To Really Make a Difference, Commit to Building Local Capacity
A letter from EcoAgriculture Partners' President Sara J. Scherr

While I spend most of my time these days working to build momentum, earn commitments, and shift policies at the national and international levels towards integrated landscape management, many members of EcoAgriculture Partners' staff are still hard at work seeding the grassroots with the knowledge and capabilities to actually implement ILM. This was very clearly on display the past two months, when, as I was preparing for the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit and the CGIAR Development Dialogues taking place next week, we published three new practitioner's guides, each developed during field work helping community groups put the integrated landscapes approach into practice.


The importance of available, adaptable practical guidance tools, resources and training manuals for integrated landscape management cannot be overstated. Each community, and the multi-stakeholder landscape initiatives aiming to link them through ILM, will have its own capacity gaps. Needs assessment and stock-taking is a critical first step in implementing a landscape approach.


The practitioner's guides we published this month were all developed and tested in landscapes where needs assessments identified critical capacity gaps. Ground-Based Photo-Monitoring of Landscape Changes Arising from Sustainable Land Management Practices is a proven technique for impact assessment and landscape monitoring that was deployed in China, the United States and Ethiopia by the authors before they wrote the guide. Spatial Planning and Monitoring of Landscape Interventions: Maps to Link People with their Landscapes is a toolkit, developed in part through field work in Kenya and Tanzania, that helps landscape leaders determine how and when to incorporate maps into the landscape management process. And the framework document for landscape leaders on Landscape Labeling: A marketing approach to support integrated landscape management, was developed through work in Kenya and Tanzania as well, this time to help landscape leaders develop markets-based approaches to improve landscape performance.


In each case, the guide's authors on EcoAgriculture Partners' staff are continuing to work with landscape leaders, and with our collaborators, to evaluate and refine the tools. All the policies and commitments in the world won't have the impact we need if we do not support communities, with other stakeholders, to implement landscape approaches on the ground. Thus EcoAgriculture Partners remains committed, after a decade of work on integrated landscape management, to working both on policy advocacy and local capacity building, and bridging the two.

 

Sincerely,

Sara


Participate online in the Inaugural Meeting of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture
UN Secretary General will announce #CSA_Alliance on Tuesday. First meeting takes place in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.

The meeting brings together Alliance partners, to share information and guide its inception year. You are invited to join the live webcast on 24 September from 15:00- 18:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time). Spaces are limited and pre-registration is required.

 

The online audience is welcome to join in and ask questions via live chat and via twitter using #CSA_Alliance.

 

Agenda

 

High Level Segment 

3:00- 4:15 pm  Welcoming remarks 

 

  • Ms Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Agriculture, the Netherlands
  • Dr Cao Duc Phat, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam 
  • Mr Tom Vilsack Secretary of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture 
  • Dr José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO / Ms Maria-Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Coordinator, Natural Resources, FAO
  • Dr Juergen Voegele, Senior Director of the World Bank's Agriculture Global Practice 
  • Dr Frank Rijsberman, Chief Executive Officer, CGIAR

Reactions from High Level representatives

 

4:15-5:00 pm - "Voices from all stakeholders " Interactive panel dialogue 

 

The Way Forward

5:00 - 5:20 pm Inception Year - Way Forward

  • Presenting the Road Map 
  • Outlining arrangements 
  • Formalizing the action groups

5:20-5:40 pm Next Steps, Initiatives and Actions in support of the Alliance 

  • Developing Program of Work for Inception Year
  • Planning of next meeting and evolutionary elements

Note: Agenda is subject to change without notice

 


EcoAgriculture and LPFN partners give landscapes prominence at ecosystem services conference
 

Louise Willemen, an EcoAgriculture Fellow with the University of Twente in the Netherlands, along with Fabrice DeClerck of Bioversity International and others, co-organized and hosted a session on Ecosystem Services in Healthy Rural Landscapes as part of the 7th Ecosystem Services Partners conference held this September in Costa Rica. The session was aimed at presenting the ways in which healthy ecosystems can provide services that are beneficial to agriculture and can help mitigate its negative effects. Healthy ecosystems provide services that are important to agricultural systems, but also to local livelihoods, ecosystem health and human well-being.


 

The session featured research tools and case studies as well as information on the current state of theory and practice relating to ecosystem services in rural landscapes. Members of the Rural and Cultivated Landscapes working group presented various perspectives ranging from business to conservation.


 

Christine Negra, Research Director at EcoAgriculture, also presented one of the keynote talks at the ESP conference, on "Managing rural landscapes to sustain ecosystem services, nature and people". You can view her presentation here.


 

Plans for next year's conference, hosted in Africa, are already in the works so stay tuned for more information!


 

More on the ESP Rural and Cultivated Landscapes working group is available here.



Academic Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems includes detailed entry on "ecoagriculture" authored by our staff

The term 'ecoagriculture' was coined by EcoAgriculture Partners president Sara J. Scherr and biodiversity expert Jeff McNeely in their 2001 book Common Ground, Common Future: How Ecoagriculture Can Help Feed the World and Save Wild Biodiversity. The word refers to integrated landscape management where agriculture is an important land use, though in some parts of the world the term relates to organic agriculture or agroecology production systems. To further spread awareness about what ecoagriculture really is, Scherr and current and former staff of EcoAgriculture Partners Seth Shames and Rachel Friedman, recently teamed up to write an encyclopedia article about ecoagriculture.


The article, published this month in the Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, defines ecoagriculture as "an approach to managing landscapes for the simultaneous and synergistic achievement of three sets of outcomes: (1) maintaining, increasing, or improving agricultural production; (2) conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services; and (3) enhancing human livelihoods and wellbeing. These outcomes are achieved by institutions that support multistakeholder collaboration." The article goes on to discuss the evolution of landscape approaches, varied entry points to landscape management, examples of ecoagriculture initiatives, the five key elements of integrated landscape management, the current scope and scale of integrated landscape initiatives, and the current state of research on ecoagriculture.


Curious about how ecoagriculture differs from (though embraces) agroecology? Check out this related blog post.


Sara Scherr also looks back at more than a decade of ecoagriculture in her article in the latest issue of Farming Matters, specially devoted to landscapes.



Landscape Labeling Framework and Case Study Now Available

While marketing strategies for supporting sustainable agricultural practices and ecosystem conservation are growing more prevalent each year, the most common forms, like payments for ecosystem services (PES) and eco-certification, require high consumer demand or large monitoring costs. Organizations working in Lari, Kenya and Mbeya, Tanzania wondered how producers using a landscape approach could adapt these marketing strategies to earn added value. Working with EcoAgriculture Partners, they decided to test an approach called "landscape labeling." EcoAgriculture recently released a framework and case study exploring the process and possibilities of labeling products to reflect the location and integrated management practices of their landscape of origin.

 

Read more on our blog.



Close to Home: Exploring Three of Virginia's Working Landscapes

In late July, EcoAgriculture Partners' staff ventured out into the field to explore several landscapes close to our home-to visit and ask questions at three farms in Virginia (USA) that are part of an incipient landscape initiative, while gaining practical experience with some of our landscape performance measurement tools.


Along with staff from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and several local landowners, the EcoAgriculture team took part in information sessions and tours of the Farm at Sunnyside, Over Jordan Farm and Oxbow Farm. These farms are members of Virginia Working Landscapes, a network that promotes sustainable landscapes for native biodiversity and agricultural production by conducting ecosystem research, monitoring habitats and providing community engagement and outreach. In this context, we evaluated and documented the pillars of integrated landscape management, including viable local livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and agricultural production, all supported and bound together by strong institutional linkages.


Read more
about our visit to the farms and the connections we made with the work we do in other countries.


New Easy-to-Use Guides and Tools for Tackling Multiple Objectives in Landscape Planning and Monitoring

Many contemporary environmental scientists and land managers are working to address complex, interdisciplinary problems while acknowledging humans as an integral part of the natural world. Acknowledging this relationship is especially important for understanding, developing and promoting sustainable land use practices for the production of food, forage and fiber within healthy ecosystems.

                                                       

A wide variety of tools are available for temporal and spatial analyses of these interdependent and multifunctional systems. These techniques, however, often require costly equipment and/or special training. EcoAgriculture has been working to develop inexpensive tools that are easy to use with diverse stakeholders working together in a landscape initiative. Two such systems are ground-based photo-monitoring, which uses basic photography techniques and simple equipment to monitor change and spatial planning, which uses maps for planning and monitoring landscape-scale land management.

 

EcoAgriculture Partners and Cornell University teamed up to create two guides for TerrAfrica's partners working on sustainable land management in Africa: Ground-Based Photo-Monitoring of Landscape Changes Arising from Sustainable Land Management Practices
and Spatial Planning and Monitoring of Landscape Interventions: Maps to Link People with their Landscapes. Read more about these new tools on the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Blog here.


Welcome Sarina Katz to the EcoAg Team!

EcoAgriculture Partners welcomes our new Administrative Assistant, Sarina Katz. Sarina recently moved to DC after graduating from Penn State University with degrees in International Relations and History. She works with our administrative staff to support daily office functions including handling reception, conducting document reviews and organizing expense reports. She also supports our outreach work. Sarina is off to a great start and we love having her here. She's the one by the front door, if you are ever in the office!

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