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Spotlight on Climate Change
Agroforestry is a sound strategy for climate change preparedness. (Photo: Valter Ziantoni/ICRAF)
Erratic and extreme weather, drought, storms, heat waves and freezing temperatures are occurring with increasing frequency. These manifestations of climate change are being felt by everyone, but rural smallholder farmers in the developing world with no livelihood alternatives are particularly hard hit.
Various ways to avoid or soften the effects of climate change [mitigation], or deal with its effects [adaptation] are being applied. Among these are initiatives is REDD+, a collaborative effort to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conserve nature, and grow more trees to capture greenhouse gases and strengthen ecosystems.
Agroforestry is a sound strategy for climate change preparedness, and our lead story shows at least five ways agroforestry is helping smallholder farmers in the Nyando River basin in Kenya face climate change. Not only do trees on farms store carbon and provide valuable environmental services, they also diversify the wealth base of rural households and bring nutritious food, fodder for animals, fuelwood, timber, medicines, and other tree-based products close to people’s homes.
Another important carbon sink is the soil. Read Meine van Noordwijk’s argument for more landscape-level research to establish the effects of soil erosion on environmental carbon.
Under a new partnership called 'Vision for Change: Sustainable Cocoa Communities’, Mars Chocolate, the World Agroforestry Centre and national partners in Côte d’Ivoire (the world’s largest cocoa producer) are working with farmers to raise cocoa production in a sustainable way, in order to meet the world’s surging demand and at the same time bring lasting livelihood benefits to communities. We now have a new cocoa minisite where you can access information on this exciting new project, plus videos and photos on cocoa production in Africa and Southeast Asia. The website also has photos from the recent World Cocoa Conference in Abidjan. Finally, we bring you links to stories, photos and videos from ICRAF’s participation at the recent global biodiversity conference (CBD COP 11) in Hyderabad, India.
Five ways agroforestry helps farmers adapt to climate change
A new study by Tannis Thorlakson of Harvard’s Sustainability Science Program and Henry Neufeldt, head of climate change research at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) explored just how agroforestry can help reduce farmers’ vulnerability to climate change. Using a farmer-managed agroforestry project developed by ICRAF and located in the Nyando District of western Kenya, the study compared two types of farmers: those who had been involved in agroforestry development projects for 2 to 4 years, and neighbouring farmers without agroforestry training.
The research showed that farmers’ general standard of living benefited from agroforestry practice in a number of ways:
improved farm productivity
more household wealth
specific coping strategies against droughts and floods.
Window on the future: fruit and nut growers can adapt to climate change
Our changing climate will make it harder for farmers growing temperate fruits and nuts in warmer regions to meet winter chill requirements, but there is much that can be done to help growers adapt. Climate analogue analysis is a new approach to adaptation planning that capitalizes on the fact that the future projected climates for a given location can be found today in another location. According to Eike Luedeling, climate change scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the approach should be used, even as researchers develop more accurate models for future climates. Read more
How is REDD+ doing in Africa?
Dr. Cheikh Mbow, senior climate change scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), says poorly implemented REDD+ initiatives could have a negative impact on the livelihoods of the very communities it was designed to benefit, particularly rural people who depend on forest resources.
A new report titled "Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa: Desk Review of REDD+ Implementation in Africa” synthesizes the ever-growing number of REDD+ activities under implementation in Africa, including the actors, objectives, means of execution, and outcomes. Read more
Sequestering carbon on Sahelian farms
What is the potential for carbon sequestration in dryland agroforestry systems such as those found in the African Sahel? Would carbon projects in such dry areas be economically viable? According to new modelling, dryland agroforestry systems present a unique set of challenges – and potential solutions.
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) climate change researchers Eike Luedeling and Henry Neufeldt say Sahelian Terestrial Carbon Projects (TCPs) would need either high carbon prices or the involvement of a large number of farmers to be viable. Read more
Role of the private sector in climate change interventions
Involving the private sector in REDD+ will be key to its success, says a new study by the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre (ASB-ICRAF) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). But “a conducive regulatory and policy environment that cushions against risk is key to moving forward on private sector engagement.”
Theresearch, which involved an extensive desk study, in-country semi-structured interviews with REDD+ experts and practitioners, and regional expert meetings, is captured in new policy briefs and reports, downloadable at the links below. Read more
Does erosion represent landscape-level loss or gain of carbon stocks?
Citing a new scientific article by Leuven University researchers van Oost et al.,World Agroforestry Centre’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Meine van Noordwijk says the common perception that soil erosion is a major source of emissions is not based on research. He calls for long-term, landscape-level research—similar to that reported by van Oost from the Dijle catchment in Belgium—to be done in tropical landscapes. This is the only way the evidence on soil-based carbon emission can be established, he says. Read more
Sustainable cocoa production for a better life
A special guest blog by Dr. Ermias Betemariam, land health scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre, describes his recent visit to cocoa farms in Soubré, a region of Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer. Dr. Ermias talks about the various land health, agronomic and socio-economic constraints being faced by smallholder cocoa farmers there, and how these are being tackled within the Vision for Change: Sustainable Cocoa Communities project.
Agroforestry and natural resource management are well-established research and development disciplines worldwide. Other than the World Agoforestry Centre, many national, regional and international institutions offer a broad range of fellowship and scholarship opportunities that develop and strengthen the capacity of individual learners in these areas.