An ecoagricultural landscape should ideally provide food and fiber to meet the needs of the community and respond to demand from external markets, protect biodiversity, enable local people to have viable livelihoods, and coordinate institutions to enable the other goals to be realized.
In terms of climate change, ecoagricultural landscapes and farming systems can contribute to the mitigation of its effects through the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere in vegetation and soils, the reduction of methane emissions from rice production, livestock and biomass burning, and the reduction of emissions of nitrous oxide from inorganic fertilizers. At the same time, production systems can be affected by changes in climate. A climate-friendly landscape is one that both contributes to the mitigation of climate change, and is resilient to its effects.
- Rice Terraces in Bali (Indonesia). Terrace farming has been used traditionally to prevent soil run-off and erosion due to the irrigation of water.
A variety of agricultural practices can help to bring about climate-friendly landscapes when they are adapted to local conditions, needs and knowledge. Sara J. Scherr and Sajal Sthapit in their report Farming and Land Use to Cool the Planet, chapter for the World Watch Report State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World, decribe five basic strategies to simultaneously increase the mitigation and adaptation to climate change in agricultural landscapes:
- Enriching soil carbon
- Creating high-carbon cropping systems
- Promoting climate-friendly livestock production systems
- Protecting existing carbon stores in natural forests and grasslands
- Restoring vegetation in degraded areas
Each strategy can be implemented through the applicatation of already available, well developed and low-cost techniques, and with the support of government and institutions to provide incentives for farmers and other stakeholders.
The following diagram outlines these strategies and the agricultural practices mentioned in Sara J. Scherr and Sajal Sthapit chapter, and how the market incentives and public policies can affect their implementation and therefore, the achievement of climate-friendly landscapes. To see the entire chapter, click on the link above.
The response of the landscape to changes in management practice is considered positive when ecosystem functions upon which the landscape’s performance goals depend are improved.
Local farmers and communities can significantly contribute with their knowledge and other resources to apply the land use strategies that realize these goals and increase the resilience of agricultural landscapes and ecosystems to climate change.