By Elizabeth Kahurani
At the Global Landscapes Forum held in Paris Dec 2015, Dr Peter Minang of the World Agroforestry Centre was one of the speakers at the Nature and Climate Change pavilion in a session that discussed what it takes for climate smart landscapes to create impact at scale.
Minang presented findings of a study that worked out four 30-year development and emission reduction scenarios in Efoulan Municipality, South Cameroon. The area was important for this study as it covers 83000 hectares of tropical humid forest zone most of which is targeted for a government rural development plan through cocoa farms extension.
The first development scenario looked at the rate of greenhouse gas emission in a business as usual case where forest conversion and land uses continued on as in the past without any intervention; the second scenario considered rate of emissions under the government program of cacao extension; scenario three focused on sustainable forest management through activities such as reforestation and reduced impact logging; while scenario four looked at a combination of sustainable forest management and cacao extension through input intensification and integration of timber and fruit trees on the farms.
Sustainable forest management emerged as the option with the highest potential for reducing emissions, followed by the scenario combining sustainable forest practices with cacao extension. The second scenario of extending cacao without a plan for emission reduction presented the most threat of high carbon emissions, even worse than in the business as usual scenario.
“Going by the government strategy plan of cacao extensions can potentially increase the CO2 emission between 2012 and 2016 by 4million tons,” said Minang. He explained that scenario four presents the best case of a climate smart landscape that offers development while at the same time offering adaptation-mitigation options.
“We experience carbon sequestration by integrating cacao extension (as the cacao trees absorb carbon once they grow) with intensification of cocoa farms, and sustainable forest management. At the same time, farmers benefit from the sale of cacao; as well as from timber and fruit trees on the farms,” he said.
If taken into consideration by the local municipality in their development plans, implications of this study at Efoulan present a good example of climate smart landscape planning at the local level that can benefit communities while protecting the environment. It also offers lessons that can inform similar development plans at the national level including REDD+ initiatives and national plans to reduce green house gas emissions.
For details and figures from the study refer to policy brief: Linking development pathways and emission reduction at local levels: An analysis of feasibility in the Efoulan municipality, Cameroon