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Agrobiodiversity goes beyond crops. It includes crops, animals, fish and wild plants used by people in agricultural landscapes. It encompasses biodiversity in the wider agro-ecosystem and provides important ecosystem services. Agrobiodiversity is not just ”out there”, it is a result of the continuously changing relationship between farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, fishers and their natural environment. Many conservation and development actors do not take this complex relationship into account, as reflected in the debate on “land sharing and land sparing”. This binary framework largely ignores the different components of agrobiodiversity and related land-use issues. In this newsletter we present some of the findings of our project Agrobiodiversity, Land and People and the new project booklet.
A landscape for agrobiodiversity in Thailand. Photo credit: PAR 2015.
In focus: Agrobiodiversity, Land and People
Land-use decisions that affect agrobiodiversity have direct impact on livelihoods, resilience and food sovereignty of local communities. Land grabbing and resource acquisition, including those by conservation agencies, often lead to the removal or simplification of local production systems and consequent loss of agrobiodiversity and services it provides (e.g. loss of pollinators). Securing Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ land rights is a key issue for promoting agrobiodiversity use for resilient agroecological systems.
The conservation debate on land sharing and land sparing does not sufficiently take into account the needs of local communities and how sharing or sparing will affect agrobiodiversity, ecosystem services and adaptive capacity of agricultural and pastoral landscapes.
Assessing the effects of land-use change on agrobiodiversity
PAR’s interdisciplinary project, funded by The Christensen Fund, involves eight partners and young researchers from different backgrounds. As part of the project, a framework was developed to examine the effects of land-use change on agrobiodiversity. Using participatory methods, the project aimed to contribute to a better understanding the processes of innovation and adaptation in territories managed by local and indigenous communities. Here are some key project messages based on the findings that are described in more detail in the Landscapes for Agrobiodiversity booklet and study site posters.
- Multiple drivers of land conversion and agrobiodiversity loss were identified in the eight sites. These include changes in land ownership, introduction of commercial crops, migration, urbanization and climate change.
- Land and ecosystem restoration was identified by the communities as important ways of dealing with degradation of pastures, forests and wetlands. Supporting and enabling these ways will be important to confer resilience in the future.
- Local institutions play a central role in adaptive management. Successful implementation of restoration and diversification will require adaptive management of agrobiodiversity through local institutions such as forest-user groups, sacred sites and grazing management plans. Our findings convey a message of the urgent need to strengthen local institutions.
In our next project phase young researchers together with local partners will share the findings with communities, and look into possible community action plans for adaptive land-use and agrobiodiversity management. Follow us on social media and PAR website to stay updated!
Other organizations working on issues of land and agrobiodiversity
➞ La Via Campesina – International Peasant Movement
➞ Forest Peoples Programme
➞ ICCA Consortium
➞ Land Rights Now
➞ International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC). 2016. People’s Manual on the Guidelines on Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests. The guidelines provide a global exhaustive tool on the tenure of land and natural resources developed through an open interngovernmental process with the full and active participation of an array of relevant actors.
➞ Rights and Resouces Initiative (RRI). 2015. Who Owns the World’s Land? A global baseline of formally recognized indigenous and community land rights. Washington, DC. RRI analysis conducted on 82% of the global land area shows that in reality Indigenous Peoples and local communities (around 1.5 billion people) own 65% of the world’s land area, but that legally their rights are recognized on 18% of the world’s land.
➞ Oxfam GB. 2016. Custodians of the Land, Defenders of our Future: A New Era in the Global Land Rush. This briefing is dedicated to Berta Cáceres and other land rights defenders who have been killed for their cause. It sets out the struggle as epitomized by Miranda, the Garífuna people she represents, and the thousands of other indigenous and community groups fighting for their land rights around the world.
➞ Nyeleni Europe Forum for Food Sovereignty, 26- 30 October 2016, Cluj Napoca, Romania
➞ 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress, November 6-9 2016, New Delhi, India
➞ COP13, 4-17 December, Cancun, Mexico
PAR research team visiting Pgaz K’ Nyau, Thailand – of the eight study sites. Photo credit: PAR 2015
We welcome comments on this newsletter and your contribution on any topic relevant to agrobiodiversity!