Landscape Level Resilience

Value chain programs for farm performance and productivity can be integrated with landscape efforts to preserve forests, improve and manage water sheds and sequester carbon.  Juan Pablo Soliz from Hivos and the SAFE Platform sat down with Tatiana Ramos from Conservation International, Hugh Aprile from Catholic Relief Services, and Elizabeth Hernández-Vásquez from Unidad Ecológica para el Sector Café Oaxaqueño S.C. (Proyecto Café CO2) to talk about the best models for landscape collaboration.

CRS: “People are degrading landscapes, but people are also the solution.”  Healthy soils require integral soil fertility management, permanent soil coverage, no-till farming, no burrowing, and agro-forestry by a variety of actors. These can bring more farm productivity, quality water rendition/filtration and quality downstream. CRS believes that the key for going from the micro to the macro is to promote successful practices by showing others the benefit.

“If we want to look at how to manage landscapes sustainably, we need to find and identify that one unifying topic that motivates people to work together.” CRS’s Blue Harvest program promotes water protection as common goal that has been able to bring several partners together.  Water is integral to life and is a resource that is inherently local (a municipality may be able to bring in food, but it’s much harder to bring in water).  They have found that mayors in the municipalities have been important partners to water projects in this way: they can bring stakeholders to the table and also promote that they are protecting water (a win for them come reelection).

Conservation International: “We, as a society, have focused on a political division of landscapes. We’re now moving to see them as areas that share commonalities.” Conservation International shifted focus from best practices (letting markets take care of the rest) to inviting large companies to go to different landscapes and build value-chain improvements together.  Their efforts focus on first characterizing landscapes, developing and implementing action and investment plans, and then monitoring, evaluating and managing results. The aim is to understand the people and places that make up a landscape, design policies and practices that enable and sustain impact, manage natural capital of systems, and ensure that people in the landscape benefit. In this work, they are also developing knowledge that can be important for donors and others to act in this space in the most effective way.

Proyecto Café CO2 is a 30-year project (starting in 2013) aiming to restore degraded areas and sequester C02 in four Chatino indigenous communities across a landscape. Working with 380 coffee producers, the long-term goal of the project is to build resilience in communities to climate threats, cultural threats, market threats and economic threats, by planting native trees, renovating coffee farms with resilient varieties and implementing a robust monitoring system.  Thus far, the project has mitigated 100 million tons of C02 and seen a variety of environmental and social benefits (shade diversification, increased water level in the aquifer, job generation, social inclusion and empowerment, improved living condition and income, etc.). They are also using carbon bonds to gain monetary benefit from this work.   The success has Conservation International looking to replicate the program in other regions and states.

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