Reducing global biodiversity loss through regenerative ecoregional agroforestry landscapes

Often referred to as the silent crisis of our time, loss of biodiversity has mostly gone unnoticed by the wider public. Recently though media and organisations have begun to notice the deeper problem of biodiversity loss. The Sustainable development goal SDG 15 has helped to highlight the importance of protecting ecosystems and biodiversity.

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

SDG 15 – Life on Land

There can be no doubt, wild nature is the best way to protect biodiversity, but next to that regenerative agroforestry systems is the type of land use that have the highest biodiversity. So while politicians fight over distribution of land and NGOs beg for money to restore it, we help communities and farmers take action and implement regenerative agroforestry NOW. It’s all about enabling the individual farmer and community to take action.

Agriculture have a bad reputation when it comes to habitat and biodiversity loss, but it is possible to turn the tide, making agriculture a force of restoration and conservation of biodiversity. Regenerative agroforestry present such a possibility. The IPBES recently released their report with the alarming name “Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’ Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’“. In the report they list the main issues in regards to biodiversity loss. But they also provide solutions, particularly for what farmers can do to increase and conserve biodiversity:

Promoting good agricultural and agroecological practices; multifunctional landscape planning (which simultaneously provides food security, livelihood opportunities, maintenance of species and ecological functions) and cross-sectoral integrated management. It also points to the importance of deeper engagement of all actors throughout the food system (including producers, the public sector, civil society and consumers) and more integrated landscape and watershed management; conservation of the diversity of genes, varieties, cultivars, breeds, landraces and species;

IPBES

So there are at least two areas where agriculture can make a difference when it comes to biodiversity:

  • Ensuring species conservation
  • Implementing multifunctional integrated farm landscapes

At Regen Farmer we work actively to promote these areas in our work with regenerative agroforestry.

Regenerative ecoregional agroforestry to conserve local species

There are over 800 different terrestrial ecoregions on earth. Many of these ecoregions have endemic species. This means that they have species that are unique to that region – species that exist nowhere else on earth. This is key to understanding what biodiversity is. It’s not only about diversity on a local level, but about diversity on a global scale. When it comes to agriculture, there is a tendency to copy systems from one part of the world to another, using mostly the same species. The problem with this is two fold: a. the systems that are copied around the world generally have a low diversity and b. by using the same plants, diversity on a global scale is reduced. So to conserve species one must a. work with systems of high diversity (such as regenerative agroforestry) and b. promote the use of local species instead of bringing in exotic species, by adopting an ecoregional approach.

We need to regenerate biodiversity on an ecoregional scale. At Regen Farmer we are building a network of best practice ecoregional agroforestry farms and communities. These ecoregional partnerships makes it possible for us to gather information about unique agroforestry systems and native/endemic species in each region. This enables us to work actively with farmers, communities and organisations around the world to unleash the potential of regenerative ecoregional agroforestry and promote the use of it.

Example of bamboo native and endemic to Chile being implemented in a regenerative ecoregional agroforestry system.
Credit: Agua Tierra

Integrated farm landscapes to connect habitats

Per definition regenerative agroforestry is a cross-sectorial and multifunctional farming system. Agroforestry combines trees with different plants and animals to create polyculture systems. So by implementing regenerative agroforestry systems, there is already a big difference in biodiversity compared to a traditional agricultural system.

On top of that, mosaic landscapes create what is known as biotope networks. It is literally corridors that connect the dots (of habitats). At Regen Farmer we design farms and landscapes that connect animal habitats. In a country like Denmark, where only 8% of the land is wild nature, the connection of these habitats can be a key element in species survival and conservation efforts.

Regenerative agroforestry landscape with integrated wildlife corridors and mosaic habitat integration.
Credit: Regen Farmer

Together our ecoregional partnerships to conserve biodiversity and integration of biotope networks in our mosaic farm landscape designs create a solid foundation for reducing biodiversity loss in farmland. We are dedicated to promote these methods by working together with farmers and communities around the globe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *