Navigation Links
Agriculture and tropical conservation: rethinking old ideas

It's a long-held view in conservation circles that rural peasant activities are at odds with efforts to preserve biodiversity in the tropics. In fact, the opposite is often true, argue University of Michigan researchers John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto.

Combining case studies with ecological theory, Vandermeer and Perfecto found that the peasant farming practices encouraged by grassroots movements such as Brazil's Landless Workers Movement, Mexico's Zapatistas or the international Via Campesina actually support conservation, while the practices of extremely wealthy landowners often undermine it. The researchers will present their findings Aug. 8 in two symposia at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Memphis, Tenn.

"When you talk to peasant producers in tropical areas, they're usually surprised when they hear that conservationists think that they're the enemies of conservation," said Vandermeer, who is the Margaret Davis Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "They love their farms and all the plants and animals in the area, and they see that it's the big, rich landowners who come in and cut all the trees down and turn the land into cattle pastures. So the standard litany doesn't ring true to them."

Vandermeer and Perfecto reviewed studies of biodiversity in the Atlantic coast rainforest of Brazil, a region that is unusual in having areas of tremendous biological variety adjacent to highly developed, industrialized areas.

"The area has some of the highest biodiversity in the world, but it all occurs in fragments of forest," Vandermeer said. In one study the researchers examined, a Brazilian scientist documented in a single river valley 28,000 separate forest fragments, where vulnerable species such as muriqui monkeys live. Vandermeer and Perfecto combined observations such as these with current ecological theory.

"We know that a lot of organisms typically live in a fragmented state in natur e, with subpopulations scattered around an area," Vandermeer said. Disease or predators may wipe out a particular subpopulation, but migrants from nearby subpopulations come in and establish a new subpopulation. "We now think that most high diversity situations operate this way, with a continual process of local extinction and re-migration. When you couple that ecological theory with the observation of highly fragmented forests in the Atlantic coast rainforest, the real question is not how much forest is left, but what's between those patches that are left, and will it support the necessary migrations from patch to patch as local extinctions occur, which they inevitably do?"

If forest patches are separated by barren pastures or fields of single crops, such as soybeans, then monkeys, birds, and other forest animals probably won't travel through them to repopulate areas where extinction has occurred. But that's not the case if the intervening areas are traditional "agroforests"---farms where fruit and timber trees share space with other crops, Vandermeer said. "That's the kind of agriculture that's friendly to biodiversity, and that's the kind of agriculture that peasant farmers actually do."

Vandermeer and Perfecto, a professor of natural resources and environment, visited agroforests in the Pontal de Paranapanema region of Brazil, where landless peasants organized by Catholic priests established homesteads in the 1950s and 1960s. There, the researchers saw evidence that the farms do indeed serve as thoroughfares for migrating animals. "These farmers actually have monkeys that come through their farms," Vandermeer said.

The U-M scientists and their collaborator Jefferson Ferreira Lima of Brazil's Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas also spoke with members of the Landless Workers' Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or MST), which is a member of the international peasant organization Via Campesina. "It's a political moveme nt, but it's very pro-conservation, and they specifically understand what they're doing by creating a new kind of agriculture based on small producers using organic or semi-organic methodologies on farms with trees," Vandermeer said.

With these groups encouraging such biodiversity-friendly practices, Vandermeer said, "I think conservationists and rural peasant movements ought to be friends."


'"/>

Source:University of Michigan


Related biology news :

1. An (ecological) origin of species for tropical reef fish
2. Birds and bats sow tropical seeds
3. Scientists must offer solutions for conserving tropical forests in a rapidly changing world
4. Diverse tropical forests defy metabolic ecology models
5. New understanding of parasite cell structures may provide treatments for serious tropical diseases
6. Public Library of Science to launch new, open access journal on neglected tropical diseases
7. The subtleties of tropical forest demise
8. Microfossils unravel climate history of tropical Africa
9. Scientists: As rainfall changes, tropical plants may acclimate
10. Madagascan tropical forests return thanks to better management and well-defined ownership
11. Shift of weather patterns necessitates rethinking of reforestation methods
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:5/23/2017)... May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation ... officially launched in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 ... and the USA . The technology was developed and ... by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro ... Release, please click: ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... , April 24, 2017 ... and partner with  Identity Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) ... "With or without President Trump,s March 6, 2017 ... Terrorist Entry , refugee vetting can be instilled with ... resettlement. (Right now, all refugee applications are suspended ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... April 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced Design and ... will feature emerging and evolving technology through its 3D ... will run alongside the expo portion of the event ... and demonstrations focused on trending topics within 3D printing ... and manufacturing event will take place June 13-15, 2017 at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... USA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s ... take place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit ... as well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around the ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient ... Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this week. ... among health care professionals to enhance the patient care experience ... and other health care professionals to help women who have ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main ... people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution ... of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today ... designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) ... able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its ...
Breaking Biology Technology: