Using agro-ecosystems in conservation management

Promoting agro-ecological approaches to biodiversity conservation
The conservation and sustainable use of agro-ecosystems and their interface with other ecosystems.

The maintenance and further development of farming with a view to optimising its positive impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; recognising and supporting the role of farming communities in the creation and maintenance of semi-natural habitats; taking into consideration the positive role of non-intensive agricultural systems for wildlife and wild plants habitats; and optimising the positive impacts of agricultural practices and production systems on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In particular, the maintenance of some well established traditional methods of extensive agriculture, sometimes in marginal areas, is essential to preserve the value that such areas have for biodiversity.

Agriculture is an important element of the ecosystems where it takes place. Sometimes it also influences other ecosystems in the surroundings or downstream. In both cases interactions can be positive or negative for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Agriculture has played and continues to play a major role in the diversity of ecosystems and in the creation and maintenance of semi-natural ecosystems.

The mitigation of negative impacts of agricultural activities on biodiversity. In particular, certain land use practices, the use of agro-chemicals, the overgrazing and pollution consequences of excessive livestock intensity, monoculture, the elimination of wetlands and hedgerows, and the use of heavy machinery, has serious effects for biodiversity. Pesticides, for example, can have a negative effect on the conservation of biodiversity not only in the place where they are applied but also in other ecosystems (i.e. by pesticide run-off).

Agro-ecosystems have been described as: "Agricultural ecosystems (or agro-ecosystems) are those "ecosystems that are used for agriculture" in similar ways, with similar components and similar interactions and functions. Agro-ecosystems are determined by three sets of factors: the genetic resources, the physical environment and the human management practices, which exhibit genetic, spatial and temporal variation, as well as by their interactions. Agro-ecosystems may be identified at different levels or scales, for instance, a field/crop/herd/ pond, a farming system, a land use system or watershed. These can be aggregated to form a hierarchy of agro-ecosystems. Agro-ecosystems comprise polycultures, monocultures, and mixed systems, including crop-livestock systems, agroforestry, agro-silvo-pastoral systems, aquaculture as well as rangelands, pastures and fallow lands. Their interactions with human activities, including socio-economic activity and sociocultural diversity are determinant."

1. If there is a fundamental linkage between farming and biodiversity, then there is a pressing need for information to develop further the rationale of why certain styles of farming should be central to future rural development policies.
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies