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Food Security and Biodiversity Resources for Integrating Food Security and Biodiversity Conservation

Biodiversity Provides Ecosystem Goods and Services That Support Food Production

Natural systems provide key ecosystem goods and services that support food production including fish provision, water provision, pest control, and pollination. As such, biodiversity programming can have significant positive impacts on food security, and can incorporate food security priorities into its own activities. Similarly, food security programming can yield substantial benefits for biodiversity objectives. Agricultural systems can support genetic and functional diversity that contributes to agricultural and human resilience. The Food Security Reference Sheet is designed to be a quick introduction for those looking for opportunities to integrate biodiversity conservation with food security programming.

  • Non-cultivated foods such as wild plants, fruits, tubers, and fish are important for household diets in rural areas, especially among the poor. Wild plants and animals are often rich in micronutrients and supplement the carbohydrate-rich diets common in many developing countries; they also serve as safety-net foods during times of crisis (Bharucha and Pretty 2010).
  • Pollination is a crucial ecosystem service that increases the yield and quality of many crops that are important to food security. A recent analysis found that enhancing pollinator density and richness on farms less than two hectares in size can close yield gaps (defined by the researchers as the difference between high- and low-yielding farms) by a median of 24 percent (Garibaldi et al. 2016).
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation, a nature-based approach to help people adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, can increase the resilience of food production. Effective approaches include planting shade trees to improve soil fertility and support pollinators, restoring and managing watersheds to maintain water supply for irrigation, and intercropping to improve resistance to pest outbreaks (Colls et al. 2009, Vignola et al. 2015).
When well-managed, wild-caught fisheries, can play a critical role in food security, nutrition, and poverty reduction. Photo by A. Kauffeld, USAID.

Fisheries are Feeding the World

More than 800 million people around the world are chronically undernourished; 2 billion are micronutrient deficient; and 159 million children under five are stunted, forever robbing them of opportunities to reach their full potential. At the same time, fish are the most widely traded foods in the world, with about 50 percent coming from developing countries. In several African and Asian countries, fish provide more than half of the animal protein supply and are a food staple.

USAID/Ghana’s Sustainable Fisheries Management Project is rebuilding marine fish stocks that have seen major declines in landings over the last decade, particularly small fisheries that are important for food security and are the mainstay of the small-scale fishing sector. Activities include support for co-management, use rights, capacity, and effort-reduction strategies; improved science-informed decision-making; and building the political will and public support necessary to make the hard choices and changed behavior needed to rebuild that country’s marine fisheries sector.

Biodiverse ecosystems produce goods and services fundamental to food security.

Resources for USAID Missions, Washington, and Partners

Biodiversity Conservation Supports Agricultural Productivity

Biodiversity underpins essential ecosystem services such as water provision, pest control, pollination, and climate regulation that support agricultural productivity.

Reports and Evidence

  • The Importance of Wild Pollinators to Food Security and Nutrition. Coming Soon!

Case Examples

Photo by: JSI for USAID, 2013.

Biodiversity Conservation Enhances the Natural Productivity of Wild-Caught Fisheries

Fish is a highly nutritious food that contributes to food security and nutrition for billions of people worldwide. Wild-caught fisheries, when well managed, can improve food security and nutrition, alleviate poverty, and strengthen community resilience.

Reports and Evidence

  • The Role of Wild Caught Fisheries in African Development describes the role of wild-caught fisheries in food security, resilience, and nutrition. The report also presents opportunities and recommendations for intervening in fisheries management to improve the livelihoods and food security of the hundreds of millions of Africans who depend on wild fish for nourishment and income. The key take-aways are also visualized in this two-page fact sheet for easy reference.
  • The Importance of Wild Fisheries for Local Food Security Briefing Book explores the role of fisheries in global development, highlights case studies of USAID fisheries programs, and addresses the importance of fisheries in nine Feed the Future countries.

Case Examples

  • The Siete Pecados Marine Park is a story of a coastal community’s persistence, in partnership with USAID/Philippines and others, to establish a marine protected area with an integrated approach that includes biodiversity conservation, climate resilience, and economic growth.
  • A USAID/Indonesia activity, Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (SEA) promotes vertical collaboration from local to national governments, and horizontal collaboration within the provincial government, around fisheries and marine conservation.
  • The Importance of Wild Fisheries for Local Food Security Country Summaries provide more detailed information on the contributions of wild fisheries to food security, livelihoods, economic growth, and community resilience in countries including, Ghana, Cambodia, Malawi, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Photo by: USAID SEA.

Biodiversity Conservation Improves Resilience to Shocks

Functional, biodiverse ecosystems provide products and services that are essential to maintaining food production and supply during shocks such as droughts and other natural disasters.

Reports and Evidence

  • The Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Food Security evidence summary outlines the contributions of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to food security through approaches like planting shade trees to improve soil fertility and support pollinators, managing watersheds to maintain water supplies, and diversifying crops to improve resistance to pest outbreaks.

Case Examples

PHOTO: Udo Rudiger for ICARDA

Cross-Cutting Resources

The Biodiversity Reference Sheetdescribes opportunities for integrating biodiversity with other development sectors that exist throughout the USAID portfolio, and can be realized by the coordination of existing programming, co-location of new activities, or planned co-funding. The full biodiversity integration reference sheet series includes resources for health, water and sanitation, food security, and democracy, human rights, and governance.

Integrating Ecosystem Values into Cost-Benefit Analysis: Recommendations for USAID and Practitioners provides recommendations for the incorporation of ecosystem service valuations into Agency cost-benefit analysis (CBA) across sectors, both for USAID staff that produce or use CBAs and for USAID as an institution.

Better Biodiversity Integration Through Geospatial Analysis describes the use of geospatial analysis for integrating biodiversity conservation with other development sectors at USAID.

Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) Sections 118/119 Tropical Forest and Biodiversity Analysis Best Practices Guide includes a scope of work template and an annotated analysis outline to help missions prepare for, manage, and conduct an FAA 118/119 analysis and understand how to use that report to support strategy development.

Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Integration. Coming Soon!

USAID Ecosystem-based Adaptation Series Synthesis describes a nature-based method for climate change adaptation that can reduce the vulnerability of people, natural systems, and economies to climate stressors. Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) provides flexible and cost-effective approaches that enhance resilience through the improved management and conservation of ecosystems. EbA can be an effective adaptation strategy alone or as an element of broader national, regional, and community adaptation plans. The synthesis summarizes a full series of EbA evidence summaries and case studies.

Musahar women collecting ferns for personal consumption. The Musahar are a socially marginalized and poor community in Nepal that relies closely on the forest for subsistence. Bagmara Buffer Zone. Sauraha, Chitwan District. Photo by: Jason Houston for USAID.