Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
REDD based forest expansion, food consumption, and reduced emissions agricultural policies (REAP) in the Ecuadorian Amazon
PI: Carlos Mena, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)
US Partner: Thomas Rudel, Rutgers University
Project Dates: May 2012 - April 2015
In tropical forest frontiers, agricultural policies that encourage cultivation increase greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time forest policies that encourage an expansion in forest cover reduce greenhouse gas emissions but can create risks for food security. Can these contrasting goals be reconciled? This project aims to inform the current debate by proving links between payments for ecosystems services (i.e., REDD+) and the production of foodstuffs using emergent silvopastoral landscapes (pasture land with increasing forestation) in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The emergence of these new forested landscapes is viewed by these researchers as both an opportunity for REDD+ due the characteristics of these landscapes as a carbon sink and as a natural experiment to explore the relationship between the expansions of forested landscapes and the production of food.
This project has several interconnected objectives: (1) identifying the extent and drivers of silvopastoral landscapes; (2) identifying food consumption and production patterns and understanding how they are affected by the emergence of silvopastoral landscapes; and (3) developing an emissions profile of peri-urban and urban farmers with an eye towards providing them an equitable distribution from the benefits of REDD+ while providing food security to urban areas. This project will be developed in two main areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon--Coca and Macas--that share key characteristics, including high population growth, high urban expansion, and the emergence of silvopastoral landscapes. However, these two areas are different in several respects. Coca is the center of oil exploration and extraction in Ecuador, and this industry is an important driver of agricultural expansion or land abandonment. Macas, on the other hand, is undergoing agricultural change due to mechanisms of rural-to-urban and international outmigration from agricultural areas. The use of these two areas will provide the opportunity to study processes common to the entire Amazon, where urban growth and the emergence of silvopastoral landscapes occur but due to different factors. To achieve their objectives, the researchers on this project will use a number of methods and techniques, including remote sensing, household surveys, and complex systems modeling. The project should contribute to increasing understanding of the relationship between food production and consumption and should generate a package of recommendations on reduced-emissions agricultural policies for Ecuador and the Amazon in general.
Summary of Recent Activities
Data collection and spatial analysis to determine forest succession in Orellana Canton, in the northern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, was a major focus of activity during the first quarter of 2013. Dr. Mena and his colleagues obtained satellite data from the Ministry of the Environment and a private company. They used a special methodology to segment, classify, and analyze the data, which were then integrated into maps showing forest cover in the canton in 2008 and 2012. Another map they produced graphically depicts not only forested and non-forested areas in those years but also changes in both directions (areas that went from forested to non-forested and vice versa). The data shown in the maps were also tabulated by uniquely coded census sectors. In the coming months, in addition to continuing ongoing dialogues with academics, activists, local residents, and NGO representatives, Dr. Mena and his group will also be preparing to conduct a household survey and doing preliminary work to calculate the emissions profile of peri-urban farmers.
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