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Agriculture and Biodiversity

Agricultural biodiversity includes all components of biodiversity relevant to food and agriculture. It encompasses in particular the following dimensions:

Although about 7,000 plant species have been cultivated and collected for food by humans since agriculture began about 12,000 years ago, today only about 15 plant species and 8 animal species supply 90% of our food.

Organic farms may play an important role in safeguarding biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. A recent study in Saskatchewan compared bird numbers on different kinds of farms. The researchers found that organic farms had more upland and wetland birds than conventional farms, and included some species that were not found on conventional farms. The abundance of beneficial insects, such as carabid beetles and parasitic wasps is often higher on organic farms. They are encouraged by the absence of insecticides and presence of weeds that provide habitat and food.

Agriculture and Biodiversity links