Agricultural practices and landscape management approaches need to be adaptive and focus on moving food system operations towards ‘safe spaces’. Such spaces exist where food security and livelihoods are sustained without crossing critical environmental or social limits and the system is resilient to climatic changes. Adaptive management to facilitate the move towards ‘safe spaces’ requires targeted scientific research and integrated, holistic understanding of landscape and food system processes to inform investments in climate-resilient agriculture and deliver appropriate policy and governance structures. Climate-smart practices represent approaches which foster the holistic, adaptive management practices required to shift tea plantation landscapes onto a pathway towards operating in ‘safe spaces’. Such practices and management approaches aim to simultaneously ensure sustainable increases in productivity and income, enhance agro-ecosystem resilience to climatic change and mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change.
Climate-smart agriculture is central to development plans of several high-level international bodies (e.g. UN FAO, UN IFAD, World Bank) and was touted as the sustainable and food secure pathway in recent discussions at Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the first and second Global Conferences on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, and at the Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day at COP18. Climate-smart management is applicable to multiple scales of governance hierarchy within a landscape and climate-smart approaches can be implemented across a range of spatial scales and tailored to address location-specific factors.
Climate-smartening the tea plantation landscapes would deliver multiple simultaneous benefits to livelihoods and the environment whilst developing resilience to uncertain and negative climate change impacts Given the paucity of data at the landscape scale and the limited understanding of climate-tea production-environment-human interactions it is currently difficult to optimise the implementation of climate-smart approaches. This research aims to provide evidence to help close this research gap.