Large areas of the humid tropics are like mosaics, combining features of forests and agriculture and housing hundreds of millions of people. Land uses that store high quantities of carbon, such as agroforestry and other tree-based systems, make up a large part of those mosaic areas. Yet current discussions on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) within the UNFCCC do not adequately address these land uses as part of a potential mitigation strategy. This policy brief highlights evidence showing the potential of such land uses for storing carbon, stabilising forest resources and generating income. Policies and strategies that harness this potential can contribute to high carbon rural development in the humid tropics.
Key observations include:
important drivers of deforestation in areas of mixed agriculture - forest land use. More dynamic change occurs in mixed forest-agriculture mosaics and forest margins in tropical landscapes than in forest cores
multiple pathways of change determine carbon and livelihoods - change in forest-agriculture mosaics in tropical countries can take many different pathways, which are characterised by different types of forest and tree cover, quantities of carbon, economic returns, and environmental outcomes
intermediate land uses can contribute to REDD objectives - agroforestry systems that are intermediate between natural forests and intensive foodcrop systems can conserve and sequester high amounts of carbon and generate moderate to high income for farmers compared to other land uses.
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