Call for contributions: Trees and farming
Trees are important to farming in that they provide fruit, fodder and wood products, but they also provide many other services, both in their immediate environment and elsewhere (for instance in downstream catchments).
One of the local benefits of trees was described at the recent Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, which took place in The Hague, where scientists presented "Evergreen Agriculture". This approach, which involves integrating fertilizer trees into farm systems, has been shown to have the potential to double crop yields. Yet it is not always easy for farmers to adopt such an approach. For example, farmers without rights of tenure will not feel motivated to invest in planting trees that may take years to mature. In the next issue of Farming Matters we plan to look at the actual and potential benefits of agroforestry, and at how to maximise these.
At the same time, we shall also consider the wider context, and explore the relationships between small-scale farmers and trees and forested areas in a changing world. REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) projects, for example, are currently being presented by some as an effective way of stopping deforestation and paying the local population for the services provided by their forests. Yet, critics say these mechanisms are little more than an expedient way for rich countries to buy their way out of their obligations to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) is another mechanism used to reward farmers for providing environmental services. Here too, there are different views and experiences about their effectiveness and fairness. What do small-scale farmers think about such mechanisms? Do they benefit from them, or do such schemes imply losing control over their resource base?
We welcome your suggestions and contributions as articles, photographs, contacts of people you think have expertise in this area, or ideas for other topics you think we should address.
Please write to Jorge Chavez-Tafur, editor, (j.chavez-tafur[at]ileia.org) before March 10, 2011.