Food security and biodiversity are two of the most pressing challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.
Food security and biodiversity are interdependent, as food production depends on the services provided by nature, and nature depends on the management of food production systems.
However, food security and biodiversity are also threatened by human activities, such as population growth, consumption patterns, land use change, climate change, and pollution.
How can we achieve food security and biodiversity in a changing world? One possible solution is to promote farms that create habitat for wildlife and ecosystems.
These farms are more diversified, polycultural, and organic than conventional farms, and they can provide multiple benefits for both food production and nature conservation.
The benefits of diversified farming for wildlife and ecosystems
(Photo : MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo : MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
Farms are not only places where humans grow food, but also where many animals live and interact.
However, not all farms are equally friendly to wildlife and ecosystems. Some farms are highly intensive, monocultural, and use large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers.
These farms tend to reduce biodiversity, degrade soil and water quality, and emit greenhouse gases.
On the other hand, other farms are more diversified, polycultural, and use organic or agroecological practices. These farms tend to enhance biodiversity, improve soil and water quality, and sequester carbon.
One of the ways that diversified farms can support wildlife and ecosystems is by creating habitat. Habitat is the physical and biological environment that provides animals with food, shelter, and other resources.
Diversified farms can create habitat by planting different types of crops, maintaining natural vegetation, and integrating trees and shrubs.
These practices can increase the structural complexity, diversity, and connectivity of the landscape, which can benefit many species of birds, mammals, insects, and other organisms.
For example, a recent study by Stanford researchers found that diversified farms in Costa Rica sustain many forest-dependent bird populations, even as populations decline in forests and intensive agriculture.
Also Read: Micro and Nanoplastics Contaminate Our Food and Water Risking Food Security
The benefits of wildlife and ecosystems for diversified farming and food security
Diversified farming can not only create habitat for wildlife and ecosystems, but also receive benefits from them.
Wildlife and ecosystems can provide various services to diversified farming and food security, such as pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling, soil formation, water regulation, climate regulation, and cultural values.
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, which is essential for the reproduction of many crops.
Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats, and other animals. They can increase crop yield, quality, diversity, and resilience.
Pest control is the suppression of harmful organisms that damage crops or livestock.
Pest controllers include birds, bats, spiders, ants, ladybugs, and other animals. They can reduce crop losses, pesticide use, environmental impacts, and health risks.
Meanwhile, nutrient cycling is the movement of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, and others through the soil-plant-animal-atmosphere system.
Bacteria, fungi, earthworms, termites, and other organisms are known as cycler, and they can enhance soil fertility, crop nutrition, and productivity.
Soil formation is the process of creating new soil from parent material, organic matter, and weathering agents. Soil formers include bacteria, fungi, earthworms, termites, and other organisms.
Soil formers can increase soil depth, structure, porosity, water-holding capacity, and erosion resistance. Water regulation is the control of water quantity and quality in the landscape.
Water regulators include trees, shrubs, grasslands, wetlands, and other vegetation. Water regulators can reduce runoff, flooding, droughts, sedimentation, pollution, and salinization.
Climate regulation is the influence of biophysical processes on the global and local climate system. Climate regulators include trees, shrubs, grasslands, wetlands, and other vegetation.
Climate regulators can sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, moderate temperature extremes, and increase precipitation.
Cultural values are the non-material benefits that people derive from nature such as aesthetic beauty recreation education spirituality and heritage.
Cultural value providers include birds mammals insects flowers trees and other organisms and landscapes. Cultural value providers can enhance human well-being happiness health and identity.
Related article: Soil Loss Threatens Food Security
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