Ecosystems services to the fore

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The map shows human impact; the percentage of human influence relative to the maximum influence recorded for each biome. I got it from Resilience Science, which got it from Science magazine (where, I confess, I missed it). It deals with reshaping ecological processes on domesticated land. Anyway, rather than write my own version of the paper by Peter Karieva and his collaborators (which is behind a paywall), I point you straight to Resilience Science, noting in passing that I am certain I would not have done as good a job.

Biodiversity for people

David Kaimowitz, ex Director General of CIFOR, and Douglas Shiel, have written a paper that asks Conserving What and for Whom? Why Conservation Should Help Meet Basic Human Needs in the Tropics. It argues strongly for “pro-poor conservation”. The thousands of species on which poor people depend for their basic needs and livelihoods are more deserving of conservation and protection than many of the current favourites among conservationists. Unfortunately, the paper seems to be behind a paywall. Fortunately, Mongabay has an extended post about it.

Nigerian President has rice initiative

I found a story in today’s Vanguard, a Nigerian news site, that could serve as a case study to illustrate the complexities of the interaction between conservation and use of plant genetic resources. Government imposes levy on rice imports, and launches a Presidential Initiative, no less, on Rice Production, Processing and Export. High-yielding varieties — including the famous NERICA — are multiplied and made available to farmers. A “rice value chain” linking farmers, parboilers, millers, traders etc. is facilitated. A project called Promoting Pro-Poor Opportunities in Commodity and Service Markets (PropCom) is launched, funded by Britain’s DFID, “a market-driven intervention programme that facilitates initiatives which enable the production of quality local rice in sufficient quantities that can compete with imported rice and benefit the poor stakeholders.”

I have two questions for the students who will no doubt be given this case study to ponder in years to come. Is all this good or bad for rice genetic diversity? And will it be good or bad for rice farmers in the long run?