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Focus on... Ecosystem services

Food, clean drinking water, fuel, fibre, even the air we breathe are all supported by the ecosystems upon which humans depend. These and other benefits, such as conserving biodiversity, efficiency of nutrient cycling and the health of soil, are all affected by how ecosystems are managed. A major challenge is to recognise and value the benefits provided by ecosystems, and to provide incentive schemes to ensure that smallholder farmers and foresters are supported to sustain these vital services.

In this edition of New Agriculturist, we focus on a selection of initiatives and approaches that are helping to support sustainable ecosystems and the services they provide. From biodiversity to bats, water and landscapes, we feature the multiple services that ecosystems provide and some of the means for paying farmers to sustain them.

A further selection of articles highlighting initiatives that further enhance ecosystem services in agriculture are presented in the new Research and Innovations section, supported by the Global Forum for Agriculture (GFAR).

Making a PAC: payments for agrobiodiversity conservation services

Making a PAC: payments for agrobiodiversity conservation services

Genetic diversity of crops within species is very narrow and existing agrobiodiversity is being lost at a rapid rate. However, a recent pilot scheme to pay farmers for conserving traditional crop varieties has provided a promising way to stem the loss.

Date published: January 2012

Investing in environmental services

Investing in environmental services

Blamed for serious increases in erosion through conversion of forest to coffee, thousands of farmers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra were evicted from their land in the 1990s. However, armed with research which revealed that coffee farms controlled erosion, ICRAF has been working with local stakeholders on projects that reward smallscale farmers for providing environmental services.

Date published: January 2012

Watersheds: a common destiny for survival

Watersheds: a common destiny for survival

Kenya's Green Belt Movement has shifted to planning and implementing its community reforestation activities at the watershed level, looking past political boundaries to the water that flows beneath.

Date published: January 2012

A guide to living with bats

A guide to living with bats

A new FAO manual on a One Health approach to managing the threat of bat-borne disease also recognises the importance of bats in protecting, pollinating, dispersing and fertilising plants.

Date published: January 2012

Sustainable development of bio-products

Sustainable development of bio-products

In Kenya, the arid and semi-arid regions of Laikipia and Samburu are rich in biodiversity. Desert Edge is helping pastoralists develop products from indigenous natural ingredients to diversify and supplement their livestock-based incomes.

Date published: January 2012

Protecting Bolivia's delicate ecosystems

Protecting Bolivia's delicate ecosystems

In Bolivia's remote Chaco region, poor natural resource management coupled with changes in the climate are making family farming a very risky business. However, after eight years, a US$15 million project has helped improve the livelihoods of nearly 20,000 poor rural families by promoting terrace farming and competition to support eco-friendly development, sustainable poverty reduction and environmental stewardship.

Date published: January 2012

 

 

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