Ehsan Dulloo, Bioversity International Conservation and Availability Programme Leader, presented at the international conference Enhanced genepool utilization - Capturing wild relative and landrace diversity for crop improvement, in Cambridge, UK, 16-20 June 2014.
It is said that “you can't manage what you don't measure”. The unprecedented global loss of agricultural species, varieties and associated traditional knowledge is of increasing concern, threatening the provisioning, regulatory, supporting and cultural ecosystem services of importance to the livelihoods of the poor as well as the welfare of broader society. Such services include such public goods as maintaining agroecosystem resilience and future option values.
Unfortunately, although many crop genetic resources (CGR) are widely recognized as being threatened, there is only limited information available regarding actual status. Only isolated efforts at monitoring have been undertaken. Conventional monitoring efforts, where they exist at all, have been subject to limitations due to ad hoc approaches that lack rigorous survey and sampling approaches, do not adequately account for search effort costs or systematically involve the participation of local-level actors, and are usually based on collections instead of direct observations in the field. Furthermore, the links between specific CGR conservation levels/configurations and the provision of specific ecosystem services are poorly understood.
There is thus an urgent need for the development of a systematic approach to the monitoring of CGR. This presentation draws on the outcome of a recent Bioversity International/CIP international expert workshop aimed at the development of such an approach. The proposed multi-scale approach builds on a wide range of existing monitoring experiences and a review of the literature related to agricultural biodiversity-relevant ecosystem services. A number of proposed indicators that could be used to assess CGR threat levels, be used for monitoring purposes and/or assist in evaluating ecosystem service public/private good trade-offs arising from agricultural intensification are presented, with a view to supporting the potential for prioritizing, designing and implementing on-farm/in situ conservation measures that actively involve farmers, support livelihoods, complement existing ex situ conservation efforts and facilitate access and benefit sharing.
Find out more about Bioversity International work on conserving crop diversity on the farm and in the wild http://www.bioversityinternational.org/research-portfolio/conservation-of-crop-diversity/