Biodiversity conservation through agroforestry: managing tree species diversity within a network of community-based, nongovernmental, governmental and research organizations in western Kenya uri icon


  • Biodiversity, or the diversity of life in all its forms and at all levels of organization, has come under serious threat in many places in recent times. Several of the global hotspots of biodiversity are at the same time areas where human population density has increased tremendously, which has contributed to current global species extinction levels paralleling previous mass extinction events. Some researchers have therefore called to develop strategies for ecoagriculture â?? a new type of agriculture that combines objectives of ensuring food security and conserving biodiversity in the same landscapes â?? to complement other conservation methods. Agroforestry can be classified as ecoagriculture, since integration of productive woody perennials in farming systems (which is the definition of agroforestry) is one of the ecoagriculture strategies of mimicking natural habitats to conserve some wild biodiversity. This paper describes how an innovative scheme of networking with community-based organizations (CBOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental organizations and research organizations can contribute to biodiversity conservation in farmland and in relict natural ecosystems by diversifying agroforestry systems. The organizations collaborated with farmers in 10 interactive learning sites, which are part of the much larger network of the Consortium for Scaling-up Options for increasing Farm Productivity and incomes in western Kenya (COSOFAP). This consortium was initiated in 2001 and currently has more than 100 member organizations. The key objective of the consortium was to target resource-poor farmers by synergising the efforts of the many organizations that work in western Kenya. This synergy is achieved by establishing interactive learning sites that are strategically dotted all over western Kenya, and by avoiding duplication and fragmentation of efforts of the various organizations. The paper al so describes how COSOFAP has linked up with the Ministry of Environment and NEMA to diversity tree species on farms in we stern Kenya. The paper makes the case that effective management of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes can only be achieved by methods of adaptive management. One of the requirements for implementing adaptive management is to use appropriate methods of investigating patterns of biodiversity, and especially to train communities on how to use these methods. Since several of the scientifically recommended methods for investigating biodiversity can be mathematically quite complex, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has taken the lead in developing appropriate training materials and user-friendly free software to allow its partner organizations to investigate common biodiversity patterns. Results from various methods and their implication for biodiversity management in western Kenya are presented in the paper. One of the methods is using species accumulation curves to study the relationship between sampling scale and species richness. Another method is the use of diversity profiles to rank different sites in biodiversity. A third method is generalised linear modelling to study the relationship between farm and household characteristics and species richness. Some new ordination methods that allow investigating the influence of farm characteristics on species composition are also presented

publication date

  • 2005