Shifting Cultivation, Gender and REDD+ in West and Central Africa

15 August 2012 | Article

 CEESP TGER Co-Chair Dr. Janis Bristol Alcorn is serving as a technical advisor for a new USAID-funded study of "Shifting Cultivation, Gender and REDD+ in West and Central Africa", being implemented by USAID´s Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities (FCMC) project in coordination with CARPE and STEWARD projects in West and Central Africa.

The objective of the study is (1) to better understand the role of shifting cultivation in relation to forest degradation and deforestation drivers in West and Central Africa, and (2) to better understand the issues, opportunities and constraints associated with shifting cultivation, including the impact of possible restrictions on shifting agriculture related to climate change mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The study aims to identify gaps in knowledge and contribute to identifying alternatives for building on the strengths of shifting cultivation systems (also known as swidden, indigenous rotational agriculture, as well as many local names) for integrating carbon sequestration objectives with rural livelihoods and food security. As REDD may be moving toward REALU (Reductions in Emissions from All Land Uses), a better understanding of forms of shifting cultivation can help planners identify and promote systems that sequester carbon in different ways.

The study was kicked off by an experts workshop in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2012. CEESP members Janis Bristol Alcorn, Carol Colfer and Jacque Pollini were among the participants. Experts from the US Geological Survey, NASA and US Forest Service shared relevant remote sensing imagery from the region, methodological issues were discussed, and recommendations were made for next steps.

The study will likely be completed over the next two years.