TIPWG newsletter March/April: New targets to protect biodiversity must include farmers and agriculture

In a brilliant article by Anja Gassner, Global Landscapes Forum science advisor and Senior Scientist World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Philip Dobiee Senior Fellow, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and Terry Sunderland, Professor in the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, the authors make a bold statement:

‘The UN Convention on Biological Diversity – a legally-binding international treaty – currently negotiating new targets for the next 30 years is about to make a mistake.’

If true, this is a mistake that will have huge ramifications on the conservation of global biodiversity. So, what is the mistake?

The new targets fail to recognize the potential of managing agricultural landscapes for biodiversity, instead, the concentration is primarily on already protected areas. The authors make the point that in its “modified zero draft” released in October, of the 20 targets only one refers to agricultural and other managed ecosystems and here the focus is on biodiversity of food.

As a result, the document misses the point that agroecosystems can contribute to conservation by providing habitat to wild species through harbouring fragments of natural habitats, such as indigenous forests and wetlands. A sentiment echoed by the South African Forestry Industry.

The authors argue the need to look beyond formally protected areas, which cover only a limited percentage of the world’s land and sea mass and recognize the importance of agriculture for conservation which they see as, “the best way to protect Africa’s biodiversity.. …integrating conservation measures into working land, which will also create jobs and income opportunities for farming communities.” By drawing attention away from this huge stock of land, the authors point out that the International Treaty misses the opportunity to bring ministries of agriculture and the environment together to tackle one of the biggest challenges of the decade.


Photo credit: David Everard

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