The 4CMR Programme for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Land Use
Increasing demand for natural resources combined with competing uses for land draws our attention to the need for sustainable land management practices in both the developed and developing world. Given that approximately 20% of carbon emissions come from land use change and that much of the world’s population relies on ecosystem services as a basis for their livelihood, there is a pressing need to develop policies that can deliver both environmental protection and sustainable development.
The Programme for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Land Use represents one work-stream within the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research (4CMR), which is a dedicated research centre of the Department of land economy, university of Cambridge.
Our goal is to use the learning platform provided by our world-class institution to both generate and share knowledge that can support practical solutions to challenges linked to land use, land use policies and planning procedures. We therefore have teaching, research and engagement components within our overall programme.
Please click here to download the programme brochure.
An integrated analytical framework
We adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to examine the influences/pressures on land use and consider land use problems from 6 different perspectives:
Through this approach, we identify and assess ways to govern land use that are effective, equitable and sustainable, which can contribute to the resolution of global issues such as climate change, food security and economic development.
Research delivery and impact
Please note that while making research results widely available is part of our general practice, we will respect any wishes related to privacy and/or confidentiality concerns.
Our vision is to provide a research centre where different actors (whether from civil society, the private sector, international institutions or government) can seek knowledge-based solutions to practical issues found within the field of land use and management.
Identifying research potential
With so many knowledge gaps and practical challenges within the fields of conservation, development and sustainable land use, an important part of our preliminary work is to determine the most appropriate topics for research. We evaluate research potential based predominantly on three criteria:
We currently have several research projects focused specifically on high-impact research in the field of sustainable land use and management. These projects include:
REDD+ Law Project
The international policy developments around REDD+ and the long-term anticipation of REDD+ as, at least in part, a market-based compliance mechanism has seen early engagement by the private sector to finance the development of REDD+ projects. In general, this has seen private sector developers as well as international conservation groups develop REDD+ projects primarily under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), financed through the sale of REDD+ credits. Such projects continue to be developed across multiple jurisdictions with varied levels of success, always with long implementation timeframes. Over the past few years, these early investments have produced valuable on-the-ground experience in terms of the recurring problems, challenges and lessons that such projects face - particularly regarding legal issues, which must be resolved in order for REDD+ to move forward.
Common to most projects are recurring systemic challenges within domestic legal systems related to governance structures, such as:
Overcoming the Legal Barriers to REDD+ Implementation
Approximately 18% of carbon emissions are from deforestation, forest degradation and other changes in land use. For this reason, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is developing a policy called reducing emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries, otherwise known as REDD+. The details of what could become an international mechanism for financing REDD+ activities remain uncertain: key issues to resolve include the role of public and private finance, the quantification (and valuation) of forest carbon stock and the definition of appropriate safeguards. REDD+ is one of the most advanced areas of the international climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC.
Although the international policy for REDD+ has not been finalised, many countries are developing and implementing reDD+ programmes. The trade in forest carbon offsets already exists in the voluntary market, and other national compliance regimes could provide other trading platforms for REDD+ carbon credits (for example, the recently approved Californian and Australian emissions trading schemes). As REDD+ races forward, key questions about how it is going to be implemented remain. These knowledge gaps must be addressed before informed legislative choices can be made – providing the core motivation for this research project as we seek to fill those gaps.
The conservation group Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has begun implementing REDD+ projects in Liberia, vietnam, Cambodia, indonesia and the Philippines. The ‘overcoming the legal barriers to REDD+ implementation’ project examines some of the core questions that need to be resolved in order to implement such reDD+ projects successfully. These questions include how to clarify carbon rights, support benefit sharing, and ensure community engagement. By considering international and national legal rules in addition to provisions from non-legally binding (but nonetheless influential) provisions of voluntary standards, this research is able to support the valuable work of FFi in the fields of climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and community empowerment.
Financing for Climate-Compatible Land Use (Kenya Focus)
Small-scale production in developing countries is often unattractive to private sector investment. barriers to investment include unclear legal frameworks and lack of a profit motive for investors. As a consequence, small-scale producers in developing countries are limited in their capacity to access new development opportunities. Increasing investment into sustainable land use activities (such as sustainable forest management and climate-smart agriculture) has the potential to alleviate poverty in local communities, increase food security, encourage sustainable land use (including land use activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience to climate change) and strengthen governance. Therefore, we ask how can levels of private sector investment into small-scale, sustainable land use activities in developing countries be encouraged?
This research investigates this challenge from the project level – seeking to better understand the following aspects of investment into sustainable land use projects:
Tool Supported Development for Regional Adaptation (ToPDAd)
Adaptation in the face of climate change is a major challenge within the fields of conservation and development. Climate change is characterized by two distinct components: (1) slow trends in climatic variables such as global mean temperature, and (2) extreme weather phenomena such as heavy precipitation. Developing energy, water, ITC, transportation and other infrastructure systems at the local level that are resilient to envisaged climate impacts is critical. ToPDAd develops state-of-the-art socioeconomic methods and tools for an integrated assessment supporting regional adaptation decision-making – helping planners, policy makers, communities and businesses identify the vulnerability of their assets and design strategies for land and economic development that reduce such vulnerability. ToPDAd’s initial focus is on the energy, transport and tourism sectors in the EU and producing tools to guide decisions from 2010-2050 and 2050-2100. Regional strategies and EU-level policies need to be consistent across varying time frames in order to avoid maladaptation, where short-term climate adaptation policies conflict with longer-term adaptation goals.
ToPDAd is connected to the European Climate Adaptation Platform (DCLIMATE-ADAPT), a resource base for continuous learning, and a repository of data and tools supporting adaptation decision-making. It is funded by the EU under a 4.5m euro contract led by VTT technical research Centre of Finland. 4CMR is leading tool development on adaptation strategies and vulnerability reduction in regard to energy provision in different land areas of the EU; performing a gap analysis for adaptation studies and their ability to contribute to policy decisions; and providing stakeholder engagement.
The response of communities to adaptation challenges requires coordination of – and innovation in – policies and community planning procedures. This includes consideration of buildings, infrastructure and ecosystem services. Therefore, in addition to assessing the vulnerability of communities and economies to climate change, 4CMR collaboratively works with the Planning, Growth and Regeneration researchers of the Department of Land Economy to bring advanced tools of policy and planning analysis to the development of strategies of adaptation and the creation of institutional capacity for identifying and implementing these strategies in communities. A key issue in this research is how practices of sustainable land use can contribute to reducing the vulnerability of communities, their economies, their livelihoods and their built environment. The project additionally offers training programmes to communities to help develop institutional capacity and bring key actors to a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities of adaptation.
There are two taught modules derived from the work of the Programme for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Land Use:
These courses have been developed for the Environmental Policy Master’s programme within the Department of Land Economy. However, in response to demand from abroad, we have adapted these modules for delivery in a condensed format. At the request of local partners in developing countries, we offer these modules in an intense-delivery format either through a web-based or in-person format.
Module: Economic Development and Land Use Policies
Taught course: Offered as part of the Environmental Policy Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programme within the Department of Land Economy during Michaelmas term (October-November): http://www.4cmr.group.cam.ac.uk/ep09
Condensed course for intense delivery: In response to requests from many universities in developing countries, we created a condensed version of this module, which can be delivered through online teaching platforms, within Cambridge or abroad. In addition, we offer training to academics in developing countries so that they can deliver this course as part of their own curriculum.
As the human population continues to expand and to develop the natural environment, communities and policy-makers must contend with ever-changing patterns of land use, economic development, natural resource management and environmental protection. Difficult choices often need to be made between competing uses for land and the conflicts between using the natural environment and protecting it. How can these issues be conceptualised, and how can conflicts – between aims, between individuals and between values – be reconciled? How can societies, communities and their economies fit within the natural environment to preserve the natural capital and services on which they ultimately depend?
These are the central questions of the study of Land Economy. This module provides a conceptual and practical framework for approaching answers. It examines a series of topics that lie at the policy interface between natural resources, environmental protection, economic development, community design and land use, with special emphasis on the application of new ideas and theories to institutional and policy contexts from developed/developing countries and international programmes.
The focus is on understanding how the dynamics of land use, land cover change and social processes are being affected by (i) decentralized micro-economic and macro-economic decisions, (ii) the social and institutional (legal, political, etc) context of decisions, (iii) the natural processes that underlie environmental and ecological functions, and (iv) emerging international programmes, treaties and policy instruments/mechanisms that provide avenues of cooperation and competition between nations as these relate to land use and development. The course combines an analytical basis and a series of practical examples providing a broad overview of the main problems related to the dynamics of land use in developed and developing countries, and the correspondent recent discussion on the alternatives for sustainable development.
Module: Climate Change and Land Development
Taught course: Offered as part of the Environmental Policy MPhil programme within the Department of Land Economy during Lent Term (January-February): http://www.4cmr.group.cam.ac.uk/ep10
Condensed course for intense delivery: In response to requests from many universities in developing countries, we created a condensed version of this module, which can be delivered through online teaching platforms, within Cambridge or abroad. In addition, we offer training to academics in developing countries so that they may deliver this course as part of their own curriculum.
The module brings together the diverse perspectives and methods of Land Economy, Architecture, Planning and Engineering to explore the relationship between climate policy, land development and the built environment. It uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the impact of policies, community practices and design of the built environment on climate mitigation and adaptation. Consideration is given to the role of land and vegetation in climate change, the energy and carbon performance of buildings and infrastructure, climate and energy policies, ownership and governance chains in asset management, international and national policies and mechanisms, the macroeconomics of mitigation and adaptation, selection of policy instruments, and the role of community design (including buildings and infrastructure) in low carbon development and reduced vulnerability to climate change risks. Specific topics and methodologies covered are:
For more information about the Programme for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Land Use, please contact Professor Doug Crawford-Brown (djc77(at)cam.ac.uk) or Dr Sophie Chapman (smc70(at)cam.ac.uk).