Our ultimate aim is to significantly decrease GHG emissions and gain synergistic benefits for soil and environment, competitiveness of agriculture and rural livelihood without jeopardizing food security.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture constitute about 20% of the total emissions of Finland. According to the Climate Convention and Kyoto Protocol the EU has committed to reduce its GHG emissions. In Finland, also the agricultural sector has to contribute to the national climate change mitigation efforts. Reducing GHG emissions from the agricultural sector has proved to be very challenging1. The most effective means to reduce GHG emissions in agriculture is through changes in land use and management.

Decisions on land use are usually not based on any optimisation process. Current incentives for agriculture may even favor activities that increase the GHG emissions.

OPAL-Life -project will focus, with a participatory approach, on developing, implementing and monitoring methods to support development of future agricultural and environmental policies that safeguard rural livelihoods and reduce environmental footprint.

With anticipatory planning of rural landscapes, we aim to integrate sustainable production of high yields with reduced GHG emissions. We aim to demonstrate that through environmentally and socio-economically sustainable intensification, we manage to narrow the existing high yield gaps between potential and harvested yields in highly productive fields, while non-responsive, poor or distant fields are targeted for extensification (green fallows, buffer zones, nature managed fields, game fields). Such changes provide opportunities for sustaining biodiversity in agriculture. We aim to monitor how extensified fields may recover e.g. from soil compaction and return to food production. We also aim to demonstrate the added value gained as better resilience to climate change and variability through increased diversity. With GHG monitoring, we aim to demonstrate that the fields with non-existing capacity to recover and return to food production in a long run, provide additional means to reduce GHG emissions by afforestation. Along with the demonstration and implementation actions we monitor how novel co-existence of intensification, extensification and afforestation are acceptable and feasible for the farmers.

1 Finland´s 6th National Communication under the UNFCCC 2013