Agriculture in the strictest sense is the rearing of a breed or variety of our choice for human (nutrition) purposes. As such, agriculture alters the natural landscape and necessarily impacts flora and fauna which can be found there by dictating what may flourish and what not. It is a well-researched fact that biodiversity is grossly impacted through human activities, with agriculture taking up 47% of land in the EU.1
Biodiversity is responsible for a plethora of ecosystem services we currently take for granted: pollination, cleansing of air and water, producing organic matter, recycling nutrients, pest control through natural enemies, etc. Many of these services play a significant role for agricultural productivity and maintaining a healthy environment. It is therefore no exaggeration to claim that biodiversity is the foundation for all agriculture, and it is thus pivotal to be mindful of the loss of biodiversity when designing and managing farms and agricultural land.
Organic farming and biodiversity
Organic Agriculture takes a holistic ecosystem view to agriculture and recognises that the farm is but one element in the intricate and interrelated web of life. It aims towards a healthy balance between natural processes and human interventions to produce synergetic results, thereby leaving natural cycles largely intact and harnessing nature’s potential to human ends. It therefore comes as no surprise that organic agriculture comes out top of the list in studies measuring on-farm biodiversity time after time.
Wild and domestic biodiversity
Agro-biodiversity (wild and domestic biodiversity) deals with the diversity of bred and cultivated animal and plant species used by farmers for food, pharmaceutical and technical purposes. A broad basis of genetic diversity is crucial in order to have a range of healthy and nutritious products to choose from, and to be able to adapt to environmental changes. As such, encouraging the maintenance and further development of genetic resources, being adapted to low external inputs and/or specific local conditions, is something we strive for.
Biodiversity – political context
2010 was declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the UN, and commitments were made on both Global and EU level with the aim of halting biodiversity loss in Europe by 2010. Unfortunately, everyone recognises that this goal was far from achieved, and that efforts have to be doubled towards this aim. The IFOAM EU Group as representative of the organic sector in Europe is an important actor in the EU’s drive to find appropriate policies to restore and maintain biodiversity on farmland, promoting organic agriculture as a recognised valuable tool for halting biodiversity loss.
Conference: Biodiversity and Organic Farming - a win-win partnership
The IFOAM EU Group, in cooperation with the pan-European office of IUCN, held a conference on “Biodiversity and Organic farming – a win-win partnership” on 18th November 2010. The event took place in the European Parliament, under the patronage of MEP Martin Häusling in the European Parliament. The conference also marked the launch of the manual "Organic Farming and Biodiversity in Europe: Examples from the Polar Circle to Mediterranean Regions".
For the full programme, please see the official invitation. To download the manual and the list of references for the manual, see below.