A successful payment for environmental services scheme in Indonesia is the subject of our feature article in this issue. We also celebrate the prominence of agroforestry at the recent IUFRO Congress where the new Agroforestry Policy Initiative was launched. There are links to articles about a unique agroforestry project in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the reality of Jatropha growing in East Africa. We share discussions from the Centre’s annual Science Forum and our plans for the biodiversity conference in Japan in October.
For the first time in the 100 year history of the event, agroforestry featured prominently at the 23rd International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea during August. Centre staff addressed the Congress on the potential timber supply from agroforestry, a study into carbon sequestration of agroforestry systems in the Sahel, and results from other work on how agroforestry can help ‘bullet-proof’ farms in the face of climate change.
The new Agroforestry Policy Initiative designed to make agroforestry a key contributor to ensuring food security, reducing poverty and combating climate change, was launched during the IUFRO Congress in the Republic of Korea in August. Involving FAO and a wide range of partners, the Initiative will support national and local policy reforms that will reduce barriers and improve incentives for private investment in agroforestry.
A pioneering agroforestry project in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is restoring heavily degraded landscapes and providing much needed food for communities living on the sloping lands. The China office of the World Agroforestry Centre has been well placed to provide technical expertise and training to the project since 2008, earning respect and admiration for its work in training and capacity development.
Sharing results, ensuring high quality research and future planning amid change were key areas of focus when 160 of the Centre’s scientists from across the globe gathered in Nairobi, Kenya from 6 to 8 September for the annual Science Forum. "We must keep in mind the 5 key livelihood problems and the 5 key landscape problems we are addressing,” Deputy Director General Tony Simons emphasized. “We have to be true to our science principles.”
Our presence in Nagoya
The Centre will participate in two side events at the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan. One will showcase how Landcare International is empowering communities to develop and apply innovative solutions to global landscape challenges. The other is a launch of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative which aims to bring together international organizations committed to the principles of this traditional Japanese farming system which seeks to achieve balance between people and nature.
Keeping forests high on the agenda in global strategies to address climate change is the goal of Forest Day 4. It will be held on Sunday 5 December alongside the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. Registration is now open.
The Africa launch of the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification on 16 August provided an opportunity to highlight agroforestry successes in dryland management and soil conservation. Agroforestry is cited in the UN Convention to Combat Desertification as a potential win-win land use system in providing key rehabilitation and other ecosystem services while also generating production and income for land users.
Powerful reward for erosion control
Sumberjaya farmers with a sediment trap they constructed to reduce the flow of silt into the river Photo: Rachman Pashsa / World Agroforestry Centre
The story of how a government-owned organization and the community came together to solve an environmental problem in the uplands of Sumatra, Indonesia is now providing a model for similar projects across the country and internationally.
The lush Bukit Barisan mountain range of Sumberjaya, Lampung Province is where the Way Besai watershed originates. It feeds one of Lampung Province’s three major rivers, the Tulang Bawang, and supplies a hydropower dam.
While protection forest and national park dominate, coffee gardens now occur on around 70 percent of the total area. Believing that deforestation and conversion to coffee farms had increased erosion and was threatening the operation of the Way Besai hydropower dam, as well as reducing the amount of water available for irrigated paddy rice downstream, the government evicting thousands of farmers between 1991 and 1996.
Subsequent studies by the World Agroforestry Centre showed that the coffee farms were actually controlling erosion in a similar way to natural forest. Plus, they were providing much-needed livelihoods to local people. However some over-weeding was resulting in erosion after heavy rains.
When the Centre’s Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services (RUPES) Program began working in the area in 2004 it was initially to support communities in gaining access to land tenure so they could cultivate protection forest in exchange for adopting environmentally friendly farming practices and protecting the forest.
RUPES program staff then began investigating how the community and the Way Besai hydropower company could work together at the landscape level to reduce sediment flowing into the dam.
“We believed that if the community could reduce the erosion then the company would be willing to provide them with some form of reward,” explains Beria Leimona, RUPES Project Coordinator. “It would be a classic example of a Payment for Environmental Services (PES) scheme aimed at alleviating poverty and protecting the natural environment.”
“RUPES had already been successful in the area with its work on land tenure; land value had increased, there was less corruption and farmers were practicing agroforestry and soil and water conservation.”
RUPES set up a pilot ‘RiverCare’ project to identify sediment sources and look at what could be done to reduce runoff. A formal agreement was brokered between the hydroelectric company and the community. It specified that if there was a 30 percent or more reduction in sediment then the community would receive their own micro-hydropower system. For a 21 to 29 percent reduction they would receive around US$700, and diminishing rewards for lower sediment reductions.
Farmers built small dams in the river to constrict flow and constructed infiltration pits and terraces in their coffee gardens. They planted trees and grass strips to reduce sedimentation and feed cattle. The community and Centre scientists monitored water quality and sediment levels to track progress.
At the end of project, there was around 20 percent reduction in sediment. Rather than being disappointed that the 30 percent target had not been achieved, the hydropower company recognized the community’s efforts and rewarded them with the micro-hydropower installation, giving them electricity for the first time.
“The company saw the willingness of the community to create a clean watershed and recognized their social responsibility,” Leimona says. “They understood that heavy rains had washed away some of the structures they put in place.”
As a result of the goodwill the project generated, the community has pledged to continue their conservation efforts.
According to researchers who have been studying the Way Besai case study, this PES scheme has many lessons for other such projects. “Most importantly, there must be involvement by all parties: local government, beneficiaries, communities and independent honest and transparent intermediaries,” Leimona emphasized.
“If you go into it just in terms of economics then you are set to fail. Trust must be at the core of any business agreement.”