Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
 

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

 

Biodiversity - the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels - is necessary to sustain key functions of the ecosystem, its structure and processes. Biodiversity for food and agriculture can be managed to maintain or enhance ecosystem functions to provide options for the optimization of agricultural production, and contribute to the resilience of ecosystems for risk mitigation. Indeed, biodiversity enhances ecosystem services because those components that appear redundant at one point in time become important when changes occur.

©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Biodiversity is an important regulator of agro-ecosystem functions, not only in the strictly biological sense of impact on production, but also in satisfying a variety of needs of the farmer and society at large. Agroecosystem managers, including farmers, can build upon, enhance and manage the essential ecosystem services provided by biodiversity in order to work towards sustainable agricultural production.

This can be achieved though good farming practices which follow ecosystem-based approaches designed to improve sustainability of production systems. They aim at meeting consumer needs for products that are nutritious, of high quality, safe and produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in cropping systems both above and below ground (e.g. soil biodiversity) are part of the foundation of sustainable farming practices. The composition and diversity of planned biodiversity strongly influences the nature of the associated diversity - plant, animal (for example, wild pollinators) and microbial.

 

©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

FAO Expert Workshop on Perennial Crops for Food Security
28 – 30 August 2013
FAO Headquaters