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Integrating Agriculture and
Biodiversity Conservation –
A Landscape Perspective
Sara J. Scherr
President, Ecoagriculture Partners
Biodiversity Conservation in Agriculture Symposium
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
May 31, 2006
Managing and Conserving Biodiversity:
Our ‘Natural Infrastructure’
Watershed protection and regulation
Wild species & habitat protection
Plant pollination
Carbon sequestration and storage
Soil formation and fertility
Decomposition of wastes
Landscape beauty
Importance of Agricultural Landscapes
for Biodiversity Conservation
Population in Global Biodiversity
Population in Global
Biodiversity Hotspots
Dominance of Agricultural Land Use in
Major Habitat
Importance of Biodiversity for
• Direct consumption of wild
foods, medicines and fuel
(and “safety net”)
• Farm inputs: wild spp as
fodder, fertilizer, packaging,
• Income from sale of wildlife,
ecosystem services
• Crop/stock genetic diversity
• Local ecosystem services:
water, pollination, soil
fertility, pest & disease
control, nutrient cycling
Future Trends in Agricultural Landscapes:
The Urgency of Integrated Action
Agriculture is a key element of rural food
security and poverty reduction
(UN Millennium Project)
Agricultural product demand is growing:
50-100%+  LDC food demand by 2030
Ecological degradation threatens
agricultural productivity, livelihoods, health
and assets of the poor (Millennium
Example of the Challenge:
Lake Victoria
E. Africa
Agricultural Lands and Habitat
Strategic Partnerships Required Between
Conservationists and Farm Communities
 Producers in, around & linking PA’s
 Agricultural regions that are key providers of
for biodiversity and ecosystem services
 Degraded areas where ecosystem restoration
is essential for both biodiversity & production
 Agriculture in and around urban areas
Our Vision
Agricultural landscapes where farms and natural areas are
managed to enhance rural livelihoods and sustainable
agricultural production (of crops, livestock, fish and forest),
while conserving or restoring ecosystem services and
Putting food security at the heart of conservation;
Putting conservation at the heart of food security…
Motivations of Farmers and Communities
Who Engage in Ecoagriculture
1) Reduce production costs, raise or
stabilize yields, improve quality
2) Conserve biodiversity critical to
their own livelihoods
3) Access product markets seeking
biodiversity-friendly sources
4) Earn payments for ecosystem
5) Comply with env. regulations
6) Protect rights to farm/herd/harvest wild products in PA’s
7) To reduce conflicts with other groups in the landscape
8) Protect important cultural, spiritual or aesthetic values
Developing and Managing an
Ecoagriculture Landscape
Inter-Dependence of Agriculture,
Wild biodiversity
Conservation of
biodiversity and
Ecosystem process & function,
such as:
• Primary production
• Decomposition
• Nutrient cycling
• Gene flow & evolutionary
• Hydrology
Some ecosystem processes and
functions help to maintain wild
Some ecosystem processes and
functions benefit humans directly;.
These are ecosystem services.
Ecosystem services
Community and household-level
benefits such as:
• Protection of natural capital
• Wild foods, fuel, medicines
• Compensation payments for
ecosystem services
Beneficial services within
landscape, such as:
• Pollination
• Pest control
• Soil fertility
• Water quality
Sustainable agricultural
Beneficial services outside
landscape, such as:
• Carbon sequestration
• Flood protection
• Habitat for valued species
What Wild Species Need in Agricultural
 Nesting sites: undisturbed areas
 Protective cover: diverse perennial cover
 Adequate, clean water: few pollutants, source
flow/recharge, water access
 Access to territory: functional corridors
 All-season food access: diverse food sources
 Predator-prey balance: diversity, protection
 Interdependent species: patches of natural
vegetation, avoid unnecessary disturbance
How can agricultural landscapes provide
these features, while increasing production?
Science Supporting Ecoagriculture
• Scientific advances in agroecology, wildlife
biology, molecular biology, genetics, hydrology
• New research techniques (e.g., remote sensing,
systems modeling, biochemical markers)
• New tools for ecosystem and landscape analysis
• Improved methods for on-farm and landscapescale action research
• New tools to assist multi-stakeholder diagnosis,
negotiation, planning and assessment
Emerging Principles 1: Terrestrial Habitats
 Maintain natural vegetation with adequate
patch size and connectivity (depends on sinks,
ecological traps, location, configuration, edge
effects, boundary zones, ecological
compatibility of production areas)
 Protect natural fragments that serve as critical
habitat on/off farm from anthropic disturbance
 Retain tree cover on farms for connectivity
 Harvest wild products from natural habitats
using low-impact, sustainable methods
 Ensure farmers and communities benefit from
stewardship of conserved areas
Emerging Principles 2: Freshwater Habitats
 Maintain or restore native vegetation buffers
(in US- width of 25 meters for nutrient and pollutant removal; 30 m for
microclimate regulation and sediment removal; 50 m for detrital input and
bank stabilization; over 100 m for wildlife habitat functions)
 Protect wetlands and maintain critical function
zone in natural vegetation (In US- at least 10% of watershed
and 6% of any sub-watershed)
 Re-establish hydrological connectivity & natural
patterns of aquatic ecosystems (incl. flooding)
 Protect watersheds with spatial configuration of
perennial natural, planted vegetation
 Maintain continuous year-round soil cover to
enhance rainfall infiltration
Emerging Principles 3: Ecologically
Compatible Agricultural Production –
Intensification without Simplification
 Reduce agricultural pollution
Manage pests, diseases, nutrients using ecological principles
Minimize run-off of toxic chemicals, nutrients and wastes
 Ecologically manage soil,water,natural vegetation
Maintain biologically healthy soils, and year-round soil cover
Time operations to minimize disturbance to wild species
Manage irrigation systems to save water for wildlife
 Use crop mixtures and configurations that mimic
the structure and function of natural habitats
Ensure diverse crop mix at a landscape scale
Ensure diverse mix of varieties/breeds at a landscape scale
Use mix of annual and perennial crops that mimic natural vegetation
Maintain diverse land use mosaic
 Improve productivity to free other areas of the
farm or landscape for nature protection
Emerging Principles 4: Achieving Positive
Synergies for Agricultural Production
• Increase input efficiency
• Enhance biological and
ecological synergies
• Improve spatial
organization of land use
• Manage wild species to
benefit farming
• Economies of scale through collective action
• Substitute natural capital for financial capital
Building on Traditional Production Systems:
Multi-Species Agroforests in Indonesia
- 70-90% of species
of natural forests
- 4 million ha in Indonesia
- Many commercial spp
- Mosaic with rice
- $2 billion value of
rubber agroforests alone
Building on Industrial Production Systems:
Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, S. Africa
- No loss of habitat
- Ecologically compatible practices
- Reduced cash costs
- Link to market brands and
Institutional Challenges to Implement
Collective action within communities
Multi-stakeholder landscape forums
Cross-sectoral knowledge-sharing and research
Marketing chains for biodiverse products
Institutions developed for PES
Coordinated agriculture-conservation policy
Supportive tenure systems for farmland and PAs
Building Ecoagriculture
Communities of Practice
1) Understand How Ecoagriculture Works
Document Cases of Ecoagriculture
Monitor Ecoagriculture Landscapes
Mobilize Ecoagriculture Research
2) Promote Learning Among
Ecoagriculture Innovators
Community Ecoagriculture Knowledge Service
Ecoagriculture Leadership Course
Ecoagriculture Working Groups
3) Promote Policies and Markets
that Support Ecoagriculture
 Int’l and National Policies
Incorporate Ecoagriculture
(incl. MDGs, MEAs)
 Product Market
 Payments for Ecosystem
Services in Ecoagriculture
Thank you!
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