Protected area management, including biodiversity conservation and local community participation (especially of indigenous people) are main discussion themes of the protected areas constituency. Although relationships and alliances between local communities and conservationists are considered (IUCN, 2002), what is less addressed are options for sustainable livelihoods within and around protected areas. Farmers and forest dwellers are the main inhabitants and users of protected areas as well as lands connecting these areas. In protected area categories where agricultural activities are allowed, there is need to consider productive activities which provide livelihoods in an equitable and environmentally-friendly way.
The ability of organic agriculture, ecoforestry and sustainable forest management to build self-generating food systems and connectedness between protected areas is addressed in this paper. Also, farmers' involvement in income-generating activities such as agro-ecotourism, is considered. This paper argues that integrated landscape planning is necessary for the effective management of protected areas and that multi-sectoral policy and planning, including the agriculture, forestry, tourism and environment sectors, have a role to play in such a collaborative resource management. The ultimate objective is to recognize the interdependence between sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation and in so doing, promoting options that address food and livelihood needs while protecting the natural heritage.
The aims of protected areas and approaches to their management have recently expanded. Land managers can use protected areas as a tool for a wide range of functions. Among the six IUCN protected area categories, Categories V and VI recognize that maintenance of biodiversity is not always the primary reason for protection and that (management) choices may be determined by cultural values, environmental management, sustainable land use and recreational needs. In particular, these categories are suited for sustainable use by indigenous communities, tourism and small-scale agriculture.
The definition of protected areas as "an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means" implies that management of protected areas is inclusive of government-sponsored reserves, indigenous communities or private landowners. Control and management by stakeholders concerned have proven to be effective while providing livelihoods to local communities (Dudley, 1998).
Protected area categories
Category Ia: Nature reserve
Strict nature reserve/wilderness protection area managed mainly for science or wilderness protection - an area of land and/or sea possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological or physical features and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring.
Category Ib: Wilderness area
Protected area managed mainly for wilderness protection - large area of unmodified land or sea, retaining its natural characteristics and influence, without permanent or significant habitation, which is protected and managed to preserve its natural condition.
Category II: National park
Protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation - natural area of land and/or sea designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area, and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.
Category III: Natural monument
Protected area managed mainly for conservation of specific natural features - area containing specific natural or natural/cultural feature(s) of outstanding or unique value because of their inherent rarity, representativeness, aesthetic qualities or cultural significance.
Category IV: Habitat/species management area
Protected area managed mainly for conservation through management intervention - area of land and/or sea subject to active intervention for management purposes as to ensure the maintenance of habitats to meet the requirements of specific species.
Category V: Protected landscape/seascape
Protected area managed mainly for landscape/seascape conservation and recreation area of land, with coast and sea as appropriate, where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, ecological and/or cultural value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance and evolution of such an area.
Category VI: Managed resource protected area
Protected area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems - an area containing predominantly unmodified natural systems, managed to ensure long-term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet community needs.
Source: IUCN, 1994
The focus of protected area management has shifted away from individual protected areas towards protected area networks, as part of wider landscape. The effectiveness of protected area management depends on this network as well as on the type of land use in between these areas: islands of biodiversity in an otherwise degraded landscape will not fulfil protection objectives. Opportunities for conservation of biodiversity outside protected areas include links between protected areas through corridors and provision of environments free of pollutants, especially but not exclusively, along migration pathways.
Protected areas cover only about 10 percent of the earth's cover: 45 percent of the world's protected areas maintain 30 percent or more of their land in agriculture (McNeely and Scherr, 2001). Most wild plants and animals live outside protected areas, often in agriculture-dominated landscapes: about 30 percent of the global land surface is occupied by crop and managed pasture lands (Wood et al., 2000). People live inside and near protected areas and use land, plants and animals to meet their basic livelihood needs. Depending on the type of management practices, farmers and foresters will have varying impacts on habitat quality, which can increase or decrease pressure on biodiversity within and around protected areas.
Over the last century, population, market pressures and the development of new agricultural technologies have encouraged patterns of agricultural development tending towards agricultural intensification (i.e. increasing scales of monoculture production, intensive mechanical tillage, irrigation, and the use of synthetic fertilizer, pest control agents and a restricted diversity of crop and livestock varieties), often leading to natural resources degradation. The growing food demand by a wealthier and larger global population is expected to induce further encroachment of agriculture on unmodified ecosystems (10 billion hectares by 2050), with inevitable negative impact on biodiversity (WEHAB, 2002).
The majority of the human population increase is expected to take place in the biodiversity-rich developing countries of the tropics (e.g. the Caribbean, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats of India), where 19 out of 21 regions of concentrated biodiversity ("biodiversity hot-spots") and human population in these areas is increasing faster than anywhere else). These areas of high population growth (many of which lie adjacent to protected areas) are also experiencing rapid changes towards urbanization where demand for agricultural products is expected to increase as income levels in these areas rise. The anticipated result of such demographic changes is that increased production pressures will be placed on both the wild lands and the agricultural production systems in and around protected areas (McNeeley and Scherr, 2003).
The simplification of agro-ecosystems to monoculture production and the removal of non-crop vegetation from the farm unit (e.g. hedgerows, shelter belts and field margins) has contributed to the homogeneity of agricultural landscapes by reducing botanical and structural variation, resulting in both a reduced capacity of agricultural areas to serve as habitat for wild species as well as to effectively internally regulate populations of pests and disease causing organisms which affect crop productivity (Soil Association, 2000; Defra, 2003). This has resulted in a widespread decline in farm species abundance and diversity across many taxonomic groupings, including high rates of wildlife mortality and reduced reproductive success of many species (Stolton et al., 1999; Gliessman, 1999; Kegley, 1999; Edge 2000; Soil Association 2000; Bugg and Trenham, 2003, Benton et al., 2003). This loss of biodiversity has also resulted in a reduced capacity of agro-ecosystems to perform many essential ecosystem functions such as purification of water, internal regulation of pests and diseases, carbon sequestration, and degradation of toxic compounds (Altieri, 1999).
Elevated nitrogen and phosphorus levels in aquatic ecosystems have led to extensive eutrophication and degradation of freshwater and marine ecosystems in many areas where agriculture is concentrated. Synthetically compounded nitrogen fertilizer poses multiple risks to both wildlife populations and human health. Dissolved nitrate levels of 2 ppm or greater are known to interfere with normal development of amphibians with levels above 10 ppm known to be lethal (Environment Canada 2002; Bugg and Trenham, 2003).
The use of pesticides (i.e. herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and insecticides) poses both known and unknown risks to biodiversity, impacting wildlife on many different levels, from direct to indirect lethality to non-lethal but severely debilitating effects. Each of these impacts has the potential to interfere with the reproductive success of wildlife and further reduce the habitat quality and biodiversity of agricultural and surrounding ecosystems (Edge, 2000). It is estimated that 70-90 percent of ground applied pesticides and 25-50 percent of aerially applied pesticide reach their target (WWF, 1999). The remaining amount is released into surrounding ecosystems and enters the food chain, affecting animal populations at every trophic level (Gliessman, 1999). Over 672 million birds are exposed to pesticides each year in California alone with an estimated 10 percent of these animals dying from this exposure. Birds exposed to sublethal doses of pesticides are often afflicted with chronic symptoms that affect their behaviour and reproductive success (Kegley, 1999). Pesticides are also known to negatively affect insect pest-predator population dynamics in agro-ecosystems (Landis, 2002) and to disproportionately effect insect predator populations, resulting in pest population resurgences and the development of genetic resistance of pests to pesticides (Flint, 1998). In addition, endocrine-disrupting compounds found in many pesticides still in use pose an additional and unknown long-term risk to wild biodiversity. Significant evidence of endocrine disruption from pesticide exposure has been documented for many different taxonomic groups including: birds, reptiles, fish, snails and oysters resulting in adverse effects to growth, development, or reproduction (US/EPA, 1997; Environment Canada, 2000).
Recent studies have also provided evidence of the impacts and risks to agro-ecosystems and wild biodiversity from genetically engineered crops. Transgenic crops pose a suite of ecological risks to native and cultivated ecosystems through: the spread of transgenes to related wild types via crop-weed hybridization; reduction of the fitness of non-target organisms; the evolution of resistance of insect pests to pesticide producing crops; soil accumulation of the insecticides produced by transgenic crops; unanticipated effects on non-target herbivorous insects; and the creation of new pathogenic organisms via horizontal gene transfer and recombination (Altieri, 2001).
Considering the above processes, it appears that agriculture management will have a considerable impact on the structure, composition and quality of the landscape that predominate in and around protected areas. The simplification and pollution of agro-ecosystems must be avoided or countered by adopting chemical-free and diversified agricultural systems to reverse the decline in species and habitat diversity in and around protected areas.
Due to the predominant agriculture's negative impact on biodiversity, conservation groups and protected area managers have historically viewed agricultural activities as being in conflict with stated conservation goals (McNeely and Scherr, 2003). This view has often led to attempts by protected area managers at excluding agricultural and other productive activities from protected areas. Similarly, community members in and around protected areas have often viewed measures to conserve biodiversity (e.g. land takings or land and/or water use restrictions) as a threat to personal freedom, livelihoods and the economic viability of their agricultural enterprises. The imposition of such restrictions has often led to real conflicts between protected area managers and farmers.
This perceived and actual antagonism has been compounded by the historic strategies of protected area management that have tended to marginalize the economic, social and political interests of community members around protected areas by excluding them from land management decision-making processes that effect their lives (FAO/UNEP, 1999). Additionally, strategies of excluding agriculture from protected areas have often fallen short of conservation objectives as many species require human-induced disturbances created by agriculture and other land use activities (Didier Le Coeur, 2002). On the other hand, agriculturalists in and around protected areas are often directly impacted by wildlife. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that annual losses from wildlife damage to crops are 1 billion dollars each year (USDA 2002). In developing nations the losses of crops to wildlife are often even more significant and potentially life threatening, with large game animals disturbing fields of staple crop and small rodents causing considerable damage to post-harvest staple goods (McNeely and Scherr, 2003).
Recently, agriculturalists have become more aware of the value of the biodiversity "input" for agriculture. The ecological functions of diverse ecosystems (such as balanced predation, pollination, nutrient cycling, degradation of toxic compounds, carbon sequestration) are today recognized to be central to sustainable food production. Moving away from simplified agricultural systems offers opportunities to produce food while enhancing natural landscapes.
After decades of struggle, only recently have conservation biologists, protected area managers, agriculturalists and policy makers begun to recognize the biodiversity contribution and potential of agricultural landscapes and started working together in developing strategies to effectively integrate these two land-use activities which will increasingly occupy the same areas of land. However, much research remains to be done in developing agro-ecosystems that serve both human needs and biodiversity.