Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

This member contributed to:

    • Mr. Michael Commons

      Earth Net Foundation/ Agricultural Biodiversity Community / Terra Genesis Interational

      Wanakaset Forest Gardening, a Thai system of integrated polycultures that mimics and parallels natural forests while including valued food and economic crops and building and restoring knowledge of the values of all species whether planted or which come in the ecological regeneration process,  as documented, not only contain a high diversity of species in the system, but provide habitat, fodder, favorable microclimate and conditions for pollinators and wildlife.    In the last decades, where these systems are centered around a key economic crop, such as coffee, cacao, rubber, or coconuts, that integrates well in these forest garden polycultures improving quality and productivity- particularly when faced with climatic stress, these practices and their recognition and adoption by farmer communities has started to take off.      As these systems also provide multiple yields both for home- family use, local markets, and larger markets, and require little to no external inputs once established,  they reduce costs, increase household income and economic resilience in particular, and promote nutritional security and community self-reliance (for food, herbal medicine, materials)   These systems while innovative and adaptable, draw from a long body of practice and knowledge- such as the "Som Rom" forest garden practices of Southern Thailand, that connect with very similar systems in other parts of wet tropical South and SE Asia.   Similar practices can be observed in other parts of the world such as the Maya Forest Gardens of Guatemala and Belize, a living tradition  / practice well documented by Dr. Anabel Ford.

    • Mr. Michael Commons

      Earth Net Foundation/ Agricultural Biodiversity Community / Terra Genesis Interational

      Biodiversity is contributing in achieving food security and improved nutrition?

      While I think this is obvious, from many years working with small-scale farmers in SE Asia on "rice-based farming systems"  helping them convert to "organic" (agroecological) methods which support ecological health and abstain from chemical use.   It is clear this shift brings a quick and impressive return of the diverse flora and fauna that live in healthy rice ecosystems.   Fish are usually the most valued resource that returns, but also shrimp, crabs, good tasting snails and diverse wild vegetables (edible weeds).  All of this is natural biodiversity that is oppressed in a chemical intensive system but which returns with agroecological management and provides valued secondary - highly nutritional yields.  Beyond this these farming systems promote increased integration, (and thus increased agricultural biodiversity).  Bunds are not sprayed with herbicide but often widened and used to plant small fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables- providing additional healthy food.   While perhaps not a key point here, our project also identified many factors from these more diversified ecological "Rice-based Farming Systems" promoting increase resilience - specifically climate change resilence.   Diversity of yields is one of these factors.

      In terms of Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Agriculture (and more)

      As part of a collaborative effort of the Agricultural Biodiversity Community with Ileia / Farming Matters magazine we develop the March 2014 issue "Cultivating Diversity"   I think all of this issue (attached below) is relevant to your topic.

      The article I submitted on pages 24-25, looks at what has been limiting the expansion of biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices.  

      Now 4 years later, while I still feel what I have written is valid, I see much more of a deteriorization of the (traditional) knowledge on how to use the diverse resources in diverse agroecological / forest garden systems.  (Such as bamboo varieties for building, for cooking with, for weaving, for making ties, for eating, etc)  or the many dye plants, many traditional herbs, many wild/ perennial vegetables.   This links strongly with aging farmers whose children and grandchildren are not involved in farming.   And then with how biodiverse farming can provide a good livelihood for capable young people. 

      While we have many good examples that are working well,  I am aware of some limitations and needs.  Such as a greater availability of small-scale appropriate technology / machinery for working in biodiverse farming systems such as forest gardens that could help with increase labor constraints everywhere.

      Where a (sustainable) production system played a key role for the conservation of the biodiversity surrounding it?

      From my experience what is known as "Forest Gardening" or "Organic Agroforestry" has perhaps the most impressive role in conservation of biodiversity for land-based systems.   In our network it is normal to have more than 100 intentionally grown "crops" in these systems.  However for scaling up (and which is the case with our gardens and most in our network)  one or more "key economic crops" is within the forest system (along with a high diversity of food crops, herbs, spices, hardwood trees, etc.)  

      Well-documented are the Forest Gardens of Sri Lanka.   In terms of watershed/ forest restoration on a larger scale, the success of the Organic Forest Coffee Project initiated by Earth Net Foundation in Chiang Rai province, led to the signing of an MOU with Khuechae National Park and Lam Nam Kok National Park in 2016 to revitalize and restore the degraded forest of the National Park- an area of  3,200 hectares over 10 years together (2016- 2025) through the practice of Organic Agroforestry.  Coffee is the key (understory) economic crop.

      An article I wrote (link below) describes the forest gardening system of farmer colleague Ms. Kanya Duchita in Chantaburi with key economic crops of Para rubber and tropcial fruits (Durian +) that co-exist with wild elephants (and many other wildlife).