Issue 9: November 2010

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Two feature articles in this issue: a report of the latest in a series of highly effective training courses for extension agents in the Amazon countries, and work in Nepal which shows that a scheme to reduce emissions from all land uses (REALU) would be most beneficial to the people of Nepal and also achieve international goals to reduce the rate of global warming and climate change. Evergreen Agriculture has featured high on the international agenda, and we report on our preparations for COP 16 in Cancún in Mexico.

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Evergreen Agriculture receives unprecedented attention at Hague Conference
The concept of Evergreen Agriculture was enthusiastically received at the high-level Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, on 2 November 2010 in the Netherlands. Leading agriculture and climate scientists, policymakers, development experts and private sector representatives attended from around the world. During his presentation, the Director General Dennis Garrity spoke about how Evergreen Agriculture—or the integration of fertilizer trees into crop and livestock-holding farms—is rapidly emerging as an affordable and accessible solution to improving production on Africa’s farms. A side event entitled “Reinventing Agriculture: Getting it Right for Rio+20 and Beyond” was hosted with several partners.
US President and India Prime Minister recognize the evergreen concept
Soon after the Hague meeting, President Barack Obama of the United States and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India both recognized the evergreen concept in their speeches on 8 November during a State visit. Building on the historic legacy of cooperation between  India and the United States during the Green Revolution, the leaders  decided to work together to develop, test and replicate transformative technologies to extend food security as part of an Evergreen Revolution.  Efforts will focus on providing farmers the means to improve agricultural productivity, which complements closely the Centre’s work on Evergreen Agriculture in India.
Seeing the entire spectrum - COP16
Thousands of participants are expected at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancún, Mexico 29 Nov – 10 Dec. Among other activities, World Agroforestry will be hosting a side event on REDD readiness and whole landscape accounting at the Convention, as well as a Learning Event at Forest Day 4 on 5 Dec on REDD and the agricultural drivers of deforestation. Current efforts to obtain commitment and create incentives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD) are not clear about what types of forests are targeted and how they relate to ‘non-forest’ land uses. A whole landscape accounting approach is needed in the long term to address these drivers within REDD+.

North Korea opens its doors to 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.
Satoyama and Landcare on show in Japan
Livelihoods in harmony with landscapes and biodiversity, and community action to tackle natural resource problems were the focus of the Centre’s involvement in 10th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan in October. World Agroforestry Centre staff  were was actively involved in promoting two unique concepts. During the meeting, the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative was launched, involving the United Nations University (Tokyo), the World Agroforestry Centre, the United Nations Environment Program and Bioversity International. The partnership, which is funded by the Ministry of Environment in Japan, aims to share and disseminate information on the merit and opportunities of Satoyama, thereby expanding the concept of harmonizing livelihoods and biodiversity.

Landcare is a concept that started in Australia in the 1980s as communities coming together to tackle common natural resource problems and influence policy. It has since spread across continents to 14 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and North America. During the Nagoya meeting, a side event entitled Building a coalition toward an International Year of Landcare demonstrated how this community-driven approach can have a very real impact on the environment, particularly at the landscape level. Landcare International is coordinated by the World Agroforestry Centre.
A reinvention of agriculture is needed to meet global challenges
World renowned scientists have called for a radical transformation in the agriculture sector to cope with climate change and food security, and to transition towards sustainability. Speaking at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa USA, Dr Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre and Professor MS Swaminathan, 1987 World Food Prize Laureate and founder of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, teamed up to promote what they call a ‘fresh out of the box solution’ which is already dramatically improving crop yields while storing significant carbon. Swaminathan noted that “novel solutions and technological advances must be married with ecological thinking to drive a truly sustainable agricultural revolution”.
Making agroforestry happen through extension agents in Amazon
Extension Agents in Amazon
The five Agroforestry Training Courses have trained over 150 extension agents and other related professionals from all Amazon countries. Photo: Paulo Alves / World Agroforestry Centre

“I’m sure that all we’ve learned will be implemented in Ecuador to enhance the livelihoods of the Amazon people, including social benefits,” says Alexis Matute, technician from Ecuador’s National Institute of Agricultural Research (INAP, as per the Spanish acronym). Alexis works in the World Agroforestry Centre’s Coffee and Cocoa Program, and was pleased to be one of the 30 participants of the 5th International Training Course in Agroforestry Technologies, which took place in Brazil between 18 Oct and 5 Nov 2010.

Organized by World Agroforestry Latin America and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa, as per the Portuguese acronym), with the support of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC, as per the Portuguese acronym), the course is part of Japan’s Third Country Training Program, held in developing countries that have the necessary infrastructure to support development cooperation with surrounding nations.

More than 150 extension agents and other related professionals from all Amazon countries have been trained on the five courses. The objective is to enable them to plan, disseminate and adapt agroforestry technologies that can generate impact by the reduction, mitigation and reversal of natural resources degradation, and also contribute to the enhancement of local farmers’ livelihoods.

Through this event, people like John Jairo Moreno, a Colombian forest engineer who works closely with local farmers, can “learn and deepen knowledge through research – and field visits – on the potential that agroforestry has as a sustainable land use alternative to the reality in the Amazon region.” According to him, there are however big challenges, since each country has different cultures, and thus multiple perspectives on how to manage natural resources. “Now we have to take this technical and theoretical legacy to our countries in order to guarantee that agroforestry has the support of public policy, be it related to social, economic or environmental development”, he says.

Aiming at giving participants a real experience of the knowledge necessary to implement agroforestry systems in their countries, this year’s program featured more than 30 lectures and theoretical classes, in addition to more than 20 practical sessions and field visits, led by a number of forestry, agriculture, agroforestry and land use experts, among others – including Marcos R. Tito, World Agroforestry LA’s Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change expert. “The balance between theory and practice was perfect. I’d say it will succeed in contributing to have this knowledge replicated in other countries because it’s essential that ‘students’ don’t get stuck in classrooms nor in the field, but have parallel experiences in both,” says Professor Renato Grisi, a Brazilian agroforestry expert who attended the Course as an observer.

Thanks to the success of this initiative, Japan and Brazil plan on extending this partnership, as the initial 5-edition event, which was concluded in 2010, can be renewed through the next years. If a new phase is confirmed, the Centre will continue providing scientific support which has, in the words of Mr. Moreno, helped to assure that “the knowledge 30 participants acquire is transferred to 30 thousand every year.”

Story by Paulo Alves

More than just forests
More than Just Forests
Since millions of Nepalese smallholder farmers interact with land in a variety of ways for multiple objectives, a simple distinction of ‘forest’ or ‘non-forest’ has little relevance. Photo: Beria Leimona, in Kulekhani, Nepal

New Centre research from Nepal adds to the push for a more inclusive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nepal, a kingdom that was the birthplace of the Buddha and is home to eight of the world’s highest mountains, has been undergoing a turbulent political struggle for many years but in many ways shows a typical socio-ecology for a developing and forested country. It experiences significant deforestation, population pressure, food insecurity, natural disasters, weak governance and conflict over land tenure.

Furthermore, Nepal is vulnerable not only to climate variability but also to international schemes to provide rewards purely for the conservation of forests, both of which researchers have shown could negatively affect livelihoods for the majority of the population, who are mostly subsistence farmers relying heavily on forests.

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, Forest Action and the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins (with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) have demonstrated that Nepal would benefit little from any scheme that limited itself to rewards for conserving forests, largely because of the nation’s existing community forest management schemes that involve around a third of the population of 27 million and the complicated nature of land tenure.

Rather, the researchers (Laxman Joshi, Naya Sharma, P Ojha, DB Khatri, Rajendra Pradhan, Bhaskar Karky, Ujjwal Pradhan and S Karki) concluded that a scheme that reduced emissions from all land uses (REALU) would be much more beneficial to the people of Nepal and also achieve international goals to reduce the rate of global warming and climate change.

“A critical issue is that since millions of Nepalese smallholder farmers interact with land in a variety of ways for multiple objectives, a simple distinction of ‘forest’ or ‘non-forest’ has little relevance,” commented Meine van Noordwyk, Chief Science Advisor. “It would be much more effective for the international community to develop a scheme in collaboration with the government and people of Nepal that provided rewards for sustainable land use, with conservation where net biological productivity would be enhanced, while also allowing flexibility for local forest owners to adapt to changing conditions. To do that, we need to consider greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration with all types of land use, not just forests.”

Discussions and decision-making processes in Kathmandu—within the national government and between it and international organisations and donors—on REDD, adaptation and climate change, are still difficult to access by the poor and disadvantaged groups. Consequently, their needs may not be reflected in national policy, which is developed through a highly structured process mediated by the underlying political economy of donor nations and agencies. However, since the concept of reducing emissions from deforestation has gradually evolved to include forest degradation and also conservation, the researchers expect that the REALU framework may eventually be adopted as the better option in climate science and policy.

Story by Rob Finlayson
Transformations is produced by the World Agroforestry Centre Communications Unit.
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