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Focus on... Biodiversity

The natural wealth on which we all depend for our food, fibre, and fuel is under threat. The planet's plant, animal and ecosystem diversity is being lost at a rate faster than any time since the demise of the dinosaurs, states an IIED briefing. At the Rio Earth Summit in 2002, governments made a pledge to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 by agreeing to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Sadly, like so many other international pledges, this is yet one more that governments worldwide have failed to meet.

With the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, governments are being urged to renew their commitment to curb the rising extinction of species and the degradation of ecosystem services, including the air and water without which none of us can survive. In this edition of New Agriculturist, we focus on various aspects of agricultural biodiversity, including traditional and modern methods of conserving, using and protecting vital genetic and ecosystem resources. From the Pacific to Paraguay, Madagascar to Mali, we provide a glimpse of the rich genetic heritage to which we all belong - and which many in agricultural development work to protect.

Model behaviour - the race to conserve crop wild relatives

Model behaviour - the race to conserve crop wild relatives

An innovative way of searching for crop wild relatives has been discovered and put to use by a team of CGIAR scientists. Their methods are helping to fill vital gaps in gene banks around the world and to pinpoint valuable genetic material which is under threat.

Date published: March 2010

Biocultural protocols: empowering stewards of livestock diversity

Biocultural protocols: empowering stewards of livestock diversity

In a bid to protect the grazing rights upon which their livelihoods depend, the Raika pastoralists of Rajasthan have documented the complex links between their animal genetic resources and ecosystem health in a biocultural protocol.

Date published: March 2010

Safeguarding Madagascar's biodiversity

Safeguarding Madagascar's biodiversity

Renowned for its unique biodiversity, Madagascar's ecosystems are under threat from deforestation, insecurity, and climate change. Recognising the importance of indigenous knowledge in conservation, the management of protected resources is being handed back to local communities.

Date published: March 2010

Thailand's Karen rotational farmers seek recognition as stewards of biodiversity

Thailand's Karen rotational farmers seek recognition as stewards of biodiversity

Indigenous communities in the Thai highlands are enlisting culture and identity to negotiate an end to the government's ban on their unique methods of rotational farming. Utilising biodiversity and local knowledge, communities are able to cultivate food while allowing the forest to flourish.

Date published: March 2010

Agrobiodiversity challenges in the Pacific

Agrobiodiversity challenges in the Pacific

The Pacific islands face some unique challenges, and this is certainly true when it comes to agrobiodiversity. As well as safety conserving the region's genetic resources, the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees is working with country partners on crop improvement programmes.

Date published: March 2010

Conserving wild plants in West Africa

Conserving wild plants in West Africa

In the Sahel regions of Burkina Faso and Mali, prolonged droughts, bush-fires and over-exploitation have led to a depletion of useful plants. In addition to identifying and conserving the seeds of these threatened species, the Millennium Seed Bank partnership is helping local communities sustainably use and propogate them.

Date published: March 2010

Cooking up success for local foods in Pohnpei

Cooking up success for local foods in Pohnpei

A successful multimedia 'Go Local' campaign is yielding results and encouraging Pacific island communities in the Federated States of Micronesia to value and revert back to a more nutritious diet based on their indigenous food system.

Date published: March 2010

 

 

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