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Agriculture and deforestation: What role should REDD+ and public support policies play?

Working Papers N°10/2010. Iddri, 2010. 20 p.

An article written by Romain Pirard and Sébastien Treyer.

Highlights :

* Agriculture is central to REDD+
When over 83% of new cropland areas in the tropical zone came at the expense of natural forests over the 1980-2000 period, and when the food challenge is becoming increasingly urgent, the REDD+ mechanism must find the means to tackle this sector of activity.

* Little proof exists in practice to confirm the Borlaug hypothesis (land sparing)
This hypothesis indicates that an increase in agricultural productivity per hectare makes it possible to reduce cultivated areas (and therefore the impact on forests). However, not only is the confirmation of this hypothesis uncertain according to recent articles on the matter, but its translation into economic terms also shows that it has some serious limitations.

* Changes in agricultural technologies have different types of consequences
Agricultural technologies can be changed in different ways with varying consequences for forest cover. For example, the consequences of intensifying labour or land differ considerably in terms of cultivated areas.

* Support policies are needed
In order to guarantee that agricultural land reforms work in favour of reducing deforestation and degradation, public support policies are needed. Most notably: (i) the dissemination of agricultural technologies, (ii) the harmonisation of sectoral public policies, (iii) Payments for Environmental Services (PES ), and (iv) changes in diets to act at the level of demand.

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