Agriculture, Forestry and other Land-Use Print E-mail

The challenge



@CARE Guatemala 2007


In recent decades, we have made unprecedented changes to our environment in order to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, fiber and energy. This includes sweeping global losses of forest ecosystems and their services, which directly affect climate variability and change. For example, deforestation  is responsible for 17 per cent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. This contribution is the largest of any single sector, with the possible exception of electricity and home heating. Deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia alone are likely to cancel out 80 per cent of all gains achieved if industrialized nations meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.*

The conclusion is inescapable: if humanity fails to change the way it values and manages forest landscapes, we will lose the fight to avoid dangerous climate change.

Meanwhile, degraded landscapes have tremendous potential to sequester carbon in soils and vegetation. For instance, there are roughly 1 billion hectares of farmland in developing countries that could be made far more productive – and more resilient to the impacts of climate change – through increased adoption of agroforestry and conservation agriculture practices. This would make a tremendous contribution to reducing poverty while safely sequestering carbon.

Innovative Agriculture, Forestry and other Land-Use (AFoLU) initiatives are needed to work with poor and marginalized people to improve the management of standing forests and to safeguard the amount of carbon stored in the land in ways that promote human rights, reduce poverty and help communities adapt to climate variability and change whilst ensuring environmental integrity.


CARE’s response

CARE takes a rights-based approach to forestry in that it believes poor people, and especially the rural poor, should actively participate in and directly benefit from pro-poor AFoLU carbon initiatives - notably afforestation, reforestation and sustainable land management projects. CARE specifically supports AFoLU interventions that will improve the resilience of rural communities to the impacts of climate change such as using carbon finance to support Community Based Adaptation activities.


CARE AFoLU initiatives include tree planting, conservation agriculture, landscape planning and community-based forest management, to name but a few activities. These projects restore and/or conserve the natural resource base that the rural poor, in particular, depend upon for their livelihoods, energy and shelter.


AFoLU projects also have a key role to play in the international community's struggle to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - especially goals to ‘eradicate extreme poverty and hunger' (goal 1) and ‘ensure environmental sustainability' (goal 7). Nonetheless, AFoLU initiatives will not realise their poverty-reducing potential unless models are purposefully developed that reduce rather than exacerbate social inequalities and injustices.


* See booklet-01-en.pdf,,, and