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Case studies

Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI.
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Written by: Olivia Bailey
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Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Agricultural Landscapes programme has a successful track record in catalysing and supporting sustainable farming initiatives, increasing productivity without compromising the long-term health of ecosystems, improving access to markets for smallholder farmers, safeguarding livelihoods, lifting marginalised rural communities out of poverty, and working with some of the major players in the agricultural sector to minimise their environmental footprint. Here is a snapshot of our current projects:

Improving sustainable use of nature resources in Ometepe

Since its designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, FFI has been working with local partners to make biodiversity conservation and the use of natural resources more resilient and sustainable on the volcanic island of Ometepe, situated in Lake Nicaragua. Through our partnership with local NGO Fundación Entre Volcanes, FFI has worked with local farmers to develop and trial climate adaptation measures on ten demonstration farms.  FFI has helped build adaptation solutions into farm-level, as well as island-level, plans.

As a result of this project, Ometepe’s farmers are increasingly aware of the benefits of agroforestry in protecting crops from increased rainfall and landslides; mulching in protecting soil cover and maintaining soil moisture in periods of drought and increased temperatures; and reforestation in protecting essential local water sources. These strategies have been shared across the island, with farmers advocating their new, sustainable and biodiversity-friendly techniques to other farmers.

Ometepe, Nicaragua. Credit: Karina Berg/FFI.

Ometepe Island Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua. Credit: Karina Berg/FFI.

Conserving Romania’s Zarand landscape

FFI is working with Zarand Association to protect the Zarand region’s diverse and distinctive landscape, which is under threat from agricultural abandonment, loss of traditional agricultural practices, more intensive small-scale farming, intensified  forestry practices, as well as large-scale infrastructure development, exacerbated by socio-economic decline of rural communities. This has in part focused on improving local livelihoods by supporting small-scale sustainable agricultural and other rural business initiatives.

For example, bee keeping is a traditional farming practice and by providing new bee hives that are chemical free and require less work, more honey can be marketed at a higher value. Bee keeping also encourages communities to value wildflower meadows which rely on low-intensity grazing.

FFI also helped construct a milk collection facility in the village of Rosia Noua which allows local farmers who only have a few cows to combine the milk they collect and therefore provide larger quantities. This can then be sold or used in the production of higher-value dairy products such as butter.

Supporting chemical free bee keeping. Credit: Olivia Bailey/FFI.

Supporting chemical free bee keeping. Credit: Olivia Bailey/FFI.

Collaborating with farmers in Vietnam

The majority of FFI’s site level conservation work in Vietnam has been in collaboration with farmers and farming communities as key stakeholders who shape the landscape in and around protected areas. We work at these sites to support their livelihoods and look for sustainable solutions to the challenges faced.

This includes a range of activities from improving the efficiency of local water management systems by shifting from wooden to metal waterwheels, trialling different crops to act as deterrents to crop raiding and damage from wildlife, developing woodlots for a more local fuel supply, introducing fuel-efficient stoves to reduce firewood demand, to understanding the impact of cardamom harvesting and drying on the forests.

From studies carried out in the Quan Ba District we know that harvesting and drying cardamom reduces the quality of the forests and these forests are the home of the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. We will be scaling up our partnerships with the communities to find sustainable and beneficial solutions to the current challenges from cardamom production in this region whilst continuing to support their agricultural livelihoods.

Rice fields in Vietnam. Credit: FFI.

Rice fields in Vietnam. Credit: FFI.

Co-managing a protected area in Liberia

The Wonegizi Community REDD+ Pilot is a community-based approach to establish and co-manage the protected area – marking it the first time that this approach has been used in Liberia. FFI with our local NGO partner, Skills & Agricultural Development Services (SADS), are providing technical support to the 13 communities living in and around the protected area to reduce the impact of agricultural drivers of deforestation.

Using a Farmer Field School approach farmers are taking the lead and with our support they are designing and trialling a variety of different agriculture measures aiming to improve soil fertility, manage weeds and pests, and decrease labour burdens. These will all ultimately increase yields, improve livelihoods and food security. By increasing the efficiency of land use and agricultural output, our aim is to support the transfer from unsustainable, annual clearing of mature forest (slash and burn) to a permanent rotational farming system and reduce the rates of deforestation.

In 2017 we are working with around 260 farmers through farmer field schools and we aim to double this number year on year. We will also be exploring new market opportunities for a range of tree crops and associated technical support to improve crops yields and quality.

Mangroves in Liberia. Credit: Josh Kempinski.

Mangroves in Liberia. Credit: Josh Kempinski.

Protecting South Africa’s unique floral landscape

The Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa is known for its rich biodiversity, sporting some 8,000 plant species alone. Of that, nearly 70% of species are found nowhere else in the world. Fynbos faces numerous threats including invasive species, the clearing of fynbos-covered areas, over-harvesting and poor picking methods of fynbos.

With FFI’s support, Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) provides support to fynbos harvesters and landowners – through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme – to encourage correct picking practices. FVCT also works closely with key fynbos suppliers and retailers, including Marks & Spencer, to sell responsibly picked fynbos bouquets.

Sustainable harvesting of fynbos. Credit: Flower Valley Conservation Trust/Kobus Tollig Photography.

Sustainable harvesting of fynbos. Credit: Flower Valley Conservation Trust/Kobus Tollig Photography.

Improving food security in Cambodia

The success of sustainable community-led conservation is intertwined with the livelihoods and development of the communities themselves. Based on this understanding, FFI listened to Khmer Dauem (original Khmer) indigenous communities issues, needs and wants and together developed a project aiming to improve food security and livelihoods of the active communities.

These communities have on average over three hunger months a year, produce low rice yields, have poor nutritional status and have an annual income as low as $0.50 a day. The project therefore, aims to work with these communities to improve their rice yields, diversify their vegetables production, improve their chicken raising skills and strengthen the market access. This project is funded by the UK Government and more details can be found here.

Areng waterfall, Cardamom Mountains. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI.

Areng waterfall, Cardamom Mountains. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI.

Conserving wild pollinators and increasing food security

A diverse community of pollinators provides the most effective and stable crop pollination, but research suggests that wild pollinators are in decline. Commercial agriculture and crop procurement companies have a vested interest in maintaining pollinator services, but are currently unresponsive to this issue.

Focusing on the procurement of pollinator-dependent crops, the purpose of this project, which brings together FFI, UNEP-WCMC, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the University of East Anglia, is to catalyse private sector action to support the conservation of wild pollinator populations. For instance, this will promote good practice to ensure sustainable sourcing of pollinator-dependent crops. Project outputs will be shared with national level policy makers in targeted countries. Find out more here.

Credit: Guy Smith.

Credit: Guy Smith.

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Olivia Bailey

Olivia Bailey is Fauna & Flora International’s Communications Assistant. With a BSc in Zoology, Olivia is passionate about connecting people with nature to create a sustainable future.

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