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Study: How can climate policy benefit from comprehensive land-use approaches?

Scientists at Technische Universität München (TUM) have come up with a new land development concept tailored to medium-sized farms in South America that sees farmers transitioning from large-scale monoculture to more diverse crop mixtures spread over smaller plots interspersed with wooded areas. Their study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, evaluated the economic viability of this model, based on a typical medium-sized agricultural holding, and found that although costs are higher in the beginning as a result of reforestation, the combination of woodland management and smaller plots of land pays off in the long term.

Scientists at Technische Universität München (TUM) have come up with a new land development concept tailored to medium-sized farms in South America that sees farmers transitioning from large-scale monoculture to more diverse crop mixtures spread over smaller plots interspersed with wooded areas. Their study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, evaluated the economic viability of this model, based on a typical medium-sized agricultural holding, and found that although costs are higher in the beginning as a result of reforestation, the combination of woodland management and smaller plots of land pays off in the long term.

Abstract

Schemes that reward developing countries for mitigating greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions through forest preservation and restoration are becoming more common. However, efforts to reduce GHG emissions must also consider food production. This creates an apparent conflict, given that agricultural production – a key driver of GHG emissions as a consequence of forest clearance – will increase as human populations continue to grow. We propose that a mosaic of small patches of forest mixed with cropland enables sustainable intensification of agriculture by minimizing soil degradation. Economic analyses of this mixed land-use concept suggest an improvement of long-term economic performance of 19-25% relative to conventional industrial agriculture with large-scale monocropping. Adopting this approach requires farm management plans, landscape zoning, and new instruments to finance sustainable agriculture. We conclude that climate policy and food production can be reconciled through an integrative landscape concept that combines this more sustainable method of agricultural intensification with the reforestation of abandoned lands.

Reference

Thomas Knoke, Rosa M Román-Cuesta, Michael Weber, and Wolfgang Haber. 2012. How can climate policy benefit from comprehensive land-use approaches? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 438–445. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/110203

For the article, click here.
For the press release, click here.

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Publication
19 Nov 2012
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