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Sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation in the tropics

Short title: Biodiversity and sustainable tropical agriculture

Chairs: Ana Rainho, Karen Mustin, Filipa Monteiro, Maria Manuel Romeiras

Contact: amrainho@ciencias.ulisboa.pt

The goal of this conference session is to explore the synergies between sustainable agriculture practices, such as agroforestry and organic farming, and biodiversity conservation in tropical regions. As the demand for agricultural products rises, it is imperative to strike a balance that ensures both food security and the preservation of rich tropical ecosystems. One key pathway is through support for small-scale family farming which produces 80% of the food consumed globally and covers 70-80% of farmland. In the Tropics, smallholders’ farmlands are often diverse agricultural systems, as compared with agribusiness which usually involves large-scale monocultures of commodities for export. Smallholder farmers are not only key for food security, but they also play a role in biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services provision and in local economies, supporting rural services, increasing local spending and acting to shorten the food supply chain and thus, reducing waste. Family farming also often represents on-going expressions of cultural traditions passed down through generations of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples and local communities (ITPLCs), and can be a key part of territorial development. In this session we will focus on the ways in which scientists and ITPLCs can work together to maintain diversified agricultural systems that simultaneously increase the availability of sustainably produced, culturally appropriate food and safeguard biodiversity. We will also discuss the importance of protecting natural habitats adjacent to farmlands and creating wildlife corridors to foster genetic diversity and resilience, the impacts of both staple and cash crops agroecosystems production as well as the incoming problems of monoculture regimes that foster imbalance agroecosystems by the reduced biodiversity and pests/diseases emergency. Join us in this critical discussion that aims to chart a sustainable and equitable path forward for tropical agriculture and biodiversity conservation.

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