chapter  3
21 Pages

Farming and Land Use to Cool the Planet

BySara J. Scherr, Sajal Sthapit

For more than a decade, thousands of lowincome farmers in northern Mindanao, the Philippines, who grow crops on steep, deforested slopes, have joined landcare groups to boost food production and incomes while reducing soil erosion, improving soil fertility, and protecting local watersheds. They left strips of natural vegetation to terrace their slopes, enriched their soils, and planted fruit and timber trees for income. And their communities began conserving the remaining forests in the area, home to a rich but threatened biodiversity. Yet these farmers achieved even more-their actions not only enriched their landscapes and enhanced food security, they also helped to “cool” the planet by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon in soils and vegetation. If their actions could be repeated by millions of rural communities around the world, climate change would slow down.1