Biodiversity for food and agriculture includes the components of biological diversity that are essential for feeding human populations and improving the quality of life. It includes the variety and variability of ecosystems, animals, plants and micro-organisms, at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, which are necessary to sustain human life as well as the key functions of ecosystems. Such diversity is the result of thousands of years of farmers’ and breeders’ activities, land and forest utilization, and fisheries and aquaculture activities combined with millions of years of natural selection.

Most of the human population lives in areas where food production and nature co-exist together. Biodiversity for food and agriculture can be managed to maintain or enhance ecosystem functions to provide options for the optimization of agricultural production, and contribute to the resilience of ecosystems for risk mitigation. Indeed, biodiversity enhances ecosystem services because those components that appear redundant at one point in time become important when changes occur.

As countries become dependant on other foreign countries for natural resources, there will be a significant decline in the amount of managed lands such as coppice, grasslands, and agricultural fields. Due to infrequent natural and human disturbances, there is also a decline in early-successional species – all of these factors contribute greatly to the decline in biodiversity.

Urbanization and globalization pose the greatest threats to biodiversity. Practices such as the maintenance of turfgrass lawns, tree pruning, application of pesticides and herbicides and, planting non-native plant species threaten biodiversity in all cities.

As habitats decrease around the globe because of human growth and climate change, scientists and urban city planners are working to preserve as much of the natural world as they can within a man-made space. Cities play a key role in the conservation of biodiversity, mainly through the management and planning of Urban Green Spaces (UGS). In order to deliver effective conservation, it’s imperative to identify major challenges in managing biodiversity within cities. From a complex assortment of socio-economic factors to multiple stakeholders, to social constraints, we need to find solutions for all these to witness long-term results. 

Urbanization research is predominantly directed towards the negative impact of urbanization on ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, or protected areas. However, this stigmatization of the urban landscape can distract from the high levels of biodiversity that may and should flourish inside cities. So instead of picking on the flaws of urbanization, we must try and increase biodiversity within our spaces to the best of our ability!

5 best ways to foster biodiversity within a cityscape:

  • Provide Wildlife Corridors and Connections Between Green Space
  • Use Organic Maintenance Methods and Cut Back On Lawns
  • Use a Native Plant Palette and Plant Appropriately
  • Utilize Existing Green Space Connections
  • Be Mindful of Non-Native Predators

A key challenge for UGS conservation, design, and management is balancing human perceptions, needs, and use with ecological requirements for preserving and enhancing biodiversity. Research and collaboration among scientists and resource managers will enhance our ability to conserve and manage biodiversity in UGS.