Environment and Natural Resources Service
THE SCOPE OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE,
Environment and Natural Resources
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
© FAO 2004
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Table of contents
1. AGRICULTURE AND NATURE CONSERVATION: CONNECTIONS
1.1 Islands of protected areas in agricultural landscapes
1.2 Pressure placed by agriculture on biodiversity
1.3 Antagonistic views on agriculture development and biodiversity conservation in protected areas
2. BENEFITS FROM ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN AND AROUND PROTECTED AREAS
2.1 Ecological principles behind organic agriculture
2.2 Reduction of agricultural pollutants
2.3 Creation of habitats
3. COMPLEMENTARY STRATEGIES
3.1 Landscape planning to further reduce habitat fragmentation
3.2 Agro-ecotourism to further sustain rural areas
3.3 Ecoforestry and sustainable forest management
4. CHALLENGES FOR THE EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF PROTECTED AREAS
4.1 Generation and dissemination of ecological knowledge
4.2 Market and capital incentives
4.3 Governance and collaborative management
Areas for consideration
ANNEX: CASE STUDIES FROM PROTECTED AREA LANDSCAPES
Example 1. Organic agriculture for the protection of endangered wildlife, Altintas, Turkey
Example 2. Organic rice in coastal wetlands of El Ebro Delta, Spain
Example 3. Organic cacao agro-forestry in the Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor, Costa Rica
Example 4. Organic and shade coffee in the buffer zone between El Imposible and Los Volcanes National Parks, El Salvador
Example 5. Landscape ecology and participatory planning in Ba Be National Park, Vietnam
Example 6. Ecoforestry in the Solomon Islands
Example 7. Eco-organic holiday farms in protected areas of Italy
Reconciling food production and nature conservation is a challenge shared by all. This document stresses the need to maximize the contribution of protected areas to food security and poverty alleviation through soundlymanaged agriculture.
Farmers and forest dwellers, including a large proportion of indigenous people, are the main inhabitants and users of protected areas, as well as lands connecting these areas. In fact, 30 percent of land is occupied by agriculture and pastures and another 30 percent of Earth surface is occupied by forests. Protected areas occupy today some 10 percent of Earth cover, in a landscape dominated by the agriculture sector. Even within certain protected area categories, much land is used for agriculture (i.e. 30 percent of categories V and VI). More importantly, connecting areas between protected areas run through croplands, pastures and forests - which globally occupy over 60 percent of earth surface.
Despite this high interdependence, community approaches to protected area management touch on the periphery of agricultural activities. Encouraging sustainable management of agriculture and forestry, within and around protected areas can reverse the trend of negative threats to protected areas, while allowing local residents to derive livelihoods from their lands. Creating a link between protected areas and poverty alleviation should not be limited to sharing conservation benefits in the form of visitors' fees and the like but by investing in sustainable productive activities.
The contribution of organic agriculture, sustainable forest management as well as agriculture-based ecotourism meets this challenge head-on by:
Evidence suggests that organic agriculture and sustainable forest management not only produce commodities but build self-generating food systems and connectedness between protected areas. The widespread expansion of these approaches, along with their integration in landscape planning, would be a cost efficient policy option for biodiversity.
Keywords: organic agriculture, sustainable forest management, ecoforestry, ecotourism, protected areas, biodiversity, landscape planning.
This paper was prepared on the occasion of the Ninth Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, Canada, 10-14 November 2003 and was made available as an information document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/36) to support the agenda item on protected areas.
This document was written by Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Senior Officer (Environment and Sustainable Development) together with Douglas Williamson, Forestry Officer (Wildlife and Protected Area Management).
The authors are thankful to the contributions and insights of: Christian Melis, Mette Loyche-Wilkie, Cristina Micheloni and Peter Kenmore.
Cover photo: Millet cultivation under Acacia Albida, Mali. Photo FAO/15859/R.Faidutti