OPINION The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released its report on Climate Change and Land Use. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries, finds that land and water resources around the world are under increasing human pressure, made even worse by a rapidly changing climate. Those factors combined are putting humankind at dire risk of not being able to feed itself.
A lot of the coverage I’ve seen about this report has, rightfully so, focused on the many contributing factors to climate change – deforestation, agricultural emissions, consumer choices and more.
But that’s not the angle I want to take here. The report is not all bad news. We have the tools to fight climate change. The challenge is generating the collective will to make the changes we know are needed. At American Farmland Trust we’re focused on doing just that with work initiatives aligned well with the report’s prescribed actions.
Accelerate knowledge and technology transfer to enhance the sustainable use of resources in a changing climate. The American Farmland Trust does this every day, working on the ground with farmers to implement soil-health practices that improve the economic and environmental outcomes of their operations, including through the implementation of technology.
Raise awareness, capacity building, and education about sustainable land-management practices, agricultural Extension and advisory services, and expansion of access to agricultural services so producers and land users can effectively address land degradation. Through our regional offices the American Farmland Trust works directly with farmers and with conservationists, land-protection partners, planners and legislative bodies, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Services and its Soil Conservation offices to build awareness and capacity for conservation work on land.
Measure and monitor land-use change. The American Farmland Trust’s Farms Under Threat research revealed in 2018 the alarming loss of farmland to development nationally in the United States. In January 2020 we plan to release a “State of the States” report showing localized loss.
Provide information on climate-related risk to improve the capacity of land managers and enable timely decision-making. The third phase of the American Farmland Trust’s Farms Under Threat research will reveal climate threats to land.
Empower women because they can bring synergies and co-benefits to household food security and sustainable land management. The American Farmland Trust’s Women for the Land program empowers women to take conservation action on their land through women-dedicated learning circles. They give them the opportunity to meet other landowners, share their farm successes and challenges, discuss their goals for their land, and access advice and technical assistance to help them implement conservation practices on their land.