Providing incentives to enhance ecosystem services from biodiversity and promote conservation in the agricultural matrix.

Biodiversity provides key ecosystem services for farmers around the world, including pest control, pollination, and soil improvement. This biodiversity can reach surprisingly high levels, particularly in traditional farming systems. Agroecology is unraveling the ecological processes at work, but significant portions of the biodiversity involved remain undescribed. Though frequently unappreciated and unnoticed by farmers, the critical services provided by this understudied component of agroecosystems strengthen ecological resilience within farms and improve food security for rural communities and the cities that depend on them.

In addition, though agriculture is often portrayed as a primary driver of biodiversity loss, if managed properly, farms can provide important habitat within the agricultural matrix that frequently surrounds and connects protected areas. Habitat features within farms or in set-asides within the matrix enhance protected areas by acting as buffer zones around protected areas or as corridors that allow the movement of biodiversity through what may be difficult terrain to navigate for many species and taxa. These conservation principals are well established; however the challenge is in how to provide incentives for maintaining or restoring these features within the agricultural matrix.

This Knowledge Cafe will provide an opportunity for dialogue on different approaches being taken to provide incentives for farmers and agricultural communities to enhance ecosystem services and promote conservation within the agricultural matrix. These approaches range from focusing on within farm management of habitat to landscape level approaches. Some provide information and training to farmers, while others focus on market-based incentives. This Knowledge Café will provide a forum to identify next steps and move toward actions that build on the key issues presented during the workshop of the same name. The discussion will seek to identify common ground across programs and next steps for expanding and improving incentives for enhancing biodiversity within agricultural landscapes.

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