Biodiversity conservation and agricultural sustainability: Towards a new paradigm of 'ecoagriculture' landscapes

Ecoagriculture Partners, Washington, DC 20001, USA.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 6.31). 03/2008; 363(1491):477-94. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2007.2165
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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.

Download full-text


Available from: Jeffrey Mcneely, Aug 19, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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 · 3.24 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Rapid alteration of natural habitats, driven by the ever-increasing demand for agricultural land, adds a significant component of habitat variability to tropical environments. Human population-driven habitat alteration is a trend particularly evident in developing countries, where more humans are dependent on the environment for basic survival and where land management practices are relatively poor (Smart et al. 2005; Scherr and McNeely 2008). The loss, degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats through *Corresponding author. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Landscape modification is a key driver of global species extinction. Thus, understanding how species react to changes is essential for effective conservation management in modified landscapes. We examined the impact of selected land use patterns on the critically endangered Ceratophora tennentii in the Knuckles mountain range of Sri Lanka where lizards occupy patches of both natural undisturbed forests and modified plantations - evidently, those with a forest canopy. We tested three potential explanations for non-random habitat selection: availability of suitable microhabitat pockets, availability of prey and direct threats from humans. The microhabitat pockets occupied by the lizards were characterised by shade, humidity and the density of perches. Most lizards were found in mixed cardamom forests followed by natural forests and cardamom plantations, but none were observed in the pine plantations. Food availability showed similar patterns among habitats. Direct mortality by humans did not influence the distribution of this species. Our work indicates that habitat modifications that retain the structural complexity of the vegetation would still permit the existence of the species in densities equal to or greater than that of undisturbed forest patches. It adds to a growing body of literature that signifies the importance of disturbed habitats (intermediate disturbance hypothesis) in protecting threatened species of fauna. It is highly unlikely that some disturbed habitats will be ever be returned to their former pristine state in time frames that are important for species’ conservation. Hence, attention is needed in developing suitable approaches to manage and conserve species across disturbed habitats.
    Journal of Natural History 02/2015; DOI:10.1080/00222933.2015.1006280 · 0.93 Impact Factor
    • "Owing to the shortcomings of pro-green revolution farming and increased demand for food, there has been a resurgence of interest in agricultural systems that are founded on the basis of sustainable agriculture through increased on-farm biodiversity (Garrity et al. 2010). Research has shown that an improvement in on-farm biodiversity, if assembled correctly in time and space, can lead to farming systems that can naturally buffer extreme weather events (Gurr et al. 2003), regulate resource use and competition and reduce risk of pests and diseases through biological or direct control, ultimately ensuring sustainable food security (Altieri 2002; Scherr & McNeely 2008) and enhanced resilience. In selected regions of India, South America (Ebert 2014) and North Africa (Jalloh 2002), the increase in tree and crop biodiversity through intercropping has increased food security. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The risk to food security is particularly dire in rural sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where a third of the world’s undernourished people reside. Intercropping has potential to improve rural livelihoods through better resource utilization and improved resilience to current and future challenges. This paper reviewed concepts in intercropping and outline how resources are captured and utilized within the system. Crop simulation models (CSM) as decision support tools for intercrop/multicrop systems and future directions for modelling multicrop systems are the focus of the review. Through increased crop biodiversity, intercropping improves resilience, food security and nutrition. This is achieved through improved resource capture and utilisation due to differences in spatial and temporal distribution of component crops. For farmers to maximise on these advantages, they need to have full knowledge of species combination, arrangements and proportions. A major drawback to intercrop systems is that most of the existing agronomic recommendations are tailored on monoculture practices. This is also evident in the structure of most CSMs that cannot account for heterogeneous crop stands. In conclusion, there is a need to enhance agricultural research on intercrop systems, combining conventional and modern research approaches. Moreover, CSMs should be multi-dimensional in order to simulate system diversity accurately.
    Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science 02/2015; DOI:10.1080/03650340.2015.1017816 · 0.52 Impact Factor
Show more