Conservation + Agriculture = True Food Security
November 7, 2012
The Volcanica Central Talamanca Corridor in Costa Rica is one of several biological corridors in Central America created to ensure the movement of critically endangered species across the region. It was difficult to motivate struggling local farmers to support this effort based solely on conservation, but they depend on the land for many uses. Broadening the corridor effort beyond conservation to provide livelihood benefits and improved ecosystem services like clean water was the key to success.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that to feed the world’s growing population over the next 40 years we must find ways to increase food production by 60 percent. Most proposed solutions target demand alone by increasing crop yields. An alternative approach gaining increased attention recognizes the mutual dependency of agriculture and conservation. The results are promising – putting more food on more tables while bringing additional benefits to the environment and rural communities.
Integrating biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration in Costa Rica is providing healthier and cheaper ways to make vital crops more resilient – for example, by controlling coffee pests. Market initiatives such as the Rainforest Alliance and Starbuck’s C.A.F.E. certification help ensure that landscapes are managed to protect wild biodiversity while providing income for local communities maintaining productive agroecosystems.