Integrating agriculture and climate change mitigation at landscape scale: Implications from an Australian case study

Abstract

Rural and regional hinterlands provide the ecosystem service needs for increasingly urbanised communities across the globe. These inter-related ecosystem services provide key opportunities in securing climate change mitigation and adaptation. Their integrated management in the face of climate change, however, can be confounded by fragmentation within the complex institutional arrangements concerned with natural resource management. This suggests the need for a more systemic approach to continuous improvement in the integrated and adaptive governance of natural resources.

This paper explores the theoretical foundations for integrated natural resource management and reviews positive systemic improvements that have been emerging in the Australian context. In setting clear theoretical foundations, the paper explores both functional and structural aspects of natural resource governance systems. Functional considerations include issues of connectivity, knowledge use and capacity within the natural resource decision making environment. Structural considerations refer to the institutions and processes that undertake planning through to implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

From this foundation, we review the last decade of emerging initiatives in governance regarding the integration of agriculture and forests across the entire Australian landscape. This includes the shift towards more devolved regional approaches to integrated natural resource management and recent progress towards the use of terrestrial carbon at landscape scale to assist in climate change mitigation and adaptation. These developments, however, have also been tempered by a significant raft of new landscape-scale regulations that have tended to be based on a more centralist philosophy that landowners should be providing ecosystem services for the wider public good without substantive reward.

Given this background, we explore a case study of efforts taken to integrate the management of landscape-scale agro-ecological services in the Wet Tropics of tropical Queensland. This is being achieved primarily through the integration of regional natural resource management planning and the development of aggregated terrestrial carbon offset products at a whole of landscape scale via the Degree Celsius initiative. Finally, the paper teases out the barriers and opportunities being experienced, leading to discussion about the global implications for managing climate change, income generation and poverty reduction.

Citation

van Oosterzee, P.; Dale, A.; Preece, N.D. Integrating agriculture and climate change mitigation at landscape scale: Implications from an Australian case study. Global Environmental Change (2014) 29: 306-317. [DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.10.003]

Integrating agriculture and climate change mitigation at landscape scale: Implications from an Australian case study

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