December 31, 2012

The Private Sector Side of Landscapes

Palm OilWith the growing role of the private sector in agricultural sustainability and responsible supply chain management, it is increasingly important that there are resources to assist this type of development.

One of the really exciting developments over the past year is the emergence of a plethora of new resources and tools to aid in landscape planning, management, and monitoring. Zoological Society of London reported on new protocols developed to monitor various components of conservation and sustainability within oil palm landscapes. World Resources Institute released another set of tools around the same time, focused on mapping technology to pinpoint areas for palm oil production that are most environmentally and economically sustainable. Tying into the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, both efforts try to link to activities in business and the private sector.

Similarly, the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership presented the open-source Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment (BROA) tool, which takes a landscape approach to identify, prioritize, and address biodiversity and business sustainability risks and opportunities for conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes.

These tools all have private sector applications in common. Bringing the perspective of the business community, the ISEAL Alliance, a global association for sustainability standards, introduced standards and certifications in use by business along the agriculture supply chain and how they are evolving over time. EcoAgriculture Partners also tackled the issue of actually measuring the environmental impacts of eco-standards and certifications.

A Landscape of the Week in Ghana demonstrated how Rainforest Alliance certification is moving practices towards climate-smart landscape approaches (see also Kerich-Mau). Through their efforts to promote sustainable agriculture, Ghana’s smallholder farmers may ultimately have the power to collectively transform an ecologically barren region into a productive, flourishing landscape where cocoa, trees, and sustainable livelihoods thrive.

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