If we are to find long-term sustainable solutions to food security and biodiversity conservation, we need policies that require conservation and agriculture sectors to collaborate and find joint solutions. There are big plans in place for “Agricultural Growth corridors” across the continent. These development corridors are aimed at improving food security, but also need to consider biodiversity in order to be sustainable, given the reliance on functional ecosystems and ecosystem services to support in particular agricultural activities. Therefore, mutual gains for both agriculture and conservation based in part on integrated planning are critical to achieve a food-secure future and improve livelihoods.
Collaboration with IUCN Members
BIOPAMA is working through partnerships with IUCN members and other key partners to tackle this important dialogue between the sectors. There are some key issues at the interface between agriculture and biodiversity, including loss of habitat through agricultural expansion, use of harmful agrochemicals that impact directly and indirectly on biodiversity (e.g. through run-off into water sources), but also impacts of biodiversity on agriculture (e.g. Quelea quelea destroys large fields of agricultural produce particularly in the Horn of Africa). There are many possible approaches to reducing these impacts, ranging from local level interventions and awareness- raising to national and regional level strategic land use planning and enabling policy frameworks. It is this strategic approach to (land use) planning and implementation of the relevant policy framework to allow appropriate interventions that BIOPAMA is supporting.
Guidelines for a more strategic approach to achieving more sustainable solutions
Birdlife and their relevant country partners, with some support from BIOPAMA, hosted a Regional Workshop on Agro-chemical Poisoning and Conservation of Migratory Soaring Birds along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway (10 - 12 April 2014, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) to engage with the Agricultural Ministries and relevant Birdlife partners in the region on 1) current policies and practices in relation to the use of agrochemicals in the region as well as 2) presenting a draft guideline for improved management of agrochemicals use and soliciting feedback from the regional partners. The guidelines will be edited to address the regional needs and published later this year. This work addresses one aspect of a more strategic approach to achieving more sustainable solutions for the agriculture-conservation interface.
This initial collaboration between IUCN and Birdlife on the cross sectoral engagement between agriculture and biodiversity will be enhanced by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on capacity building on dialogue processes and the development of best practices guidelines for the Horn of Africa. BIOPAMA and Birdlife will build on the contacts and networks established during this workshop to develop best practices for the broader agriculture-biodiversity interface. Birdlife has commissioned a draft guideline on sustainable and conservation friendly agricultural practices and BIOPAMA will support the validation and use of these guidelines while also supporting national and regional level dialogues on specific landscapes and potential conflict areas. This includes work across the region, including a collaboration with the SADC Secretariat (Southern African Development Community) based on the SADC Biodiversity Action Plan, which focuses on mainstreaming biodiversity into other sectors and development plans, as well as developing regional guidelines and standards with all the Member States.