Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog

Improved natural resource management for livelihoods, food security and the natural environment


Farmers cultivate land next to a reservoir. Photo: Matthew McCartney

Built or natural infrastructure: a false dichotomy

In the face of climate change managing water resources is becoming more difficult. In an effort to manage increased water variability, there is a competing discourse on the need for more built infrastructure (e.g. dams, canals and levees) to store and regulate water in order to support social and economic development and facilitate adaptation to climate change.

Sarah Karungari is a Kimunye Community Forestry Association member working on a beehive project. Photo: Fred Pearce

Poachers turned gamekeepers

Something interesting is happening in Kenya – something that, if successful, could reverberate through Africa and transform the continent’s landscape management. Formerly all-powerful state agencies are handing over day-to-day control of key resources like forests, rivers and wildlife to local communities.

A small-holder irrigation scheme in the Dry Zone. Photo: Matthew McCartney/IWMI

When dry is wet, what’s the problem?

It seems obvious: if it’s called the Dry Zone it must be dry. Right? Located in a central plain, sandwiched by highlands to the east and west, the Dry Zone of Myanmar is the driest part of the country. But is lack of water really the problem?

The siting tool is being used to guide land use planning in oil palm - forest landscapes

Balancing competing land use goals

Large scale agricultural expansion is a controversial topic in current development debates. Investments in land for agricultural production can potentially bring important economic and social benefits. Yet, increasing the agricultural areal often happens at the expense of forests, resulting in biodiversity losses and greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo: CIFOR

Restoring land for conservation or development?

The new battle cry uniting climate campaigners, environmentalists, agriculturalists and advocates of a landscape approach to planning is for the restoration of former forest land. But what do we mean by “restoration”? Restoration to what? And for whom?