Enhancing Biodiversity Calls for Collective Action

Trees at Karura Forest on April 22nd, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Researchers have called for collective responsibility in ensuring the conservation of the environment and ecosystems in a bid to enhance biodiversity in production systems. Farmers, who have direct use of land need to plant trees on their farms, to not only conserve soil fertility but also support other species such as birds and need to adopt practices that do not harm soil biodiversity.

On the other hand, governments at all levels including international, national and counties need to support agricultural activities that are biodiversity-oriented, supporting farmers in transitioning towards more sustainable practices.

Development and donor organizations too have been called upon to rethink their funding strategy and commit more funds towards promoting sustainable and conservation-oriented lines in a bid to enhance biodiversity while promoting food and nutrition security.

According to Dr. Carlo Fadda, Director, Director, Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture at The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), it is time for action in reversing the tragic loss of biodiversity.

In an exclusive interview at The Alliance Bioversity International-CIAT at Kasarani, Nairobi, Dr. Fadda noted that there is a strong interconnection between biodiversity and its effects to agriculture, food and nutrition security, forest cover water, climate among other related issues.

“Whatever we do in agriculture affects the climate, it affects nutrition and food security, it has effects on forests, water, and our soil,” said Dr. Fadda, adding, “We need to, recognise that all of these are very interconnected issues and the only way we can safeguard the environment is by making sure that we have sustainable production of our food,”

His sentiments come at a time when the globe is making the International Day for Biological Diversity, which is observed every May 22. The day was set aside by the United Nations (UN) for the promotion of biodiversity and issues surrounding the same and is aligned with the UN-post-2015 agenda on sustainable development.

Dr. Fadda, who doubles up as the leader of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) Initiative on Nature-Positive Solutions, on biodiversity, its benefits and responsibility on issues around it, says the only way we can reverse those trends that have led to the loss of biodiversity is by looking at issues such as industrial development, agriculture management of water bodies and food production, through the lenses of biodiversity.

Nature Positive is among the programs at The Alliance Bioversity and CIAT with 6 more CGIAR centers and many national partners which work towards building back biodiversity in the production system. It aims at ensuring that there is thriving soil biodiversity, and crop diversification and agroecological agricultural practices.

“Biodiversity is the foundation of life now, and its loss threatens the existence of ecosystems and Mother Earth as we know today,” said Dr. Fadda

The theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity is ‘From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity’. It builds on the results of COP 15 and calls for a quick focus shift to implementation.

“I would urge everyone who is in a position, to plant a tree or two or do whatever they can that benefits biodiversity in their daily choices,” said Dr. Fadda, adding,

“As a researcher working in a research–for–development organization, I believe there is a lot of traditional knowledge among farmers and that farmers are still adopting many indigenous practices which can be of value in reversing biodiversity loss”.

He noted that there is a need to keep understanding the traditional knowledge system while seeking ways to integrate science. Combining those two knowledge systems, he said will enhance biodiversity beyond one international day set aside to focus on the same.

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