By Olivia E. Freeman
Trees on farms, -Agroforestry, provides woodfuel, climate change mitigation and livelihoods; holds potential for significant contributions to REDD+ in the DRC
The two main drivers of deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are slash-and-burn agriculture and woodfuel demand. These are especially pronounced in the Kinshasa woodfuel supply basin, the area surrounding the capital city supplying 77% of the woodfuel. In this ‘hotspot’ of deforestation agroforestry has been identified as one practice that can address both drivers by acting as a source of woodfuel and facilitating sustainable intensification through improved soil quality. Additionally trees planted in agroforestry systems can act as a carbon sink and produce additional livelihood benefits through diversification of income generating activities such as producing fruit from fruit trees and honey.
If smallholder Acacia-cassava based agroforestry systems were adopted within fallow areas in the Kinshasa woodfuel supply basin they could sequester 11-99 million tones carbon dioxide equivalent over a 30-year period. Such activities have the potential to make significant contributions to the DRC’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program. Over this same time period 4 million tones charcoal can be produced resulting in up to 7% of sustainably sourced woodfuel from the supply basin. Combined with the adoption of more efficient charcoal cookstoves and charcoal production methods this could increase this proportion to nearly 13%.
Given the significant potential of agroforestry to deliver multiple benefits, promotion of these systems should be made both within and outside a REDD+ framework. REDD+ can act as an enabling framework for the adoption of agroforestry systems providing financial, political and technical support, but including smallholder-scaled activities faces challenges in economies of scales. Furthermore income from carbon finance at an assumed price of 5 USD was found not to be enough to incentivize the adoption of agroforestry systems alone.
Diversifying systems, increasing the scale of production and growing trees for longer periods within such systems can increase the delivery of mitigation and adaption benefits. Improving infrastructure and access to markets, strengthening land use rights and providing access to finance can all help to promote the adoption of such systems. In this process government and other actors need to co-invest in smallholder agroforestry.
At UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, this study highlights the tremendous potential of agroforestry to complement REDD+ and related Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) strategies at the heart of discussions in the negotiations. There are opportunities to draw from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other INDC-related funding to complement REDD+ and agriculture-related finance for agroforestry in the service of multiple climate (adaptation and mitigation) and livelihood objectives. This study lays the foundation for agroforestry deployment in REDD+ in the DRC as well as more generally within climate change, multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and low-emission development frameworks in Africa.