Traditional farming ‘can save threatened species’
SciDev.Net, 22 December 2011

LONDON, UK: Traditional farming methods are crucial for protecting a number of threatened bird species in the developing world, including bustards, cranes, ibises and vultures, a study has found. Livestock grazing and features associated with arable farming, such as hedgerows, create environmental conditions that certain birds currently depend on for food, shelter and breeding, the authors report. But as industrial farming methods eliminate these habitats, these species are threatened with extinction, said Hugh Wright, a researcher in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK, and lead author of the study, published in Conservation Letters. The study found 29 bird species threatened by the decline of traditional agriculture in developing countries. This number could be much higher if all organisms, rather than just birds, are considered, as evidence from Europe suggests that traditional farming also benefits reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and even plants, Wright said. Farmers can benefit too from protecting biodiversity since it helps to justify traditional agriculture and could prevent big agri-businesses from forcing farmers off their land, he added. Also, by offering farmers economic incentives to continue these beneficial practices, governments can ensure that conservation and development move forward together. Read the article … Read the abstract of the study Agriculture – a key element  for conservation in the developing world by Hugh L. Wright, Iain R. Lake and Paul M. Dolman …