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Agrarian change in tropical forests: A change for the better?

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Agricultural expansion has resulted in losses to habitats, forests, ecosystems and biological diversity. Socio-ecological research methods were used to assess the livelihood impacts of agrarian change across the forest transition in six tropical landscapes in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Early findings suggest the transition from a forested landscape to a more agrarian-dominated system does not immediately result in better livelihood outcomes, and there may be unintended consequences.

This presentation was given by Terry Sunderland at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conversation.

Published in: Environment
  • Thank You Mr Sunderland for the intersting work with sad results. I am actively seeking likeminded people willing to cooperate with smallholders with this objective : Improve their techniques with permaculture in order to grow more cash crops inside their existing exploitations. Starting with a pilot project, where sustainable organic farming in a forest garden can be illustrated practically, combined with tree nurseries to grow NFT, fruit trees, woody wines to smallholders. Intention : reduce slash-burn agriculture and offer practical alternatives to industrial monoculture. Additionally introduce locally produced solar kitchen to reduce logging for fire-wood. Where is a constructive forum or blog where these concepts can be elaborated ?
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Agrarian change in tropical forests: A change for the better?

  1. 1. Agrarian change in tropical forests: A change for the better? Terry Sunderland & team 22 June 2016
  2. 2.  Agricultural expansion remains major driver of deforestation  Transformation of natural systems has resulted in significant environmental degradation  Global food system is in crisis (Global Nutrition Report 2016)  Belief that biodiversity conservation and agriculture cannot co-exist  Ca.60% of world’s food originates from diverse small-holder farming systems in complex landscapes  Agro-ecological approaches being advocated (e.g. IPBES 2016)  Need strong evidence-based for implementation Context
  3. 3. Agrarian Change Project: Research goals  An integrated landscape approach to explore the livelihood and dietary implications of land-use change and agrarian change processes in six multi- functional landscapes.  Provide insights into how globally conceived land-use strategies (e.g. land sharing/land sparing trajectories) manifest locally and how they are embedded into local histories, culture, and political and market dynamics.
  4. 4. Natural vegetation ‘Secondary’ vegetation Agricultural land Agrarian change in tropical landscapes Agricultural modification Treecover Photo credits: CIFOR
  5. 5. Land sharing Photo credits: CIFOR Agrarian change in tropical landscapes Treecover Natural vegetation ‘Secondary’ vegetation Agricultural land Land sparing
  6. 6. Study Sites
  7. 7. FOREST (CONTROL) ZONE 1 ZONE 3ZONE 2 Agricultural modification (simplification and intensification of commodities) Treecover Experimental Design A landscape-level approach, with a nested 3-level hierarchical design: 1. A landscape exhibiting changing land use practices and agrarian change 2. Three land use ‘zones’ in each landscape, a gradient of agricultural modification 3. Villages or settlements within each zone 1 2 3
  8. 8. Photo credits: CIFOR Experimental Design FOREST (CONTROL) ZONE 1 ZONE 3ZONE 2 Agricultural modification (simplification and intensification of commodities) Treecover Subsistence farming, high dependency on forest products A landscape-level approach, with a nested 3-level hierarchical design: 1. A landscape exhibiting changing land use practices and agrarian change 2. Three land use ‘zones’ in each landscape, a gradient of agricultural modification 3. Villages or settlements within each zone 1 2 3
  9. 9. Photo credits: CIFOR Experimental Design FOREST (CONTROL) ZONE 1 ZONE 3ZONE 2 Agricultural modification (simplification and intensification of commodities) Treecover E.g. Subsistence farming, high dependency on forest resources E.g. Rubber agroforestry system Subsistence farming, high dependency on forest products Extensive coffee agroforesty A landscape-level approach, with a nested 3-level hierarchical design: 1. A landscape exhibiting changing land use practices and agrarian change 2. Three land use ‘zones’ in each landscape, a gradient of agricultural modification 3. Villages or settlements within each zone 1 2 3
  10. 10. A landscape-level approach, with a nested 3-level hierarchical design: 1. A landscape exhibiting changing land use practices and agrarian change 2. Three land use ‘zones’ in each landscape, a gradient of agricultural modification 3. Villages or settlements within each zone Experimental Design FOREST (CONTROL) ZONE 1 ZONE 3ZONE 2 Agricultural modification (simplification and intensification of commodities) Treecover E.g. Subsistence farming, high dependency on forest resources E.g. Rubber agroforestry system E.g. Oil palm monoculture Subsistence farming, high dependency on forest products Extensive coffee agroforesty Intensive oil palm monoculture 1 2 3
  11. 11. Field Methods In each zone the following methods are used: Household Surveys Focus Group Discussions Key Informant Interviews Farm Productivity Surveys Biodiversity Surveys Yield measurements Farm inputs (e.g. fertilizer, labour) Production targets Resource flow mapping Wealth ranking Food / cash calendars Nutrition assessments Ecosystem service mapping Community perceptions Tree plots Bird point counts Invertebrate trapping METHODS BiodiversityRelative poverty Nutrition Food securityEcosystem services Livelihoods Agricultural production RESPONSES
  12. 12. Study site: Kapuas Hulu, Kalimantan, Indonesia Primary forest Rubber agroforestry Oil palm plantation Oil palm concession
  13. 13. Study site: Kapuas Hulu, Kalimantan, Indonesia Primary forest Rubber agroforestry Oil palm plantation Oil palm concession
  14. 14. Study site: Kapuas Hulu, Kalimantan, Indonesia Primary forest Rubber agroforestry Oil palm plantation Oil palm concession
  15. 15. Study site: Kapuas Hulu, Kalimantan, Indonesia Primary forest Rubber agroforestry Oil palm plantation Oil palm concession
  16. 16. Study site: Kapuas Hulu, Kalimantan, Indonesia Primary forest Rubber agroforestry Oil palm plantation Oil palm concession Photo credits: Dominic Rowland
  17. 17. Photo credits: CIFOR Initial results…..
  18. 18. Remote sensing data
  19. 19. Country-level results: impacts on poverty and livelihoods  Indonesia: Major dietary transition towards processed foods which has major impact on nutrition and health status  Bangladesh: Agroforestry seen as an important livelihoods strategy but only for those with secure tenure  Ethiopia: Loss of forest has led to increased poverty due to loss of common grazing land and access to fuelwood  Cameroon: Annexation of land for oil palm concessions has resulted in land displacement and encroachment into protected areas. Threatens future regional food security.  Zambia: Heavy policy emphasis on agriculture for food security at expense of forests. Loss of safety-net function  Burkina Faso: Recurring droughts are increasingly common and income from forest products (timber, fuelwood and NTFPs) are important safety-net to purchase food during dry periods. Continued forest loss will further jeopardise future adaptation strategies
  20. 20. Conclusions  Across study regions, loss of forest to agriculture does not necessarily result in direct livelihoods benefits  Loss of forest has direct impact on rural coping strategies  Diets inevitably transition with access to income and markets, but not necessarily for the better  Landscape mosaics are better at achieving multiple benefits, including ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation, so landscape configuration is important  Land sparing/sharing paradigm does not necessarily play out in reality as it implies some level of “grand design”  Contribution of forest products has been dramatically underestimated for both diets and income
  21. 21. Recent key publications
  22. 22. www.landscapes.org www.cifor.org @TCHSunderland

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