The vitality of biodiversity

To many, the term biodiversity brings to mind the plants and animals of uncultivated prairies and forests, but it is much more - it is the basis for our well-being.

biodiversity

INTERRA® farms - working with growers to protect natural resources.

We depend on biodiversity for essential aspects of agriculture. Healthy soil structure has multitudes of microorganisms; many of our crops depend on various pollinators and the variety of food we eat comes from the genetic diversity of crops. At least 40% of the world’s economy and 80% of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources, says the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

But worldwide, biodiversity is under threat. As the world’s population grows, more wilderness is being cultivated for food. Syngenta believes that growers need incentives and support to nurture biodiversity, while at the same time producing more from the acreage they already cultivate. This means agricultural policies will have to take into account the economic value of biodiversity and incentivize productivity.

Why do we need biodiversity?

Why do we need biodiversity?Biodiversity makes it possible for whole ecosystems to adapt to changing conditions like climate change.

It also plays a role in protecting precious natural resources such as water and productive soil.

Throughout the history of civilization, we have selected and bred crops to thrive in specific environments, and produce more yield, based on the amazing genetic diversity of crops.

Biodiversity under threat

One of the biggest threats to biodiversity is conversion of forests to croplands. Unfortunately, this is happening at an alarming rate in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Sudan, and Angola, which are among the 25 most biodiverse in the world1.

If we do not sustainably increase agricultural productivity on current farmland, we will not be able to protect biodiversity for future generations.

Sustainable agricultural solutions help growers produce more per hectare, while protecting natural resources. Recently researchers calculated that 1.5 billion hectares- an area one-and-a-half times the US - has been protected from cultivation 2. The use of modern technologies to increase productivity has made this possible.

But today’s yield gains must be coupled with conservation and development efforts to protect biodiversity. For instance, growers can turn unproductive field margins into natural habitats for a wide range of species including pollinators.

Working together to protect biodiversity

Plight of the honeybees

Honeybees play a vital role in agriculture but their numbers are in decline. Instead of one culprit, scientists find multiple factors impact bee health and survival. Read more on our website Plight of the Bees or download this brochure.

To accomplish the task at hand, more cooperation is needed ; industry and government can coordinate efforts to protect and enhance biodiversity at country, regional and global levels. These efforts should include policies that are based on sound science and risk assessment. Governments should not restrict access to technologies in crop and farm management systems that contribute to conserving biodiversity.

We also need to preserve the genetic diversity of food crops to fully unlock plant potential. This is the foundation for improved yield, quality and nutritional value through breeding and biotechnology. Syngenta is supporting the work of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the role of which is to preserve the genetic diversity of crops.

In 2008, Syngenta contributed to Agricultural Ecosystems: Facts and Trends, published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to help governments, farmers, consumers and industry better understand sustainable management of agricultural ecosystems.

1 The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010
2 Jennifer A. Burney, Steven J. Davis, and David B. Lobella. “Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural Intensification.” PNAS, June 15, 2010.