Maintaining and enhancing biodiversity should become part of criteria for certifying sustainable agropastoral production systems as well as rural landscapes, worldwide
02 / 2005
“Ecoagriculture”- a relatively recent concept - promotes socially and ecologically improved sustainable rural land use practices, and higher levels of biodiversity within production systems. It also focuses on ecosystem services including biodiversity and watershed services at a landscape scale so as to make more space available for wildlife habitat.
The momentous problem – could modern agriculture on a large scale be compatible with biodiversity conservation? – was confronted by two well-known scientists: Jeffrey A. McNeeley (IUCN, Gland, Switzerland) and Sara J. Scherr (Forest Trends, also associated with the CGIAR dissemination branch Future Harvest, Washington D.C.). They were soon convinced that the present dominant model of large scale agriculture requiring external inputs, and considered to cause negative environmental impacts (soil compaction caused by heavy mechanization; water resources pollution; large scale destruction of native flora and wildlife habitats), could cause irreversible damage to our global environment and livelihoods. This dramatic situation could only change if we were to invest significant efforts toward biodiversity conservation in harmony with long-term sustainable agricultural production systems at a landscape scale.
What is ‘Ecoagriculture’?: Ecoagriculture embraces diverse systems and practices linking production and biodiversity across landscapes. It is a multidisciplinary, multi-preoccupation approach improving rural productive activities, restoring connections between these productive activities and Nature with due attention to sustainable habitability for the human race on our planet. Therefore, ecoagriculture entails an ample set of strategies and activities, i.a.: sustained land use systems based on agroecology, organic agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture; increasing agricultural and cattle-raising productivity on lands already in use; reducing agrochemical use in rural areas; and establishing corridors (strips of perennial vegetation linking fragments of native forests or natural ecosystems), among other options.
A priority goal of Ecoagriculture Partners is to systematically document ecoagriculture systems and practices and facilitate information-sharing among members and non-members innovators. Ecoagriculture Partners includes a wide array of farmer organizations, agribusinesses, conservation organizations, development organizations, public agencies involved in agriculture and natural resource management, local and regional planning authorities, and research and educational organizations. REBRAF – the Brazilian Agroforestry Network – became a founding member of Ecoagriculture Partners in 2003, and participated in its first international Congress in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2005.
The interest of REBRAF and other developing country organizations in Ecoagriculture stems from the need – in Brazil – to (a) increase the levels of biodiversity within agroforestry systems, and (b) to re-introduce trees, tree-belts, life-fences and windbreaks in our devastated landscapes.
Contact Dr. Sara SCHERR (email@example.com) or Claire RHODES (firstname.lastname@example.org)- Ecoagriculture Partners, www.ecoagriculturepartners.org
The main sponsors of Ecoagriculture Partners are the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF www.worldagroforestry.org ), Forest Trends (Washington, D.C., USA; www.forest-trends.org) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN, Gland, Switzerland; www.iucn.org).
Articles and files ; Report ; Web site
MCNEELY J.A. & SCHERR S. J. 2003. Ecoagriculture: strategies to feed the world and save wild biodiversity. Washington D.C., USA. Island Press (The Center for Resource Economics), 323 p.
ECOAGRICULTURE PARTNERS, 2005: documents available at www.ecoagriculturepartners.org.