Healthy landscapes produce a variety of fruits and vegetables, home gardens are used to cultivate them and contribute to nutrition. Photo: CATIE

A new alliance with a focus on sustainable landscapes


For the first time, the Association of International Research and Development Centres (AIRCA), is an implementing partner of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). Formation of AIRCA in 2012 was stimulated by the need for integrated action to deliver sustainable agricultural intensification at a landscape scale. AIRCA is a nine-member alliance of international research and development institutes committed to increasing food security by supporting smallholder agriculture and rural enterprises within healthy, sustainable and climate-smart landscapes, with the specific mission of putting research into use by strengthening capacities for sustainable improvements to incomes, food and nutrition security in healthy landscapes.

At this year’s Global Landscapes Forum in Paris, AIRCA will host a discussion forum focusing on the topic Climate Smart Agriculture for healthy landscapes and livelihoods. In this session we will present examples of how AIRCA members have developed different aspects of climate smart agriculture (CSA) and how this has contributed to achieving healthy landscapes and improved livelihoods. The session will start with a keynote address explaining the concept of healthy landscapes and the role of CSA in achieving them. This will be followed by a panel discussion on different approaches to CSA and healthy landscapes as implemented by AIRCA members in different continents (Africa, Asia and Latin America) as well as their experiences on opportunities and challenges for upscaling their approaches beyond the project level. This introduction and panel discussion will be used to involve the audience in a discussion of the benefits of this approach, the challenges ahead and specific recommendations for policy makers to help them develop strategies to operationalize CSA at the large scale to contribute to healthy landscapes approaches. The product will be a policy brief to inform a wider public of the lessons learned.Supported by more than 60 member countries comprising over 70% of the world’s population, AIRCA members have activities in all major geographic regions and ecosystem types. All have a proven track record of research, development and implementation, working closely with farmers, extension systems, national research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector across a wide range of crops and ecosystems.

CATIE contributes to poverty reduction and to economic, social and environmental development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
CATIE contributes to poverty reduction and to economic, social and environmental development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

One of AIRCA’s founding members is the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE,, an international university, based on the land grant model in the United States, that integrates three basic functions: research, education and outreach, which implies extension and application of knowledge in the field. CATIE´s mandate focuses on supporting sustainable management of agriculture and natural resources in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This task can only be done effectively by developing and implementing systemic approaches in close collaboration with partners and allies at all levels.

The research carried out by CATIE takes a systemic approach. The starting point is a holistic assessment of problems and opportunities in rural areas. CATIE maintains some specialized lines of research whose implementation and dissemination of results is framed in projects using systemic approaches that contribute integrally to achieving sustainable and inclusive human welfare.

As part of their work CATIE designs integrated farming systems that combine high productivity with high profitability and the effective conservation of natural resources. One of CATIE’s main strengths is the ability to integrate their agroforestry and sustainable agriculture work into the fields of climate change, watershed management, and forest and biodiversity management, which makes CATIE an institution capable of leading the development of climate-smart territories.

CATIE and its partners promote adaptive co-management of watersheds and biological corridors in fragmented agricultural landscapes in Central America through formal and informal decision-making platforms. An example of this approach is the Birris micro-watershed in Costa Rica, which feeds a private hydroelectric power plant.

Tree cover in the watershed has diminished because family farms have become fragmented as they are passed from one generation to the next. The consequent need to make maximum use of small productive areas by intensifying cropping has led to increased irrigation. This in turn has led to topsoil erosion, which has contributed to sedimentation in the dam at the hydroelectric plant.

Participative analysis of different land use scenarios showed that a combination of private actions (such as soil conservation measures) and collective action (such as payment for reforestation of private land at high risk of erosion) was the preferred choice to optimize economic costs and benefits. This strategy also offers climate change adaptation and mitigation benefits to local stakeholders and society as a whole.

CATIE and AIRCA organize their work using a landscape framework; i.e., in the case of AIRCA, our global unifying aim is to create healthy landscapes while in Latin America CATIE has extended FAO´s climate smart agriculture approach to the creation of climate smart territories. Hence the Global Landscape Forum is an ideal opportunity for CATIE and AIRCA to present advances of our holistic and system approaches to improving land use and livelihoods in tropical countries, and to learn from others about their comparable approaches.


The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)


CAB International (CABI)


Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE)


Crops for the Future (CFF)


International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA)


International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)


African Insect Science for Food and Health (icipe)


International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)


International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)

To find out more about AIRCA and its members, please visit,,

2015 Global Landscapes Forum

AIRCA has joined the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum as an Implementing Partner. The Forum will be held in Paris on 5-6 December. To learn more about the event, click here.

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AIRCACATIEGlobal Landscapes Forumlandscape approachParis



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