How can decision makers ensure an equal sharing of environmental benefits through sustainable use of biodiversity and land?
Ms. Gudrun Henne, Viveka International, moderated this panel session, which had the following participants as panelists: Mr. Harald Lossack, Head of Section, Biodiversity, Forests and Governance of Natural Resources, GTZ; Mr. Pierre Du Plessis, Center for Research Information Action in Africa; Mr Kabir Bavikatte, Natural Justice, South Africa; Mr. Abul Raziq Kakar, Society of Animal, Veterinary and Environmental Sciences, Rajasthan; and Mr. Dan Leskin, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. The session took the form of an interactive question-and-answer approach guided by Ms. Henne.
Mr. Lossack said the interactions among biodiversity, agrobiodiversity, poverty and land degradation is particularly high in the drylands areas, in part due to a neglect of the drylands and a high dependence of its ecosystem services by many of their inhabitants. He outlined the importance of access and benefit-sharing (ABS) in the drylands.
Based on a study of natural resource use by communities in Namibia, one of the driest countries in Southern Africa, Mr. Du Plessis explained that a ‘livelihood diversification’ is the dominant approach. A typical farmer rears different kinds of livestock and grows 3-5 crops, and each crop has different varieties. There was a system of exchanging livestock that integrated more modern strategies. Mr. Du Plessis then described the key elements that would make the system work.
Mr. Bavikatte described the bio-cultural protocols; what they are and how they work. He observed that while lawyers fragment or break down issues into small bits in order to make sense of them and make it possible to negotiate, putting the pieces back together is difficult. By contrast, community protocols are designed bottom up, starting with the issues of concern to the communities. He cautioned that it would be naÃ¯ve to assume that protocols could solve all the existing conservation dilemmas.
Mr. Kakar discussed the animal production systems in the drylands, distinguishing between transhumance and nomadism, and stressed that animal production is the most efficient and productive system for the drylands ecosystem. He highlighted the misconception that land degradation is caused by overgrazing and overstocking. He argued that contrary to popular though, the treading of land by animals does not lead to land degradation. Rather, it aids vegetation growth. In fact, among the drivers of land degradation in the drylands are deforestation and faulty policies.
Presentation of Mr. Kakar
Mr. Leskin, who was presenting on behalf of Ms. Irene Hoffman, drew attention to the diversity of livestock and plants in the arid lands, and stressed their threat due to climate change. He noted that drylands systems are very resilient and a lot of indigenous knowledge still exists in these regions. He reported the findings of a survey questionnaire administered in 2009 that enabled FAO to identify various drivers of genetic loss, three of which emerged as the most significant.
Presentation of Mr. Leskin
Among the questions raised were: how development cooperation could support the development of local business; an over-expectation that the ABS protocol could capture all the concerns surrounding biodiversity loss; and the real drivers of drylands degradation.