Livelihoods and biodiversity

The food crisis, enPhoto: Red Orbitvironmental crisis and the social crisis are all closely linked, and so the Livelihoods initiative was set up. Livelihood’s mission is to support the efforts of agricultural and rural communities to live in sustainable ecosystems that serve as the foundation for their food security and provide the resources that ensure their sustainability. It is moving towards several specific areas, including restoration of natural ecosystems,  agroforestry, agriculture and rural energy, mobilizing in particular carbon offset mechanisms and a large group of partners from the private sector and civil society organizations, including the World Agroforestry Centre.

Livelihoods co-organized Livelihoods Day at the Rio Conventions Pavilion on 12 October at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 11) in Hyderabad, India.

During a session on innovative approaches to deliver benefits to livelihoods and nature, the Araku project was described. With the Indian organization the Naandi Foundation, communities of the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh are conducting a major programme of planting fruit trees. The local population of 300 villages has been really successful in growing coffee over an area of 6000 ha, moving a population of 66,000 out of poverty.  As the project developed, the local people started talking about restoring their forests, especially to increase the birds and bees for pollination. The Livelihoods Fund engaged the farmers and created one of the largest agroforestry biodiversity projects in India, that extended to 25,000 farmers and forest dwellers.  19 varieties of trees per acre have been planted and over a million mango trees out of 6 million trees are to be planted, using the previous generations’ knowledge of living with forests.

ICRAF Chief Scientist Meine van Noordwijk was a part of the panel and questioned the language that was being used. “Are we talking about forests or agroforestry?” he said. People on the ground will say that the  forests are owned by the government or other people outside the district, but agroforests are actually owned by the local farmers. The aspect of ownership today suggests a shift from past attitudes, which has a strong political side, an issue of commitment and how land is classified.

“Nature is not a commodity that can be sold,” he said, “Within the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) framework there are three paradigms: commodification, compensation and co-investment. The Livelihoods initiative on the ground has all the characteristics of co-investment but uses the languages of commodification and compensation.

Ramni Jamnadass suggested that the Livelihood Fund also needs to consider human population growth and ways to limit it in relation to the cause of deforestation and landscape degradation. Panelists noted that population growth has been ignored for a long time but it is becoming more prominent in development discussions. It is a driver of overexploitation and movement towards the city, which increases the demand for resources and services.

“You need to turn the tap off before you start mopping the floor,” added van Noordwijk.


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Photo courtesy Red Orbit'

Paul Stapleton

Paul Stapleton is the Head of Communications at the World Agroforestry Centre.

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