- Rice covers 138 million hectares of agricultural land in Asia, which teem with life. Nevertheless, present administration of rice landscapes contributes to the biodiversity disaster.
- The Submit 2020 International Biodiversity Framework being negotiated in the course of the upcoming Conference on Organic Range convention in China can profit from making rice landscapes a wholesome habitat to stem biodiversity loss on the continent.
- Redesigning public packages to discourage practices dangerous to biodiversity in rice landscapes ought to be a precedence, as analysis has proven nature-positive approaches can ship the identical or increased yields as unsustainable practices prevalent throughout tropical Asia.
- This submit is a commentary. The views expressed are these of the authors, not essentially Mongabay.
Rice landscapes are ignored biodiversity hubs that bristle with life. Rice farming techniques’ distinctive semi-aquatic nature imply that they provide habitats to quite a few endangered species and supply many ecosystem companies. Nevertheless, prevalent farming practices signifies that rice typically has one of many highest ecological footprints amongst agricultural commodities in Asia, exacerbating the biodiversity disaster. Because of the giant space below rice cultivation and disproportionate share of agro-chemical inputs used to provide it in Asia, bettering the environmental sustainability of rice landscapes would considerably profit organic variety conservation within the area and ought to be a part of the Submit 2020 International Biodiversity Framework.
In Kunming, China, on the fifteenth Convention of the Events (CoP15) to the Conference on Organic Range (CBD), nations will convene at a crucial juncture for planetary well being to barter the Submit-2020 International Biodiversity Framework. Not one of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets will probably be met by COP 15, with the Asia Pacific Area’s Dwelling Planet Index declining by 45% within the final 50 years. To reverse these tendencies and obtain CBD’s imaginative and prescient of “dwelling in concord with nature by 2050,” mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture have to be a significant part of the Submit-2020 Framework.
Agriculture is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss. Unsustainable farming practices and agriculture-linked land conversion quickly degrade and destroy our pure ecosystems. Amongst agri-food techniques in pressing want of biodiversity mainstreaming, Asian nations can prioritize rice landscapes, one of many world’s largest sources of human-modified wetland habitats.
Wetlands are at grave threat globally, with 35% of those habitats misplaced within the final 50 years. In tropical Asia, the monsoon season limits cereal manufacturing in lowland areas to simply rice. Subsequently, rice landscapes sit at an intersection between reaching our meals and vitamin safety and safeguarding crucial biodiversity.
Along with feeding 4 billion individuals, rice landscapes are semi-aquatic habitats for an array of fauna and flora, reminiscent of waterbirds, aquatic bugs, amphibians and fish, which additionally present meals for bats, birds and mammals inhabiting these areas. Many endangered species, such because the Bengal florican in Cambodia and Sarus crane in Myanmar, depend on rice panorama habitats.
In an ecosystem service context, flooded rice environments present necessary help companies for wildlife by way of their intensive water networks. Rice ecosystems hyperlink into pure wetlands, agroforestry, and forested watersheds, as nicely downstream into coastal marine areas.
Nevertheless, our present administration of rice landscapes contributes to the biodiversity disaster. Rice manufacturing typically overuses pesticides and fertilizers, and applies unsustainable intensification practices and land modifications, which lead to biodiversity loss. How we handle rice manufacturing has implications on the broader capability of the landscapes to keep up land- and water-based life. For instance, agricultural pollutant runoff can result in lack of ecosystem variety, construction and functioning, and trigger coastal reef ecosystem eutrophication.
Subsequently, at COP15, policymakers can take into account the next suggestions to sustainably produce rice and defend biodiversity:
- Reform dangerous subsidies and incentivize farmer adoption of sustainable administration practices: Rice is a significant recipient of Asian agriculture subsidies and accounts for 15% of fertilizer and 35% of freshwater use globally. Given rice’s giant share of Asian subsidy regimes, redesigning public packages that encourage practices dangerous to biodiversity in rice landscapes is a precedence. That is already taking place in some nations. For instance, in Guangdong Province, China, the supply of sponsored agricultural enter to rice farmers is now linked to their adoption of sustainable administration applied sciences, recognized domestically as “Three Controls” know-how. Over 320,000 rice farmers have diminished fertilizer and pesticide use, whereas growing yields by as much as 10%. Policymakers can broaden such reforms to subsidies and eradicate dangerous subsidies wherever attainable.
- Construct capability of nations to scale up using confirmed applied sciences and practices that scale back rice farming’s ecological footprint and preserve biodiversity in rice landscapes: The Worldwide Rice Analysis Institute (IRRI) and companion organizations have validated many options to scale back agro-chemical use in rice manufacturing and keep rice landscapes’ capability to maintain life. These options, together with Built-in Pest Administration (IPM), site-specific nutrient administration, conservation agriculture and agroecological practices reminiscent of rice-fish tradition and ecological engineering, ship the identical or increased yields as unsustainable practices prevalent throughout tropical Asia. Outcomes from the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia Program (CORIGAP), a Swiss Growth Cooperation-funded challenge, show that these options could be extensively adopted by farmers by way of the creation of enabling insurance policies, constructing native extension system capability and establishing public-private sector studying alliances. Policymakers can spend money on sharing data and constructing capability to deploy these sustainable practices throughout Asia.
- Improve funding in biodiversity analysis in rice manufacturing landscapes: Elevated funding in agriculture biodiversity mainstreaming analysis below the Submit 2020 framework ought to embody funds to enhance understanding of rice ecosystems, biodiversity and their attendant ecosystem companies. One future analysis space is to evaluate the position border habitats round flooded rice play in biodiversity conservation, particularly for amphibians, threatened by excessive agro-chemical use, habitat loss, and a Chytrid fungus that triggers mass deaths. It’s extremely probably that elevated heterogeneity round rice areas would profit wildlife biodiversity, however this wants quantification.
- Inexperienced Rice Worth Chains and Agri-input Markets: Nations can evaluation laws for agri-input markets to speed up registration of safer alternate options for pest administration, section out extremely hazardous pesticides which can be detrimental to biodiversity and improve funding in manufacturing capability for bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers. This could profit agriculture as an entire and improve rice landscapes’ capability to maintain life. Nations also can work with the non-public sector to use sustainability requirements, such because the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) commonplace, which explicitly contains necessities to keep up biodiversity. The SRP commonplace can embed sustainability throughout rice worth chains and ship sustainably licensed rice merchandise to customers. Asian nations could take into account establishing SRP nationwide chapters and partnering with provide chain actors to undertake the SRP commonplace.
Though the above suggestions alone won’t halt or cease all biodiversity loss related to rice manufacturing and should not an alternative to the conservation of pure wetlands, they symbolize a strategic funding in sustaining wholesome rice landscapes that may maintain plentiful life. On condition that milled rice demand will improve by a further 100 million tons per yr by 2040 and that almost all of this further manufacturing will happen in Asia, failure to behave may result in vital additional biodiversity loss. Following these suggestions, COP15 policymakers can forestall this state of affairs and maximize rice landscapes’ position in supporting biodiversity.
Oliver Frith is the Head of Enterprise Growth on the Worldwide Rice Analysis Institute within the Philippines and has a grasp’s diploma in Atmosphere Change and Administration from the College of Oxford.
Alex Stuart is an Worldwide Undertaking Supervisor at Pesticide Motion Community-UK and has a PhD in Organic Sciences from the College of Studying.
See associated: Sustainable livelihood provides a lifeline to Philippines’ dying rice terraces