive narrative on how forests contribute to economic development and climate goals could boost forest-based mitigation, in spite of the current political uncertainties in key emitting countries.
Evolving REDD+ and new initiatives. REDD+ has evolved, and new initiatives have emerged to support its broader objective: private sector sustainability commitments, climate-smart agriculture, forest and landscape restoration, and more holistic jurisdictional approaches working across legally defined territories.
The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes the importance of the mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and enhance carbon stocks (REDD+). We reviewed 45 articles from the recent scientific literature to understand the outcomes of REDD+ interventions on the ground, in terms of local participation in REDD+, and its carbon and non-carbon (e.g. tenure, well-being, biodiversity) goals. Our review finds few studies that use a counterfactual scenario to measure REDD+ impacts, and relatively little attention to carbon (versus non-carbon) outcomes. The few studies focused on carbon/land use outcomes show moderately encouraging results, while the more numerous studies on non-carbon outcomes (especially well-being) highlight small or insignificant results. To enhance REDD+ performance, these studies recommend improved engagement with local communities, increased funding to bolster interventions on the ground, and more attention to both carbon and non-carbon outcomes in implementation and evaluation.
Mangroves grow along the coast of West Bali National Park, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM
Is eating a kilogram of shrimp worth 1600 kilos of greenhouse emissions?
You’re having dinner with your date. You both order the ‘surf and turf’ special: a shrimp appetizer and a steak. You might not know it, but the carbon footprint of your meal is mind-boggling massive.
If the beef and seafood came from the tropics, where mangroves once grew, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the two dinners alone would be roughly equivalent to driving from Los Angeles to New York City and back – a massive 1632 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Or, to put it another way, those greenhouse gas emissions would weigh about as much as the car you drove to the restaurant.
To come up with these numbers, scientists – including some CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) – spent seven years working in muddy mangrove forests from Southeast Asia to Central America.
Across the tropics, mangrove forests are being cleared to make way for agriculture and aquaculture. Found on the frontier of land and sea, their seaward sides are converted to shrimp ponds, while their drier edges are claimed and drained to become rice fields or cattle pastures.
The scientists examined 55 sites where that conversion is happening, in Indonesia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It’s the first time that a carbon-footprint study has taken into account the greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation.
When the researchers made their final calculations, even they were surprised.
For every kilogram of beef produced on land that was converted from mangrove forest, 1440 kilograms of climate-altering greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere. For shrimp (more widely known as ‘prawns’ in the U.K. and Australia), it’s even worse: 1603 kg of emissions per kilo of crustacean.
“We were astounded that the carbon footprints were as high as they were,” says lead author Boone Kauffman, a mangrove expert from Oregon State University.
So why the out-sized emissions?
Mangrove forests store a lot more carbon than terrestrial tropical forests, because they sequester a huge amount in the soil – in some cases up to 98 percent of the carbon stocks in a mangrove ecosystem can be underground.
When those forests are cut and drained, carbon isn’t just lost through the breakdown of leaves, twigs and branches. All that carbon in the soil is also released – and not just at the surface. The study found that deforestation could release carbon stored up to three meters below ground.
That’s why mangroves may account for as much as 12 percent of the total emissions for all tropical deforestation, Kauffman says, even though they only make up 0.6 percent of the land area occupied by tropical forests.
“You’re losing centuries of carbon sequestration in just a few years of land use,” says Kauffman.
That’s the other big problem with these conversions – shrimp ponds in particular have very short life spans. Disease, soil acidification, pollution, and market conditions tend to limit their use to just three to nine years (the scientists assumed a conservative nine years for the purposes of the study, meaning that the actual carbon footprint of some shrimp may be even higher).
Once the area is exhausted, the ponds are abandoned – and the farmers move on to next patch of mangroves.
A SIMPLE QUESTION
CIFOR Principal Scientist Daniel Murdiyarso’s research in Indonesia has shown just how much carbon mangrove ecosystems can lock away.
“They store twice as much carbon per hectare compared with terrestrial forests – and in some cases five to six times as much,” he says.
New research is showing that emissions can be reduced during mangrove conversion by limiting the exposure of excavated soil to the air, but finding ways to reduce rampant mangrove deforestation is even more important.
Murdiyarso helped to conceptualise the carbon footprint study with Kauffman.
They wanted to find a way to make the climate impact of mangrove deforestation more easily understood.
“When scientists talk about the role that deforestation plays in climate change, scientists tend to talk about the global picture – petagrams, gigatons, a billion metric tonnes of carbon – and the public can’t really grasp that,” Kauffman says.
“So instead of scaling up to the global, we decided we would try to scale it down to an individual dinner – to report the influences of deforestation at the personal scale.”
To make the calculations, the researchers compared the carbon stocks in shrimp ponds or cattle pastures with nearby patches of intact mangrove forest.
That was harder than it sounds – they had to clamber through aerial mangrove roots to measure trees, gather every stick of downed wood, and collect muddy soil samples to take back to the lab.
“It brings the child out in you if you like being in the mud,” jokes Kauffman.
But that hard work had a very serious objective.
“We spent seven years on this project to make sure that we got it right,” Kauffman says.
“We are faced with such unprecedented environmental problems, particularly the threats of climate change and its possible environmental and social ramifications.”
“So it’s really important that we convey our science in a way in which the public can comprehend, so they can see how their daily activities affect climate change, and they can manage their lives accordingly.”
The result is a study that uses solid, real-world data from a broad range of sites across the tropics, with the aim of making people think about one simple question: Is a kilogram of shrimp worth 1600 kilos of greenhouse emissions?
By Kate Evans, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.
Addressing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Together: A Global Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Projects
Addressing Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Together: A Global Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Projects
25 January, 2017
Authors: Rico Kongsager, Bruno Locatelli, Florie Chazarin
Adaptation and mitigation share the ultimate purpose of reducing climate change impacts. However, they tend to be considered separately in projects and policies because of their different objectives and scales. Agriculture and forestry are related to both adaptation and mitigation: they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and removals, are vulnerable to climate variations, and form part of adaptive strategies for rural livelihoods. We assessed how climate change project design documents (PDDs) considered a joint contribution to adaptation and mitigation in forestry and agriculture in the tropics, by analyzing 201 PDDs from adaptation funds, mitigation instruments, and project standards [e.g., climate community and biodiversity (CCB)]. We analyzed whether PDDs established for one goal reported an explicit contribution to the other (i.e., whether mitigation PDDs contributed to adaptation and vice versa). We also examined whether the proposed activities or expected outcomes allowed for potential contributions to the two goals. Despite the separation between the two goals in international and national institutions, 37 % of the PDDs explicitly mentioned a contribution to the other objective, although only half of those substantiated it. In addition, most adaptation (90 %) and all mitigation PDDs could potentially report a contribution to at least partially to the other goal. Some adaptation project developers were interested in mitigation for the prospect of carbon funding, whereas mitigation project developers integrated adaptation to achieve greater long-term sustainability or to attain CCB certification. International and national institutions can provide incentives for projects to harness synergies and avoid trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation.
Many countries have included agriculture, forestry and other land use targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to fight climate change as part of the Paris Agreement.
The land use sector is particularly important because it holds many links to food security, economy, well being, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This sector is also unique because of its huge carbon sink potential. In developing countries, land use change (i.e. deforestation) and agriculture are often the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Unfortunately, emissions from land use change are notoriously hard to quantify and monitoring capacities in many developing countries remain low.
The Enhanced Transparency Framework was established to enable the tracking, comparing and understanding of national commitments worldwide to fight climate change. Countries will need to provide necessary information to track progress towards implementing and achieving their NDCs and on reducing GHG emissions.
This information will be used for a Global Stocktake conducted every five years. The Paris Agreement also encourages other stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to participate in efforts to address and respond to climate change.
This means that land use sector information will be needed for quantifying and tracking progress made at the local, national and global levels, as well as for guiding local mitigation planning and implementation of land use activities, and the accountability of actions and stakeholders (i.e. for tracking corporate ‘zero deforestation’ commitments).
A variety of stakeholders (governments, private sector, land managers, etc.) will increasingly look for trusted and reliable information, ready to-use methods and open-source solutions that would allow them to assess the state, dynamics and drivers of change regarding land resources, livelihoods, social protections and equity indicators.
There is a need for enhanced monitoring approaches that stakeholders can use to achieve their own goals, but that would also be perceived as transparent and legitimate by other stakeholders. They should also support accountability of all stakeholders within the framework of the Paris Agreement.
It is clear that beyond the efforts of national governments to monitor their emissions from the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, there is a need for additional monitoring approaches. A recent infobrief published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) provides insight into the role of independent monitoring approaches in enhancing transparency in the land use sector.
Results from a multi-stakeholder survey show that independent monitoring does not mean one specific tool, but rather a diversity of approaches with the purpose of increasing transparency and broadening stakeholder participation by providing free and open methods, data, and tools complementary to mandated reporting by national governments.
The CIFOR study gives key recommendations on how stakeholders can engage and benefit from independent monitoring. The authors recommend developing a practice of ‘data bridging’, not imposing a one-size-fits-all system, but rather simplifying and streamlining the dialogue between data users and producers.
The scientific community could play an important role by developing harmonized reference data, and guidance and training materials to make the best use of available data and information sources as it increases opportunities for participation and transparency.
Countries seeking to implement forest and agriculture-related mitigation actions could increase the use of open and ready-to-use tools to encourage participatory monitoring.
UNFCCC negotiators and reviewers could contribute by providing modalities and good practice guidelines for enhancing transparency and accountability in the land-use sector.
While the report provides a good starting point for discussions on enhanced transparency in the land use sector and the implications for monitoring, there are many other thorny issues that need to be considered going forth.
One major challenge will be to integrate biophysical information, obtained by field inventories and remote sensing, with survey and census data on livelihoods, social protection and equity indicators to better understand land use dynamics.
We should not only monitor climate goals, but also institutional change and social processes, which makes this even more complicated. Multiple sources and types of monitoring and reporting (i.e. national forest monitoring system, independent monitoring, private sector commitment tracking) will have to co-exist and be integrated into a multi-level, flexible and diverse system.
This is clearly an enormous task that demands a transdisciplinary approach. Enhancing transparency will require a giant effort, but it will hopefully lead to much-needed transformational changes to realize the full potential of the Paris Agreement, and beyond.
For more information on this topic, please contact Niki de Sy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christopher Martius at email@example.com. This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
The implications of international agreements on the ten countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their extensive forests was explained at an Experts Dialogue in Indonesia
The Paris Agreement is a global deal aimed at limiting the negative impact of climate change. The implications for Southeast Asia’s forests were explained to senior officials of member states at an Experts Dialogue on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in ASEAN held in Bali, Indonesia, 30 November 2016 by Grace Wong of the Center for International Forestry Research. The Dialogue was supported by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris, France in November 2015, reached a consensual deal—the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement—signed by 193 countries, 115 of which have ratified it. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.
Wong explained that the aim of the Agreement is described in Article 2: a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change; b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse-gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; and c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse-gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
For the first time, forests were explicitly mentioned, in Article 5.1, which encourages action for results-based payments to keep forests standing, such as the mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus Conservation (REDD+). Article 5.2 states that keeping forests and trees standing and sustainably managed will be crucial in global efforts to reach the goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5–2 °C. Especially for forest-rich Southeast Asia, avoided deforestation can provide major reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and is explicit in many nationally determined contributions to the goal.
The Paris Agreement was a complete document that sets out the overarching goals and framework for international climate action. The details of the Agreement are to be ironed out by 2018, with a review of progress in 2017. The recent 22nd Conference of Parties, held in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, began the implementation of the Agreement. Some of the key issues discussed were finance, the global stocktake process and guidance for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and transparency.
Finance: the Parties reiterated their commitment to USD 100 billion per year of public and private finance for developing countries by 2020. The UNFCCC Standing Committee of Finance released its biennial assessment showing an upper, bound estimate of total global climate finance in 2013 and 2014 from all sources added up to USD 714 billion. A greater balance between mitigation and adaptation was also indicated although only USD 80 million was committed to the Adaptation Fund. A new Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency trust fund has begun with an initial USD 50 million funding projects in Costa Rica, Kenya and South Africa. Non-market approaches were considered significant owing to complexities around the implementation of REDD+ policies and measures before results-based payments would be possible. How mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund will deal with both the non-market elements of policy performance and results-based payments will be closely monitored by all REDD+ countries. You can read more about this here and here.
NDCs: each country determines what contribution they should make to reach the global goals. Article 3 requires these contributions to be ‘ambitious’ and ‘represent a progression over time’. After five years, the next ambition should be more ambitious than previous. According to Wong, the challenges in developing guidance for NDCs are in communicating the mechanisms, accounting and developing guidance for different types of NDCs, avoiding double accounting and allowing flexibility for each country depending on their capacity.
Global stocktake: to evaluate whether the world is on track to limit warming. In 2018, a Facilitative Dialogue will assess progress and plan for the next round of NDCs.
Transparency: the foundation of the Paris Agreement’s ‘ambition mechanism’; a unique approach that allows countries to increase their ambition. A lot of discussion took place on how to create a fair ‘rulebook’ so all countries could have confidence when assessing each other’s climate pledges. The technicalities of the rulebook—setting baselines and methodologies—will likely continue into 2018. For example, decisions on the balance between national sovereignty and global uniformity in the rulebook for monitoring greenhouse-gas emissions were put off till the next year.
‘For REDD+, transparency includes assessing biases related to use of historical periods in forest reference greenhouse-gas emission levels and the systematic choices relevant to national circumstances’, said Wong. ‘Independent monitoring can be critical for credibility of any such system, involving a variety of practices that include elements of free and open methods, data and tools, increased participation and complementarity to national reporting’. A report on an event on transparency held during the Marrakech conference can be read here.
In addition, the implications need to be considered of any measuring, reporting and verification system aimed at REDD+ shaped by diverse interests, information, institutions and ideas that require multilevel coordination and governance. Understanding the politics of different people at different levels of government and society could lead to a more effective system.
The challenge for ASEAN
All nations recognize that achievement of the Paris Agreement goals as well as the Sustainable Development Goals will be impossible without action to protect, restore and sustainably manage all types of forests […] [T]ransformation of the forest sector requires fundamental changes from both the public and private sectors. Only determined, sustained leadership and inclusive forest governance will deliver this.
How will ASEAN leaders rise to this challenge? According to Wong, ASEAN member states need to increase transparency in the forest sector if they are to improve the effectiveness of REDD+. This should include efforts to incorporate the needs and interests of all the different groups of people involved through dialogue, communications, trust and participation. They also need to ensure transparency in, and free accessibility to, data and data sources, methodologies and tools.
‘Secondly, ASEAN member states need to increase the ambition of their NDCs and the role of forests’, said Wong. ‘This implies being open to independent review and actively participating in the review of others and also increasing investments into forest conservation, restoration and sustainable management, relative to other sectors’.
FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals
FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals
Deforestation in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Asep Ayat for 2014 Global Landscapes Forum Photo Competition
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News
An increasing number of states are embracing commitments made under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise. But how do these grand ambitions play out in reality?
In practice, climate action gains traction at the ground level — ‘where the rubber hits the road’, so to speak — and that requires collaboration among a whole range of different stakeholders.
Besides national governments, subnational governments are increasingly involved in action on climate change in the land use and forestry sectors. Non-state actors, including indigenous groups (which sometimes own and manage important territories), non-governmental organizations and the private sector, are also playing a growing role.
So how can the efforts of these various groups be best coordinated to meet national and international pledges, bringing real action on climate change?
She says that even with apparently technical issues like MRV, political tensions tend to emerge both horizontally and vertically among stakeholder groups when trying to turn ideas into reality. This shouldn’t discourage efforts to take action but suggests that we need to take a different approach.
“We can’t ignore political realities,” she says. “We have many great ideas, but no matter how great they might sound technically, we always bump into reality when we hit the ground and try to start implementing.”
“Politics is not necessarily good or bad, it just is. We need to embrace this and learn to work in this reality.”
Pham Thu Thuy, another CIFOR scientist involved in the study, says her research in Vietnam found that politics not only influenced coordination, but also shaped perceptions of goals and challenges among different levels of governance.
“Different levels perceive different problems. But also how they actually define the problem is based on their own perception and their political interest,” Thuy says.
The answer to coordinating those differences, she says, is to take a landscape approach.
You have to be aware of these politics and think about how you can bring together every piece of information and every active group to make a policy work,” she says.
“And I think that for the land-use system, if you want something to work, basically it has to be at the landscape level.”
Bruce Cabarle, Team Leader of Partnerships for Forests, an initiative for investment in sustainable use of land and forests, said in discussion at GLF that public-private-people partnerships were key to applying lessons learned into the future.
“The more interesting question is: How do we get synergies and complementarity between voluntary certification schemes and government regulations so that they are mutually reinforcing?” he asked.
Christoph Thies, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace, welcomed cooperative efforts among sectors, but maintained that states should take the lead.
“The private sector should never replace the roles and responsibilities of governments,” he said.
For Thies, the answer lies in understanding political factors as both challenges and opportunities for change.
“Technical barriers can be overcome,” he said. “To really address the landscape requires political will.”
On the ground
Fernando Sampaio, Executive Director of the PCI (Produce, Conserve and Include) Strategy State Committee in Mato Grosso, Brazil, acknowledged the importance of both private-sector and civil society involvement in ground-level efforts, from a subnational government perspective.
“The private sector is an important part of the process, but we also need to include other stakeholders who are excluded from the process,” he said.
Excluded groups often include indigenous peoples, whose land rights are not always recognized. Norvin Goff, President of MASTA, an indigenous federation that represents the Miskitus of the Honduran Mosquitia, said that blueprint approaches to land and forest use rarely work at the ground level for indigenous communities.
“We don’t need a set formula that has been used in the past, we need to create an approach together,” Goff said.
He urged closer partnerships between government and indigenous groups.
“Instead of an enemy, they should consider us as part of the solution,” he said.
If we are to find sustainable solutions to climate change, we have to look at the bigger picture.
And in that picture climate change – and carbon emissions – aren’t everything. Neither are biodiversity, water, forests, agriculture or coastal habitats and oceans, gender or communities, education, poverty and inequality or energy. In the big picture, the picture that counts, they are all important.
Saying this doesn’t make me a climate sceptic or a climate denier, or even a climate cynic. Far from it. But as the world gathers for COP22 in Marrakesh, a year after the Paris Agreement, it is clear to me that if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meet our climate targets, we have to find a new way of doing things.
The overwhelming tendency, the modus operandi of development, is to operate in silos, or compartments, of our own disciplines, our own organisations, our own ministries and our own sectors, all of us working toward our own targets of success.
An agricultural ministry is told to increase production of a certain crop, and if they have to clear 25 percent of the nation’s forests and all the biodiversity within, roll over indigenous groups, so be it. Climate change – let’s leave that to the Environment Ministry. Campaigners and non-governmental organisations often tend to stay in their own silo too – focusing on a single issue with little regard for the relevance of any others. That has to change.
We have to look at each SDG in context with the others, and approach them as a whole. We have to tear down the walls that separate sectors, because they do not represent the situation on the ground anywhere. In the real world, there are broad landscapes within which different interests, demands, objectives and targets compete.
Approaching solutions holistically is at the heart of what is known as the landscapes approach and the global movement that is arising around it. The term is not known beyond development circles but it should be, because every stretch of land or sea touched by mankind makes up the millions of landscapes on this planet.
The approach is neither prescriptive nor inflexible. It is not top-down. It embraces compromise. It accepts that in any dispute about how to manage resources there will be a need for arbitration between different demands – small-scale farmers, big agro-business, international agreements, national and local governments, conservationists.
The objective is to seek multiple measurable benefits from every action and investment in a landscape – more food, more income, greater equality, and a healthy environment. It assumes there will be trade-offs with no absolute winners and no absolute losers.
Enter the Global Landscapes Forum, the biggest event under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
Three years ago, a small group of organisations including the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme, together with my organisation, the Centre for International Forestry Research, created a platform on the margins of the UN’s climate change meetings where every sector and discipline could connect, through the lens of the landscapes approach, the climate agenda and the 2015 SDGs.
Today GLF is taking on a life of its own. Last year, more than 3,000 people from 105 countries – everyone from California Governor Jerry Brown to a tribal leader from Borneo – joined us in Paris. Its sixth gathering is being held in Marrakesh on November 16.
It has grown into a global community of several hundred organisations, with tens of thousands of people from every continent, including scientists, lawyers, bankers, indigenous and community leaders, farmers and foresters, NGO personnel, journalists and policy makers, actively sharing their experiences, research, initiatives and knowledge. In short, we have created a global conversation on building sustainable landscapes that is changing the way we think, connect and act.
Already we have received pledges to restore 148 million hectares of degraded land from countries all over the world. The next target is to increase that to 400 million hectares – and to devise the action plans needed to implement and measure them.
Our vision is to reach far beyond expert communities and connect and inspire a billion people to join us by 2020. We believe this is vital not just for reshaping the climate and development agenda, but for building a world that is sustainable, more prosperous and more equitable.
Low Emission Development Strategies in Agriculture. An Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Perspective
Low Emission Development Strategies in Agriculture. An Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Perspective
13 October, 2016
As countries experience economic growth and choose among available development pathways, they are in a favorable position to adopt natural resource use technologies and production practices that favor efficient use of inputs, healthy soils, and ecosystems. Current emphasis on increasing resilience to climate change and reducing agricultural greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions strengthens the support for sustainable agricultural production. In fact, reducing losses in soil fertility, reclaiming degraded lands, and promoting synergistic interaction between crop production and forests are generally seen as good climate change policies. In order for decision-makers to develop long-term policies that address these issues, they must have tools at their disposal that evaluate trade-offs, opportunities, and repercussions of the options considered. In this paper, the authors combine and reconcile the output of three models widely accessible to the public to analyze the impacts of policies that target emission reduction in the agricultural sector. We present an application to Colombia which reveals the importance of considering the full scope of interactions among the various land uses. Results indicate that investments in increasing the efficiency and productivity of the livestock sector and reducing land allocated to pasture are preferable to policies that target deforestation alone or target a reduction of emissions in crop production. Investments in livestock productivity and land-carrying capacity would reduce deforestation and provide sufficient gains in carbon stock to offset greater emissions from increased crop production while generating higher revenues.
Stretching the carbon goals: Agroforestry experts want new partnerships and a boost for research
Stretching the carbon goals: Agroforestry experts want new partnerships and a boost for research
Rwanda has vowed to restore two million ha, 80 percent of which is farmland. Photo: Alba Saray Pérez Terán/CIFOR
By Kerstin Reisdorf
“The contribution of trees in agriculture into the global carbon balance is still widely ignored. And if we don’t … start really blasting this message around the world, we are missing one of the biggest opportunities that this institution has had for many, many years.”
This is how Dennis Garrity, UN’s Drylands Ambassador and former Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), addressed his colleagues at the annual Science Week held in Nairobi at the beginning of September.
He said that there is a huge carbon storage potential of over four tons of carbon per ha per year on average. “So the main question is: How do we dramatically increase carbon stocks in agriculture?”
Garrity suggested leveraging countries Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC) to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions for the African Forest and Landscape Restoration Initiative AFR100. It’s neither “too late nor too early” because 22 African countries have made commitments of a total of 59 million hectares they want to restore. According to Garrity, these countries will realize that the dominant way they are going to meet their commitments is through agroforestry. Land restoration will also happen in croplands and pasture lands. “In many countries, agroforestry has already been seen as the major vehicle for land restoration,” he affirmed.
Kenya’s land restoration commitments, for example, amount to 5.1 million ha and “farmers in Kenya are planting trees like mad.”
Rwanda has committed to restoring two million ha, 80 percent of which is farmland, so agroforestry is going to be the vehicle by which they are actually going to accomplish it.
Garrity challenged his colleagues to “stretch their goals” and aim to double the speed of increasing tree biomass by 2030. “We just simply double the rate at which carbon is being stored in agriculture through agroforestry globally. By 2040, let’s double it again. And by the time we reach the target year 2050 for the world to reach carbon neutrality, why don’t we produce 1600 metric tons of carbon annually through agroforestry. ” And trees also provide the environment in which carbon storage in soils can be increased.
Garrity’s presentation was complemented by data from a recent study on tree cover on agricultural land and carbon sequestration. In the journal Nature, ICRAF’s Robert Zomer and colleagues state that the amount of carbon stored on farms is underestimated. Through remote sensing, Zomer calculated that 43% of all agricultural land globally has at least 10% tree cover and that this figure has been steadily rising over the last decade.
ICRAF’s Deputy Director General Research, Ravi Prabhu, suggested to use the vast datasets generated in the Sentinel Landscapes under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry to validate the new tree cover findings.
Garrity and Zomer proposed to overlay the new farming systems classification for Africa with the most recent map of tree cover and carbon storage to look at the potential of each farming system to store carbon.
The next steps according to Garitty are
Determine the carbon storage potential for each farming system through accelerated uptake of agroforestry
Set up national targets for carbon sequestration in agriculture and get countries competing with each other
Develop decision-support tools.
Garrity encouraged ICRAF to go beyond agroforestry and take leadership in “reviving” REDD+, developing global partnerships and mobilizing scientists to develop estimates for carbon sequestration “stretch goals” by farming system, country and region.
Research on key commodities such as oil palm, beef, soy and sugar forms part of Flagship 5 Global governance, trade and investment, of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). A new study suggests that Indonesia’s plans to expand sugarcane production endanger the country’s commitments to reduce emissions and pose a threat to forests and biodiversity. Harry Pearl spoke to researcher Sophia Gnych about her findings.
One million hectares of forest could be lost under sugarcane expansion
Expected emissions could thwart Indonesia’ GHG reduction efforts
Alternatively use already deforested land and increase productivity
While global attention is fixed on palm oil and logging as major drivers of deforestation in Indonesia, researchers have issued a dire warning about a new threat—sugarcane.
The sugarcane sector is on the brink of a “government-engineered boom,”according to a new study—a boom that, if fully developed, could result in huge forest loss and undermine Indonesia’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of its national food security program, the Indonesian government is seeking to convert more than 1 million hectares of tropical forests to sugarcane plantations.
“The sheer number of hectares that they are making available is quite shocking,” said Sophia Gnych, a research consultant at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), who worked on the study.
“It leaves things open for a lot of potential conflicts with local communities, vast impacts on biodiversity, and carbon emissions.”
A sweet investment
Commercial cultivation of sugarcane is not new to Indonesia. Plantations were first established by the Dutch colonial administration around 1830, mostly in central and eastern Java.
By the 1930s, Indonesia was the world’s second largest producer of sugar and a net exporter. But by the turn of the century—due to liberalization of sugar production and trade policies—things had started to unravel.
Indonesia now has a deficit of 3 million metric tons of sugar per year.
That looks set to change, however, with government plans to boost production in the name of food self-sufficiency. Sugar, along with rice, corn and beef, is one of the four key commodities at the heart of Indonesia’s food security program.
As of 2011, Indonesia had 457,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations, but that will rise significantly if the government’s plan to expand outside of Java (the hub of Indonesian production) goes ahead, according to the researchers.
The government has developed preferential policies to boost production. In 2010, a law was passed allowing sugarcane concessions of up to 150,000 hectares—more than three times the maximum area allowed for other commodities, according to the study.
In Papua, the maximum area of sugarcane plantations has been set at 300,000 hectares, the authors say.
Sugarcane is also exempt from Indonesia’s Forest Conservation Moratorium. The moratorium, signed into law by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011, is a key plank in the government’s plan to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions—more than 80 percent of which are caused by deforestation and land conversion.
With the exemption in place, the report’s authors say more than one million hectares of forest—roughly the size of Jamaica—is marked for conversion to sugarcane.
Gnych says the extent and size of the proposed plantations is “much greater than other commodities”. “That acts as an incentive for investors. For investors to really develop the infrastructure and the processing facilities needed to go along with the plantations in these areas, a massive incentive needs to exist.”
A bitter taste
The main areas targeted for expansion are the southern part of Papua province and the nearby Aru Islands. They are covered in large tracts of primary and secondary tropical forest, and home to endemic biodiversity and vulnerable species.
The study warns that biodiversity will be threatened by conversion, as well as indigenous land claims. Furthermore, vast amounts of carbon could be released into the atmosphere.
Using IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, the study estimates that sugarcane development in the Aru Islands may result in the release of 106,274,212 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while in Papua the volume of net carbon loss may be 19,217,775 tons of CO2.
“Cumulatively, the development of sugarcane plantation in these areas would increase Indonesian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land-use change and forestry by 20 percent, effectively negating the efforts and progress with REDD+ in other parts of the country,” the study concludes.
However, the authors say there are ample opportunities to increase sugar production without the expansion of plantations.
Among the study’s suggestions include the revision of existing plantation permits and spatial plans to strengthen the legal status of smallholder farmers. Smallholders dominate production in Indonesia, but many smallholder farms are located on land that is not registered with the national land agency. Gnych says this lack of legal clarity makes it hard for farmers to access credit. It also makes them less likely to participate in capacity building.
To achieve “significant gains” the study recommends:
Improving smallholder productivity, or sustainable intensification
Replanting with high-yield varieties and
investing in transportation infrastructure and new mills.
Gnych says there are parallels with other agricultural commodities produced in Indonesia, including palm oil. Many of the challenges are common themes, such as improving efficiency and yield on land already under production. “This is something that you hear said again and again: there is already land that is under development, or is degraded and we should be looking to develop on that and improve yields among smallholders to meet the market demand,” she said.
“But the main challenges lie in capacity building, access to financing, and clarity on who can deliver that.”
Taking the Bitter with the Sweet: Sugarcane’s Return as a Driver of Tropical Deforestation
Taking the Bitter with the Sweet: Sugarcane’s Return as a Driver of Tropical Deforestation
26 April, 2016
Click on the image to read the new study on sugarcane
Authors: Obidzinski, K.; Kusters, K.; Gnych, S.
Over more than 400 years, large areas of tropical forest in Brazil, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Australia, and other parts of the world were cleared to make way for sugarcane plantations. There is a general consensus in the scientific community that since the 1950s, the frontier expansion of sugarcane has stabilized and direct pressure on tropical forests from sugarcane expansion has diminished. Here, we show, however, that sugarcane plantations are on the cusp of returning as a major driver of deforestation in Indonesia.
The Indonesian government has developed preferential policies designed to boost sugar production in the name of national food security, and is seeking to convert more than 1 million hectares of tropical forest into sugarcane plantations. If fully developed, the plantation expansion program will undermine Indonesia’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The scale of the expansion program is such that it will radically alter the global environmental impact of sugarcane.
Protecting peat lands to reduce CO2 emissions while securing people’s livelihoods is a challenge in Indonesia. A video released by the World Agroforestry Centre documents the background and research carried out by a team of Indonesian and international scientists to help the Tanjung Jabung Barat district government on the Indonesian island of Sumatra identify which parts of the district have been producing the most greenhouse gasses from different land uses. The research is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). ICRAF’s Rob Finlayson knows more about this.
Each of the more than 400 district governments in the country is required to prepare plans to reduce greenhouse gasses as part of the national government’s commitment to bring down emissions by up to 41% by 2025. Preparing such plans is a challenge for most districts owing to a shortage of skilled staff.
Around 40% of the district is peat land, most of which had been covered by dense swamp forest until as recently as the 2000s, when much of the forests were removed to make way for agriculture and plantations, predominantly oil palm.
Peat can be many metres thick. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson
Using various techniques, such as spatial and carbon analyses, the scientists found that removing the district’s peat-swamp forests had released a lot of greenhouse gasses because of the large amount of carbon stored in the decaying, sodden, plant litter, which can be meters thick. When the trees are removed and the swamp drained, the peat becomes dry and can easily burn. The scientists also found that even after the forests had been cleared the peat was still emitting greenhouse gasses.
Benefits of peat protection
The research team argued that stopping clearance of the peat-swamp forests could more easily reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the district compared to changing logging practices associated with timber-production forests that were mainly on mineral soils in other parts of the district.
The peat-swamp forests were cleared mostly by internal migrants from other parts of Indonesia, who sold the timber and established farms, as part of a ‘pioneering’ tradition supported historically by the government’s transmigration program, designed to move people from densely-populated areas, such as Java, to less populated regions, often to work on plantations.
To try and keep the remaining forests and repair the degraded land, the district government declared peat-swamp forest land was protected and could not be cleared or used for farming. However, this mainly resulted in conflict between the government and the people who had cleared the land and now relied on it.
The migrants were often unaware that the forest they were clearing had been designated as ‘protection’ forest by the government or that they even ‘belonged’ to anyone and continued to clear the peat-swamp forests anyway. They were aided by a ‘land market’, which involved local people selling the forests or other land even though they had little or no legal right to do so. Indonesia has a long and complex history of conflicting claims over land by government, traditional communities and migrants.
From research to policy
Based on the research, the district government and the researchers agreed that rehabilitation was necessary for halting further environmental damage in the already-degraded peat-swamp forests but any such program had to address conflict over land ownership and the need to make a living.
To try and resolve these problems, the research team experimented to find the ‘best practice’ for agroforests on degraded peat land and the district forestry office started a peat-swamp rehabilitation program.
The star of that program is ‘jelutung’ (Dyera pollyphylla), a once-widespread indigenous tree. Its latex was in the past the primary ingredient of chewing gum but was also widely used in other industries. Its habitat—the peat-swamp forests—had been largely destroyed. Demand for jelutung latex had also dropped over the years and the tree had lost much of its economic value. But the government felt other markets could be found for the tree’s products.
The researchers worked with farmers and the forestry office to test different combinations of jelutung and other trees and plants—such as rubber, coffee, fruit and pineapple—that grow well on the unique qualities of peat soil.
Community forestry as the solution
The researchers also concluded that the best solution for all these problems—rehabilitating degraded land to reduce emissions and further clearing of forests, land rights and the need for farmers to make a living—was a government licence for land use known as Community Forestry (Hutan Kemasyarakatan). The licence included secure tenure as a non-financial incentive for rehabilitating land, which under certain conditions could also be used for making a living.
To promote the use of Community Forestry licences, the researchers explained the idea to local government officials and community groups. They took farmers and officials on visits to other villages that already had Community Forestry licences, mapped potential community forests with the farmers, trained them in how to plant and manage jelutung for greatest benefits, and improved the relationship between farmers and district government officials so that the process of applying for a licence would run more smoothly.
Now the farmers are working together with the scientists and the government and can look forward to great results. The jelutung and other crops are growing well and the first Community Forestry licence proposal has been submitted and awaits final approval.
The district government now has evidence and strong hope that Community Forestry on peat-swamp land will not only restore the ecological functions of the land but also improve the economic situation of the local farmers, help to mitigate the effects of climate change by storing more carbon while also securing land tenure and incomes.
The video will be used to promote the process and findings to district governments throughout Indonesia (in Indonesian) and to international audiences (in English). An animation used in the videos to promote better understanding of peat processes is also available as a separate video.