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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries and forestry for improved food security and better nutrition

Maria Tsiafouli
Maria TsiafouliAristotle UniversityGreece

2) All agricultural sectors (crop and livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) rely on biodiversity and on the ecosystem functions and services, they underpin. At the same time, these sectors may affect biodiversity through various direct and indirect drivers.

Biodiversity plays a decisive role in ecosystem functioning. The most neglected part of biodiversity, namely soil biodiversity, provides significant ecosystem services, including processes related to nutrient cycling, but is affected by land use type. Specifically, extensive studies in agricultural areas across Europe with variable climatic conditions (de Vries et al. 2013, Tsiafouli et al. 2015) have shown that land use systems, such as intensive wheat rotations including annual tillage, consistently reduce biomass and diversity of several groups of soil organisms irrespective of soil abiotic properties.

3) Good governance, enabling frameworks, and stewardship initiatives are needed to facilitate mainstreaming of biodiversity within and across agricultural sectors.

Our study (Tsiafouli et al. 2013) has shown that agricultural activities, regarding crops, livestock and forestry, are present in 86% of sites belonging to the Natura 2000 network (European network of areas for nature conservation). Taking into consideration that agriculture relies on biodiversity but also affects biodiversity, there is a need for a closer cooperation between initiatives of both the agricultural as well as the conservation sector. A common goal would be to both conserve biodiversity but also optimize the delivery of multiple ecosystem services. A Frontiers research topic (Tsiafouli et al. 2017) shows how biodiversity/ecosystem based management regimes can enhance both agricultural production and the provision of multiple ecosystem services.


De Vries F.T., E. Thébault, M. Liiri, K. Birkhofer, M.A. Tsiafouli, L. Bjørnlund, H.B. Jørgensen, M.V. Brady, S. Christensen,  P.C. De Ruiter, T. D'Hertefeldt, J. Frouz, K. Hedlund, L. Hemerik, W.H.G. Hol, S. Hotes., S.R. Mortimer, H. Setälä, S.P. Sgardelis, K. Uteseny, W.H. Van Der Putten, V. Wolters & R.D. Bardgett (2013). Soil food web properties explain ecosystem services across European land use systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110: 14296-14301.

Tsiafouli M.A., E. Thébault, S.P. Sgardelis, P.C. De Ruiter, W.H. Van Der Putten, K. Birkhofer, L. Hemerik, F.T. De Vries, R.D. Bardgett, M.V. Brady, L. Bjornlund, H.B. Jørgensen, S. Christensen, T. D'Hertefeldt, S. Hotes, W.H. Hol, J. Frouz, M. Liiri, S.R. Mortimer, H. Setälä, J. Tzanopoulos, K. Uteseny, V. Pižl, J. Stary, V. Wolters, & K. Hedlund (2015). Intensive agriculture reduces soil biodiversity across Europe.  Global Change Biololgy 21, 973–985.

Tsiafouli M.A., E.G. Drakou, A. Orgiazzi, K. Hedlund & K. Ritz (2017) Editorial: Optimizing the Delivery of Multiple Ecosystem Goods and Services in Agricultural Systems. Frontiers in Ecology &  Evolution 5:97.

Tsiafouli M.A., E. Apostolopoulou, A. Mazaris, A. Kallimanis, E. Drakou & J. Pantis (2013). Human activities in Natura 2000 sites: a highly diversified conservation network. Environmental Management 51:1025-33.