Protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combatting desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss.
The Pacific Islands are home to approximately 5,330 native plant species, 242 native bird species, 61 native terrestrial reptiles, 15 native mammals, three endemic native amphibians and some 4,000 snail species. The majority of these creatures are found nowhere else on earth.
They are found on small specific island habitats, and are vulnerable to extinction. Recent reports state that in 2008, the Asia and Pacific region recorded the world’s highest number of threatened species.
Biodiversity loss in the region has been due to population pressures, use of wood for cooking fuel and building materials.
Even some subsistence agriculture practices, such as slash and burn techniques have contributed to this loss. The most significant impact, however, has been from commercial activities, such as logging and intensive commercial cropping. For example, between 1990 and 2005, the Solomon Islands lost 21.5 per cent of forest cover due to commercial logging; clearing of rainforests to cater for pineapple and sugarcane plantations has left Hawaii with less than 25 percent of its natural forests.
Traditional agro-forestry systems in the Pacific are naturally diverse but can also be improved by increasing agrobiodiversity through Organic Agriculture practices, such as integrated crop-tree animal systems, use of microorganisms and companion or other useful plants.
This, together with inter-cropping, the use of traditional and underutilized food and fodder species creates habitats, attracts pest enemies and pollinators and also reduces the risk of crop failure across the agro-ecosystem. Studies have shown that organically managed lands host up to 30 per cent more species, and up to 50 per cent higher abundance of species compared to non-organic farmlands. Organic farms also hold 46 to 72 per cent more semi-natural or natural habitats compared to non-organic farms. There is an urgent need to balance development needs with environmental concerns in the Pacific Islands and Organic Agriculture can contribute to meeting the region’s economic and social development objectives whilst also ensuring the protection of biodiversity and prevention of land degradation.