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In plain view of the mountainous terrain of Belize’s most southern district, Toledo, farmers of Trio Village have been facing a changing environment. Ya’Axche Conservation Trust approached the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to assist the villagers with combating threats that were exacerbated by climate related events. This involved deforestation due to lack of water, insufficient arable land and forest fires which threatened crops. The main initiative involved attaining land, donating cacao seedlings and providing technical assistance and training for climate resilient crops.
The Head of the Project Development & Management Unit at the CCCCC explained why the Centre became involved in the initiative. According to Dr. Mark Bynoe, “It’s not a case that these issues are new, it’s a case where these issues are likely to be exacerbated with a change in climate regime. So with that focus, we looked at projects within the Centre that we had and which could finance this particular initiative. We were able to find $250,000 US under the UK-DFID programme. So for the last two years we were able to fund this initiative in Trio Village.”
The partnership of UK-DFID, CCCCC and Ya’Axche came to fruition when the Forest Department granted a unique concession to allow agro-forestry within the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve. The implementation of this community forest concession resulted in 936 acres being leased to the project. The acres have been divided into sub plots for organic cacao farming and the concession includes an annual crop section for vegetables, plantain and honey harvesting.
Isabel Rash, Farmer, Trio Farmers Cacao Association
The project, completed at the end of April 2016, is having an impact on the lives of farmers like Isabel Rash. Rash admits the gruelling task is benefiting his future. While in the company of his family in Trio Village, Rash said “For the first six months we prepared our nursery with 28 to 30,000 cacao saplings. We eventually planted 250 plants per acre. It’s hard but we are doing it because in the future we don’t want to work for somebody else.”
“We want to work for ourselves. From there, when we start to produce more, my thoughts are that I can maybe just be a boss and have workers beside me…It’s five of us in my family. It’s my wife, my 14-year and 2- year old sons and me. I’m taking care of a little girl from my sister-in-law and my aim is to give them an education. That’s why I’m working hard. I want them to be different in the future.”
There is also gender considerations as 10 females are members of the Trio Farmers Cacao Association. The women have agro-forestry plots for planting cacao and a few of them are also involved in bee-keeping to harvest honey. 15 year old Cordelia Cabnal’s formal education ended after she completed primary school.
Cordelia Cabnal, Bee Keeper, Trio Farmers Cacao Association
Cabnal says, “The first time I harvested about 25 pounds and the second harvest is about 35 pounds. I am happy because I see that honey is good and now I have three hives. I want more boxes. I want to have more hives. To me it’s good because here it’s money. That’s what Mr. Sho says and he told us not to give up because this is money.”
Isodoro Sho, who trained the group in bee keeping, believes that, “In the future they will be the one showing the village people. The ladies that got involved will realize this is not only about cacao or pineapple but about saving a part of the rainforest.”
Christina Garcia, Executive Director of the Ya’Axche Conservation Trust
In response to how the Trio farmers plan to proceed following the closure of the project, the Executive Director of the Ya’Axche Conservation Trust, Christina Garcia says the members have been waiting for access to land for some years now. And now that they have it, Ya’Axche has observed full commitment from the farmers. Garcia noted, “It’s a direct result of the project. We’ve seen progress still happening after the closure of the project. Farmers are still planting their cacao and doing their under-brushing on their own. They’ve learned a lot from the training they received during the implementation of the project.”
The farmers, according to Isabel Rash, are learning new methods. Rash says, “We need to change because when we farmed from years past, we used pesticides and we burned. We can kill our own-selves smelling that pesticide and smoke. When we fall (trees) close to the river the river/creek, it gets dry.”
As annual crops such as bananas, beans, and plantains are being harvested, cacao planting could be increased by 25,000 to ensure farmers have a sustainable income. The Project directly impacts no less than 200 individuals that are part of the farming families.
Shade houses for alternative crops
Dr. Mark Bynoe and Isabel Rash
According to Dr. Bynoe, “We had to construct shade houses for protected agriculture. Why is this necessary? The whole concept of agriculture in that area is to have crops at varied periods of time. So the need for the shade houses is to pursue some cash crops farming in the immediate future. Revenue will be generated and the farmers will begin to see some returns as annual crops are maturing such as bananas, beans, plantains and so forth. And further down the road is the cacao plant. We have planted 25,000 cacao seedlings and we’re hoping to increase that to about 50,000 going forward, so we have a sustainable income to start with and farmers are less prone to deforest areas. It helps with soil protection. It helps with the integrity of aquifers and rivers, vital for the very crops they are cultivating. In total, we are looking at an entire system approach from the time they started farming to the time we withdraw. So that at the end of the day we are participating in poverty alleviation.”
Dr. Bynoe is very hopeful as he points out, “This is a pilot for the Centre but we are engaged in a number of adaptation initiatives. If this turns out to be a success story, if this translated into other areas of Belize, we can take it to other parts of the Caribbean. We do expect with the cooperation we have seen from the Ya’Axche Conservation Trust, the efforts from the farmers themselves, the support from Government, the Ministry of Agriculture who is providing extension services, the Ministry of Forestry who made the concession available, that we are indeed moving in the right direction.”
Images of the project: Trio Farmers Cacao Growers Photo Album
Agriculture and food security are exposed to impacts and risks related to the changing climate in several ways. On the other hand, agriculture and food production activities are also responsible for part of the greenhouse gas emissions that in turn cause climate change.
According to the latest conclusions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture, together with deforestation and other human actions that change the way land is used (codename: AFOLU, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use), accounts for about a quarter of emissions contributing to climate change.
GHG emissions from farming activities consist mainly of non-CO2 gases: methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) produced by bacterial decomposition processes in cropland and grassland soils and by livestock’s digestive systems.
The latest estimates released in 2014 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization [pdf] showed that emissions from crop and livestock production and fisheries have nearly doubled over the past fifty years, from 2.7 billion tonnes CO2e in 1961 to more than 5.3 billion tonnes CO2e in 2011.
During the last ten years covered by FAO data (2001-2011) agricultural emissions increased by 14 percent (primarily in developing countries that expanded their agricultural outputs), while almost in the same years (2001-2010) net GHG emissions due to land use change and deforestation decreased by around 10 percent (due to reduced levels of deforestation and increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon removed from the atmosphere as a result of carbon sequestration in forest sinks).
The current situation, as highlighted by a recent study led by FAO and published in Global Change Biology, sees farming activities more responsible for climate pollution than deforestation. Even thought emissions from agriculture and land use change are growing at a slower rate than emissions from fossil fuels, emissions reduction achieved thanks to better forest and soil management are cancelled out by a more intensive and energy-consuming food production systems. The FAO estimated that without increased efforts to address and reduce them, GHG emissions from the sector could increase by an additional 30 percent by 2050.
In a recent study published on Nature Climate Change, scientists pointed out that “the intensification of agriculture (the Green Revolution, in which much greater crop yield per unit area was achieved by hybridization, irrigation and fertilization) during the past five decades is a driver of changes in the seasonal characteristics of the global carbon cycle”.
As shown in the graph below, livestock-related emissions from enteric fermentation and manure contributed nearly two-thirds of the total GHG agricultural emissions produced in the last years, with synthetic fertilizers and rice cultivation being the other major sources.
According to another report by FAO (“Tackling climate change through livestock”, accessible here in pdf), the livestock sector is estimated to emit 7.1 billion tonnes CO2-eq per year, with beef and cattle milk production accounting for the majority of the sector’s emissions (41 and 19 percent respectively).
Emission intensities (i.e. emissions per unit of product) are highest for beef (almost 300 kg CO2-eq per kilogram of protein produced), followed by meat and milk from small ruminants (165 and 112kg CO2-eq.kg respectively). Cow milk, chicken products and pork have lover global average emission intensities (below 100 CO2-eq/kg). However, emission intensity widely varies at sub-global level due to the different practices and inputs to production used around the world. According to FAO, the livestock sector plays an important role in climate change and has a high potential for emission reduction.
Together with increasing conversion of land to agricultural activities and the use of fertilizers, increasing energy use from fossil fuels is one of the main drivers that boosted agricultural emissions in the last decades. FAO estimated that in 2010 emissions from energy uses in food production sectors (including emissions from fossil fuel energy needed i.e. to power machinery, irrigation pumps and fishing vessels) amounted to 785 million tonnes CO2e.
FAO latest data show that in the past two decades around 40 percent of GHG agricultural outputs (including emissions from energy use) are based in Asia. The Americas has the second highest GHG emissions (close to 25 percent), followed by Africa, Europe and Oceania.
According to FAO, since 1990 the top ten emitters are: China, India, US, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, Argentina, Pakistan and Sudan.
The need for climate-smart agriculture and food production systems becomes even more compelling when considering the shocking level of waste within the global food system. According to the first FAO study to focus on the environmental impacts of food wastage, released in 2013 (accessible here in pdf), each year food that is produced and gone to waste amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes.
Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent released into the atmosphere per year, to which must be added significant amounts of agricultural areas (1.4 billion hectares, globally) and water (250km3) used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.
How to meet global food needs (with global population projected to reach 9 billion in 2050) without overexploiting soil and water, and with lower emissions contributing to climate change (whose impacts in turn affect water and food security) is the greatest farming challenge of of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
Credit: Best Climate Practices
Over 80 percent of the Caribbean Sea is polluted from land-based sources and activities such as deforestation, untreated waste-water, oil spills, agricultural runoff, farm waste and litter. This affects livelihoods, health, economies and ecosystems.
To address these problems, pollution experts from across the Caribbean met recently at two meetings.
The seventh steering committee meeting for the Regional Activity Centre — Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean (RAC-REMPEITC). That May 20-12 meeting in Curacao focused on an oil spill protocol for the region.
The second meeting was of the scientific, technical and advisory committee (STAC), to the protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS STAC 2).The June 1-14 meeting in Nicaragua, which was hosted by UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CEP), was being staged for the second year.
Key recommendations included:
UNEP CEP and the government of Curacao agreed to the continued hosting of the regional activity centre in Curacao that supports the protocol concerning cooperation in combating oil spills in the wider Caribbean region (oil spills protocol).
UNEP CEP and partners to promote the integration of oil spill disaster planning into national disaster planning processes by working with regional disaster agencies such as Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)
UNEP CEP to work with oil spill regional centre to provide technical support to countries affected by oil pollution including dispersants and rehabilitating areas contaminated with oil.
UNEP CEP to develop stronger partnerships with the GPNM (global partnership on nutrient management) to improve nutrient management within the wider Caribbean region.
UNEP CEP and partner agencies to develop activities which will enhance the implementation of the LBS Protocol with specific reference to ship generated waste, air pollution and pre-treatment of industrial effluent found in domestic waste-water.
Christopher Corbin, programme officer for the assessment and management of environmental pollution at UNEP CEP, noted that these meetings were critical to evaluate the status of pollution in the region and to identify future priorities.
Nelson Andrade Colmenares, the regional coordinator for UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme, stressed that “currently 50 percent of coral reefs are in decline within the region.” However, he added that “with continued stakeholder engagement, cooperation and action this trend can be reversed allowing the region to prosper for generations to come.”
The recommendations from the technical meetings will be presented to the thirteenth meeting of the contracting parties to the convention for the protection and development of the wider Caribbean region, which will be held in Cartagena, Colombia.
In this International Year of Small Island Developing States, ocean, seas and biodiversity have been listed as priority areas. Management of pollution can be addressed by education, stakeholder engagement and a commitment to tackling these issues and it is anticipated that these regional and global efforts will result in action.
Credit: Caribbean News Now!
The Fifth IPCC Assessment Report has at last been completed and made public. Since April 15th the (third) volume Mitigation of Climate Change has been made available, concluding the triad of the most awaited publication from the world of climate change science and policy at the international level. The only piece missing to complete the work of the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report on Climate Change is the Synthesis Report, the document summarizing the three volumes published in recent months, which will be approved and published in late October 2014 in Copenhagen.
The first volume confirmed human responsibility for climate change, the second outlined the impacts and risks that have and will come of it. IPCC’s third working group, of which I am one of the Vice Presidents, is trying to find solutions to the problem of future climate change through appropriate mitigation policies, namely the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Prepared by 235 authors from 57 countries, the third volume of the report integrates more than 38,000 comments received by more than 800 expert reviewers in the various stages of writing and revision, to answer this question: what can and should we do to limit climate change as much as possible in the coming decades?
The Point We Are At
One of the main messages emerging from the work is that, despite the new awareness and mitigation efforts put in place over the past decades, the emissions of greenhouse gases have increased more rapidly between 2000 and 2010 than in any other decade: the rate of emission growth of the past decade has been 2.2% per year, while in the period between 1970 and 2000 it averaged 1.3% per year. 78% of emissions derive from the use of fossil fuels and industrial processes. The forestry sector is the only one experiencing a decline in emissions, due to the reduction of deforestation and hence an increased capacity by forests to absorb carbon dioxide.
What We Can Expect
In the absence of more mitigation efforts than at present, the emissions increase (driven by population and economic growth in developing countries and insufficiently offset by significant improvements in energy efficiency in developed countries) will lead to an increase in average global temperature in 2100 of between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees centigrade in comparison with pre-industrial levels.
It is clear that if we continue on this path we will get adrift inexorably from the so-called “2-degree” target formalized in the COP 16 negotiations in Cancun (2010): the two-degree rise in temperature over preindustrial levels is recognized internationally as the threshold not to be exceeded if we are to comply with Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which stabilizes global emissions to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” But the Fifth IPCC Report also points out that this objective has become very difficult if not almost impossible to achieve by now, in the light of the levels of concentration of greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere and expected in the coming years.
What Must Be Done And When
To close the 2-degree target gap, emissions must peak off as soon as possible and then decline by 40-70% within mid-century, reaching a total of zero in 2100. We need to act now, because any delay takes us adrift of any chance of a green transition that allows the decoupling of economic growth from the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and significantly increases the mitigation costs. Mitigation options include actions for energy efficiency and decarbonization (renewable energy sources, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage of CO2 (CCS), bio-energy, reduction of deforestation and forest management, reduction and management of waste, carbon market, carbon taxation, reduction or removal of subsidies for fossil fuels, and overall changes in lifestyle). The IPCC report gives no recommendation for the most appropriate measures to be taken but limits itself to analyzing them all accurately, in order to provide policymakers with the tools to make informed, effective decisions.
The Ideal World
The optimal situation for dealing successfully and efficiently with the climate challenge is one in which all the countries of the world implement immediate mitigation actions, in which there is a single carbon price in a worldwide emissions market, and in which a combination of all the technological solutions and policies listed above is available and usable in all sectors (production and use of energy, industry, transport, agriculture, forestry, urban development). In this ideal world the costs of mitigation might be limited. But unfortunately this ideal world doesn’t exist….
Costs, Benefits And Investments
In an ideal world scenario of mitigation as described above, one that meets the two-degree target, the costs are estimated at between 1 and 4% of worldwide GDP in 2030 and between 2 and 6% in 2050. These are only the direct costs, which do not take into account the benefits that would result from maintaining a climate more similar to today’s, from having reduced air pollution, lower impacts on ecosystems, water and land use, as well as greater energy security. But the costs will increase rapidly if the mitigation measures are applied late, or if some of the currently available technologies (nuclear or CCS for example) were not fully applicable, or if the resources for necessary investments were not forthcoming….
For the first time, the IPCC Report also assesses the investments needed to achieve the two-degree target: in the next two decades (2010-2029) investments in clean energy production technologies will have to increase by 100%, that is redouble, while investments in fossil fuels decrease by 20%.
Also An Ethical Question
From the data presented in the report, which will be used as a scientific basis in international negotiations under the UNFCCC in the coming years, there are striking inequalities in per capita emissions of greenhouse gases: high-income countries have per capita emissions even nine times higher than those of the poorer countries. The issue of climate change is not, therefore, just an environmental issue but also a matter of economic and social equity that forces us to face the impacts that the climate challenge poses, which are more severe in the developing (and hence more vulnerable) countries. Most of the growth in emissions that has taken place since 1970 is the responsibility of the industrialized countries, associated with their economic development. The recent rise in emissions, and that foreseen for the future, is instead linked largely to the regions in the developing world, which are growing at a very rapid pace. Hence it is necessary to establish a cooperation between countries that implies an ethical, responsible commitment on the part of those that have so far contributed most to the problem, i.e. the developed countries, and a likewise ethical, responsible commitment on the part of those that in the future are destined to exceed the tolerable limit of human interference with the climate system.
US$4.43 billion has been pledged by 30 donor countries for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support developing countries’ efforts over the next four years to prevent degradation of the global environment.
The announcement, made at the Fourth Meeting for the Sixth Replenishment of GEF Trust Fund, held in Geneva, Switzerland, 16-17 April 2014, further stated that the funding will support projects in over 140 countries to tackle a broad range of threats to the global environment. These threats include climate change, deforestation, land degradation, extinction of species, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to oceans and freshwater resources.
The GEF is the main global mechanism to support developing countries’ to take action to fulfill their commitments under the world’s major multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
“This is a significant development. We welcome the efforts of the GEF Secretariat and the commitments of donor governments to replenish the GEF capital and thus allow the GEF to continue to serve as the financial mechanism of the CBD and other MEAs,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary. “This will ensure that the GEF maintains its support for developing countries and countries with economies in transitions to support the implementation of their commitments under the CDB, in particular the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for 2011-2020 and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans and associated national targets.”
“However, this still serves as a reminder that donor countries failed to fulfil the target set at the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) in Hyderabad, India, to double the international financial flows by 2015 relative to the 2006-2010 average,” underlined Dias.
“This means that we have missed the opportunity to significantly increase the investment on biodiversity to increase the efforts for achieving the implementation of the Aichi Targets,” said Mr. Dias. “This limited effort of multilateral funding, which represents a 30% increase over the baseline of 2006-2010, puts undue pressure on bilateral funding, domestic funding and private funding to compensate for this shortcoming to meet the estimated funding gap if we hope to achieve the agreed Aichi Targets by 2020,” he said.
The conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity can provide solutions to a range of societal challenges. For example, protecting ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services by poor and vulnerable groups are an essential part of poverty eradication.
Failing to pay due attention to the global biodiversity agenda risks compromising the capacity of countries to eradicate poverty and to enhance human well-being, as well as their means to adapt to climate change, reduce their vulnerability to extreme natural disasters, to ensure food security, to ensure access to water and to promote access to health.
“Without adequate funding for the global biodiversity agenda the continual availability of biological resources and ecosystems services will be compromised and impact the capacity of the business sector to continue to operate and supply the market with products, services and employment,” said Mr. Dias. “I encourage all countries to ramp up their contributions complementary to the GEF Trust Fund to ensure a better and more sustainable future for us all.”
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a subsidiary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 166 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit: http://www.cbd.int.
For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at email@example.com; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit: United Nations Decade on Biodiversity