Agriculture and forests are often linked in the deforestation debates. But are differently approached when it comes to climate change debates. Generally speaking, forests relate to biodiversity and mitigation issues. Agriculture looks mostly at adaptation issues and food security. This makes it a challenge to develop effective policy mechanism for sustainable production of agriculture in particular regarding the demand side of agricultural production.
The question is: can agriculture learn from forests? Looking at forest governance mechanisms such as FLEGT (Forest Governance and Trade) and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), we see that they do not only address biodiversity conservation but also issues of governance, illegality and sustainable development. By doing so, these mechanisms cover the wider scope of sustainability and biodiversity conservation. For example, FLEGT includes the combination of legislation on import (via the EUTR) and voluntary partnerships (VPAs). By including different policy aspects (laws and voluntary guidelines), the impact of a policy mechanism increases.
Besides the specific policies, biodiversity monitoring have improved the technical possibilities to measure GHG emissions. An important part of REDD+ is the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of carbon accounting. In MRV, satellite images or laser scanning have become commonly used technologies to check biodiversity and have had a big impact on the MRV segment of REDD+. These technologies can be applied to more precisely track and trace the sustainable production of agricultural products.
Finally, recent increase of zero-deforestation pledges in the private sector shows the possibilities of further linking agriculture with with forests.
This blog reflects for a part the results of a study on demand side policy for better agricultural production issued by WWF-NL, 2015.
Scientific knowledge on climate change has always been an important source of information for policy makers. The amount of warming up, the rise of the waterlevels, the changes in ecosystems are all factors that need to be carefully researched and looked at. All this research has resulted in some important changes in forest and nature conservation and policies such as Natura 2000 (Europe’s largest network of nature areas).
Although change is happening at the policy side of the story, we still do not see much change in the actual practices of people managing the forests and ecosystems. It appears as if there is still a great mismatch between what scientist say about the effects of climate change and what forest managers do about it.
Forest managers, in contrary to scientists, seem much more sceptical about the possibility to actually do something about climate change. Climate change is still very abstract and even though people do see changes in their forests because of climate change, they still wonder how to adapt their normal management practices to it. Should they cut less trees? Should they try to keep certain species in certain places even though rises in temperatures may make this extremely difficult? Do they plant different trees? Overall, they struggle with translating the often big conclusions of climate scientists into practical recommendations. In the end, there are reservations about the usefullness and practical applicability of scientific knowledge.
But this does not mean that there is no room for improvement. The link between scientific knowledge and practice is not as politicised as for example the link between scientific knowledge and policy. Often, policy makers have to balance knowledge and a political agenda which makes the exchange between the two a political process. This is not the case between science and practice. There is a potential for experimentation and monitoring that allows forest managers to bring their expertise and input to the table. This means that the general role of science in the climate change debate becomes different and will be mixed with non scientific knowledge. But in the end, it will most likely have a far better impact on forest management practices and ultimately will lead to more sustainable and better adapted forest management.
See for more information: J. de Koning, et al. (2014) Managing climate change in conservation practice:an exploration of the science–management interface in beech forest management.
2014, Biodiversity and Conservation
Scientific studies reveal significant consequences of climate change for nature,from ecosystems to individual species. Such studies are important factors in policy decisions on forest conservation and management in Europe. However, while research has shown that climate change research start to impact on European conservation policies like Natura 2000, climate change information has yet to translate into management practices.This article contributes to the on-going debates about science–society relations and knowledge utilization by exploring and analysing the interface between scientific knowledge and forest management practice. We focus specifically on climate change debates in conservation policy and on how managers of forest areas in Europe perceive and use climate change ecology. Our findings show that forest managers do not necessarily deny the potential importance of climate change for their management practices, at least in the future, but have reservations about the current usefulness of available knowledge for their own areas and circumstances. This suggests that the science–management interface is not as politicized as current policy debates about climate change and that the use of climate change ecology is situated in practice. We conclude the article by discussing what forms of knowledge may enable responsible and future oriented management in practice focusing specifically on the role of reflexive experimentation and monitoring.
J. de Koning, G. Winkel, M. Sotirov, M. Blondet, L. Borrass, F. Ferranti, M. Geitzenauer, 2013, Environmental Science and Policy
European forests are a resource that is targeted by several EU environmental and land use policies as forests can be of critical importance to mitigate climate change. At the same time, they are central to the EU’s biodiversity policy, and particular the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Yet, the interlinkage between climate change and biodiversity policy is complex and discursively contested. In this paper, we assess how the debate on climate change adaptation affects forest conservation and management under Natura 2000. Drawing on the concept of argumentative discourse analysis, we present evidence from 213 qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders and practitioners that were conducted at both the European policy level and the local country level in 6 EU member states. Our results demonstrate that the nexus between climate change adaptation and forest conservation policy is
conceptualised differently by different stakeholders and practioners at different levels. Three major discourses can be made out (pragmatic discourse, dynamics discourse, threat discourse), which are characterised by a set of partially overlapping story lines. These discourses are employed by four discourse coalitions (environmental, forest users’, expert, and grass root coalition). As a general rule, debates at the European level are more polarised and politicised, while the local debates on climate change and Natura 2000 remain rather vague and are less polarised. This seems to indicate that the link between climate change adaptation and forest conservation is mostly an issue for an abstract high-level policy debate. At this level, climate change is used to influence well-known policies, and to legitimise distinct interests that were already present before the climate change debate has emerged.