The use of agrobiodiversity by indigenous and traditional agricultural communities in: Adapting to climate change



  • Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research


  • 27/12/2011

  • REGION :

  • Global


  • Agrobiodiversity, or agricultural biodiversity, includes all the components of biological diversity of relevance to food and agriculture, as well as the components of biological diversity that constitute the agro ecosystem: the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro organisms, at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, which sustain the functions, structure and processes of the agro ecosystem. Indigenous and traditional agricultural communities throughout the world depend on, and are custodians of, agrobiodiversity maintained within agricultural landscapes through various forms of traditional resource management. These communities are coping with an increasing number of interlocking stresses that result from different aspects of global change, including the problems related to population increase, insecure and changing land ownership, environmental degradation, market failures and market globalization, and protectionist and inappropriate policy regimes and climate change (Morton, 2007). Climate change presents a major concern, often interacting with or exacerbating existing problems. It makes new demands for adaptation and coping strategies, and presents new challenges for the management of the environment and agro ecosystems. Discussions on global policies related to climate change have largely disregarded the potentially negative effects of many of the proposed policies on indigenous and traditional agricultural communities and their livelihoods and rights. Agrobiodiversity has also been largely overlooked in discussions on climate change, despite its importance for the livelihoods of rural communities throughout the world and for the development of adequate adaptation and mitigation strategies for agriculture. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (Adger et al., 2007) ignores the role of diversity in production systems and the central role that agrobiodiversity will have to play in both adaptation and mitigation at the country, landscape, community and farmer levels. Indigenous and traditional agricultural communities are adapting to change and are developing ways of strengthening the resilience of agricultural landscapes through various local strategies based on the protection of traditional knowledge and agrobiodiversity. The approaches being adopted include the use of centuries old traditional practices (e.g. the forest management of indigenous Hani people of Yunnan province in China, and 3000 year old Cajete terraces and the associated agricultural system in Mexico) and their adaptation to changing conditions, as well as the development and adoption of new approaches. Over the past two years the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research has been collecting information on the ways in which indigenous peoples and rural communities have been using agrobiodiversity to help cope with climate change. The information comes from over 200 different stories, reports and articles from many different sources . Here we present an analysis of the information and identify the most important adaptation strategies adopted. We also set out some of the ways in which agrobiodiversity can be used to help improve the adaptability and resilience of the farming systems managed by rural communities and indigenous peoples around the world. A conceptual framework was designed to enable the review of a wide range of community devised strategies employed in agricultural ecosystems and landscapes in different environments (mountains, drylands, forests, wetlands and coastal regions). The results of the review elucidate the intrinsic link between adaptation and the protection of ecosystem, agrobiodiversity and traditional knowledge.


  • Agro-biodiversity, climate change, Agroforestry, Home gardens and other diversity-rich approaches, Crop, soil and water management, Organic agriculture, Traditional food systems, Pastoralism, Pollinator


  • Dunja Mijatovic with assistance from Paul Bordoni, Pablo Eyzaguirre, Elizabeth Fox, Sara Hutchinson, Frederick van Oudenhoven and Toby Hodgkin. PROFILE FOR DUNJA MIJATOVIC: Dunja Mijatović completed her Master of Science in Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Currently, she is associated with the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research. Her research focuses on agrobiodiversity, landscape ecology and traditional knowledge, with an emphasis on sustainable approaches to strengthening resilience to climate change.

For more details, please refer to the link below.