The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Blue Marble Microinsurance said they’ve formed a partnership designed to provide microinsurance for small ranchers in Latin America who use a weather-resilient practice called “silvopasture.”

Silvopastoral farming is the practice of combining trees with forage pasture and livestock, which improves ranchers’ resilience to floods, storms and droughts, while at the same time increasing meat and milk production in a smaller area, said TNC.

A non-profit conservation organization operating in 70 countries, TNC’s mandate is to show that nature can be a solution for mitigating risks communities face from climate change.

As financing is a key challenge to bring such natural solutions to scale, TNC said it is collaborating with the insurance industry to develop solutions that promote such sustainable techniques.

“For a rancher, assurance (or insurance) that he or she can recover in the event of a loss during the implementation phase favors greater adoption and expansion of these sustainable systems,” said TNC and Blue Marble.

“Blue Marble views insurance as a catalyst for the adoption of silvopastoral systems,” explained Blue Marble by email. “While the design of the insurance solution is in its early stages, our intention is that insurance will protect cattle ranchers adopting silvopastoral systems against risks to the implementation and maintenance of these systems.”

“I am very pleased that Blue Marble is working with The Nature Conservancy. Insurance is a catalyst for scaling some of their innovative programs, and through embedding insurance in these programs, we will improve the lives and futures of farming families and help address climate change at the same time,” said Joan Lamm-Tennant, chief executive officer of Blue Marble, in a statement.

The adoption of silvopastoral systems has been slow given the relative high levels of investment needed, amounting to US$2000-US$3000 per hectare, depending on location and system variations, TNC noted.

TNC said silvopasture improves the resilience of small ranchers in multiple ways including:

  • Higher livestock productivity – up to 67 percent increased milk production and/or 51 percent increased meat production, especially after the second year of implementation
  • Diversification of income sources – timber and/or fruit trees
  • Resilience against climate change – increased water quality, soil protection, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, maintained production during severe conditions, such as El Niño
  • Better agronomic practices – 50 percent decreased use of herbicides and frequency of erosive fires.

These systems play an important role in minimizing the impact of one of the highest contributors to GHG emissions – cattle ranching and grazing, TNC said.

“With 68,000 people being displaced by climate change every day, the world demands innovative approaches and the time is now. Our partnership with Blue Marble Microinsurance brings tangible evidence of how the private sector is inextricably linked to building stable and resilient local economies in the face of an uncertain climate,” said Kathy Baughman McLeod, managing director for Climate Risk & Resilience at TNC.

“Over the last five years, silvopastoral production systems were piloted in one community in Chiapas and six communities in the Yucatan Peninsula with great success,” said Dr. Isabel Studer, executive director for the Mexico and Northern Central America program at TNC. “However, since these production models have struggled with rapid adoption, we’re grateful for this partnership with Blue Marble that will deliver benefits to both the environment and the people of Chiapas.”

Source: The Nature Conservancy/Blue Marble Microinsurance