Biodiversity Conservation and Agricultural Sustainability: Toward a New Paradigm of “Ecoagriculture” Landscapes

Ecoagriculture Partners, Washington, DC 20001, USA.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 7.06). 03/2008; 363(1491):477-94. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2007.2165
Source: PubMed


The dominant late twentieth century model of land use segregated agricultural production from areas managed for biodiversity conservation. This module is no longer adequate in much of the world. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment confirmed that agriculture has dramatically increased its ecological footprint. Rural communities depend on key components of biodiversity and ecosystem services that are found in non-domestic habitats. Fortunately, agricultural landscapes can be designed and managed to host wild biodiversity of many types, with neutral or even positive effects on agricultural production and livelihoods. Innovative practitioners, scientists and indigenous land managers are adapting, designing and managing diverse types of 'ecoagriculture' landscapes to generate positive co-benefits for production, biodiversity and local people. We assess the potentials and limitations for successful conservation of biodiversity in productive agricultural landscapes, the feasibility of making such approaches financially viable, and the organizational, governance and policy frameworks needed to enable ecoagriculture planning and implementation at a globally significant scale. We conclude that effectively conserving wild biodiversity in agricultural landscapes will require increased research, policy coordination and strategic support to agricultural communities and conservationists.

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    • "The expansion of agricultural land is recognised as a major driver of global deforestation (Kissinger et al., 2012) resulting in the loss of global and local biodiversity (Green et al., 2005). In order to reduce the negative impacts of this land-use change it is necessary to identify suitable areas for agriculture, and to understand the dynamics of biodiversity within these areas (Scherr and McNeely, 2008). This knowledge can then be incorporated into land management plans that are developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders (Sayer et al., 2013) to achieve both agricultural productivity and biodiversity conservation and hence support the sustainability of a developing social–ecological system (Berkes et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Deforestation and degradation are threatening forests and woodlands globally. The deciduous miombo woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa are no exception, yet little is known about the flora and fauna they contain and the implications of their loss. Butterflies are recognised as indicators of environmental change; however the responses of butterflies in miombo woodlands have received little attention. This paper describes butterfly assemblages and their response to woodland utilisation in an understudied area of miombo woodland in southwest Tanzania. This is an area representative of miombo woodlands throughout sub-Saharan Africa, where woodland is utilised by local communities for a range of products, and is being rapidly converted to agriculture. Baited canopy traps and sweep nets were used to sample frugivorous and nectarivorous butterfly communities at different vertical stratifications in nine different study sites. 104 species were recorded, of which 16 are miombo specialists that have been recorded in Tanzania to the west of the country only. Indicator species were identified for three different levels of utilisation, with species from the sub-family Satyrinae indicating moderate utilisation. Generalised linear mixed effects models showed that butterfly species richness, diversity and abundance all decreased in response to increasing agriculture and anthropogenic utilisation. The loss of miombo woodlands is likely to result in declines in butterfly diversity. However, there was evidence of an intermediate disturbance effect for butterfly species richness, diversity and abundance with one utilisation variable, suggesting that a miombo woodland management plan that allows moderate sustainable utilisation in a heterogeneous landscape of mature miombo woodland and agriculture will simultaneously maintain butterfly communities and enable agricultural production.
    Biological Conservation 12/2015; 192:436-444. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.10.022 · 3.76 Impact Factor
    • "Preserving existing biodiversity along with ensuring food security for the poorest has become an increasing challenge in the light of the expanding world population and the parallel increase of pressure on land. To achieve this dual goal, recent papers have highlighted the need to redesign modern agrosystems in which agricultural production and biodiversity conservation would not be opposed (Scherr and McNeely 2008; Brussaard et al. 2010; Chappell and LaValle 2011). In the humid tropics, smallholder agricultural systems could provide lessons for the development and implementation of this new paradigm (Padoch and Pinedo-Vasquez 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: In Vanuatu (Oceania), small-scale farmers’ subsistence still largely relies on the sustainable use and maintenance of a wide-ranging biodiversity out of which root and tuber crops provide the bulk of daily subsistence. In neighboring countries, foreign influence since the first European contacts, further associated changes and the introduction of new crop species have induced a loss of cultivated diversity. This paper presents a baseline study of the diversity of root and tuber crops in ten communities throughout Vanuatu. In a context where the smallholders’ agrosystems are increasingly considered as key components for the global conservation of crop genetic resources, this study provides clues to better understand the effective roles of biodiversity in traditional agrosystems. It also provides insights on the rationale behind the constitution of agricultural portfolios and discusses how the cultivated diversity allows communities to cope with changes and pressures. The paper also shows that recently introduced crops neither seem to have compromised agricultural diversity nor drastically changed the agrosystems in Vanuatu. On the contrary, such crops are used by farmers to strengthen the resilience of their agrosystems. A discussion then presents the idea of continuity through change and novelty as a critical factor for resilience. The paper concludes by discussing the role of indigenous agriculture and culture in ensuring food security and in development strategies in a larger context.
    Agriculture and Human Values 10/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10460-015-9657-0 · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    • "However, soil organisms can improve the resistance and resilience of soil against disturbance, for instance by enhancing soil structure (Brussaard et al. 2007). It has therefore been suggested that agricultural practices that stimulate soil biodiversity, such as increased crop diversity, reduced tillage and continuous soil cover, could help mitigate the effects of climate change (de Vries et al. 2012; Scherr and McNeely 2008). Among the enormous variety of life forms in soil, anecic earthworms may be particularly important in ameliorating the effects on soil and plants of intense rains. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background and aims Intense rains are becoming more frequent. By causing waterlogging, they may increase soil erosion and soil surface compaction, hamper seedling establishment, and reduce plant growth. Since anecic earthworms make vertical burrows that improve water infiltration, we hypothesised that they can counteract such disturbance. Methods In a field experiment, intact soil mesocosms with ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum), with or without introduced adult Lumbricus terrestris, underwent either a precipitation regime with two intense rain events (36 mm, at beginning and end of spring), or a control regime with the same cumulative rainfall but no intense events. Short-term response of soil moisture and lagged response of plant growth were measured, and soil macroporosity was quantified. Results Intense rains reduced ryegrass shoot biomass (by 16–21 % on average) only in the absence of earthworms. Waterlogging duration aboveground was not affected, whereas soil moisture contents after intense rainfall tended to drop faster with earthworms present. Continuous vertical macropores were found only in the mesocosms to which earthworms had been added. The number of such macropores was 2.4 times higher under the intense precipitation regime, despite similar earthworm survival. Conclusions We found that anecic earthworms can offset negative effects of intense rainfall on plant growth aboveground. Underlying mechanisms, such as macropore formation and enhanced nutrient cycling, are discussed. We also observed that altered precipitation patterns can modify earthworm burrowing behaviour, as earthworms had produced more burrows under the intense regime.
    Plant and Soil 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11104-015-2604-4 · 2.95 Impact Factor
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