Nature's Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty



Landscapes Are Frequently Seen As Fragments Of Natural Habitat Surrounded By A Sea Of Agriculture But Recent Ecological Theory Shows That The Nature Of These Fragments Is Not Nearly As Important For Conservation As Is The Nature Of The Matrix Of Agriculture That Surrounds Them Local Extinctions From Conservation Fragments Are Inevitable And Must Be Balanced By Migrations If Massive Extinction Is To Be Avoided High Migration Rates Only Occur In What The Authors Refer To As High Quality Matrices, Which Are Created By Alternative Agroecological Techniques, As Opposed To The Industrial Monocultural Model Of Agriculture The Authors Argue That The Only Way To Promote Such High Quality Matrices Is To Work With Rural Social Movements Their Ideas Are At Odds With The Major Trends Of Some Of The Large Conservation Organizations That Emphasize Targeted Land Purchases Of Protected Areas They Argue That Recent Advances In Ecological Research Make Such A General Approach Anachronistic And Call, Rather, For Solidarity With The Small Farmers Around The World Who Are Currently Struggling To Attain Food SovereigntyNature S Matrix Proposes A Radically New Approach To The Conservation Of Biodiversity Based On Recent Advances In The Science Of Ecology Plus Political Realities, Particularly In The World S Tropical RegionsNature's Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty

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Reading ➿ Nature's Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty Author Ivette Perfecto – E17streets4all.co.uk
  • Paperback
  • 242 pages
  • Nature's Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty
  • Ivette Perfecto
  • English
  • 25 September 2018
  • 1844077829

10 thoughts on “Nature's Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty

  1. says:

    Nature s Matrix is a manifesto for a new paradigm in conservation biology It gives sustainable agriculture a productive role in region scale ecological restoration and puts small indigenous communities in the driver s seat The book is really amazing and says so many awesome things that I am struggling to keep it all coherent here.Vandermeer and Perfecto start with a new model for species conservation, the metapopulation Many species historically existed in metapopulations Island and pond cre Nature s Matrix is a manifesto for a new paradigm in conservation biology It gives sustainable agriculture a productive role in region scale ecological restoration and puts small indigenous communities in the driver s seat The book is really amazing and says so many awesome things that I am struggling to keep it all coherent here.Vandermeer and Perfecto start with a new model for species conservation, the metapopulation Many species historically existed in metapopulations Island and pond creatures are at an extreme end, forced to traverse many leagues of totally inhospitable terrain to reach other population groups and mix genes Disturbance adapted forest plants and floodplain annuals are similar, since they must quickly hop to wherever the canopy is clear, traversing heavy shade in the process Today, almost every conservative species exists in a metapopulation state, forced to cross some hostile matrix to reach other population centers The crucial lesson here is that species persistence in the long term depends on migrations between these areas, since random chance and misfortune may doom local populations, and because genetic diversity must be maintained This is just the first element of the old paradigm that Vandermeer and Perfecto impugn It is not sufficient, they maintain, to fence off pristine habitat and protect it from development We must also see to it that the space in between these preserved habitat fragments provides a sufficient matrix quality for the species we mean to preserve to travel back and forth periodically Their critique begins with this brief ecological thesis, but it is expanded and defended through a dazzling presentation of economic and environmental history This is where the authors really shine, and where their paradigm s real distinction lies They give extensive histories of both the Columbian Exchange and colonialism and explain the implications these events have on conservation policy They show that it is neo liberal economics and absentee land barons driving the poor to sacrifice the land base for short term profit, and therefore that any serious environmental plan must also be a social justice plan, helping smallholders gain land tenure and economic human rights When smallholders have land tenure, they use local indigenous techniques and new innovations to increase the value of their land for future generations They create multi functional landscapes that supply diverse food, fuel, and fire needs to families as well as feeding surplus into regional markets It s here that Vandermeer and Perfecto make a really insightful argument about yield I hadn t considered before In energy economics, there is something called the Jevons Paradox Energy efficiency improvements could be used to drastically reduce fuel consumption But without any outside limit on fuel use, any efficiency improvements instead simply reduce the price of energy and cause the economy to useof itefficient power plants make each gram of coalvaluable They don t provide any incentive to keep coal in the ground.It s the same with grain yield Advances like the Green Revolution and the new GMO revolution are often claimed to help us spare land for conservation by meeting growing food needs on the land currently in cultivation However, this could only happen if all arable land were preserved and grain prices were stabilized externally Otherwise, grain yields increase at the expense of matrix quality , and prices go down Low price grain means that farmers must growto meet their financial needs, which means increasing land in cultivation The intensification process involves sacrificing a tremendous amount of planned and wild biodiversity on the farm, often including resources like fish, medicinal herbs, and natural pest control that had been part of the traditional management regime Framed broadly, Nature s Matrix tells us that traditional farmers with techniques that maintained high quality matrix have been assaulted systematically by neo liberal economics, degrading their lifestyles and degrading matrix quality, which in turn threatens biodiversity in preserves It frees us from the preconceptions we have about wilderness without human sustenance, eliminating the agriculture bad preserve good dichotomy and allows us to see farms as valuable habitat if they re designed properly How to design a farm well isa theme than a thesis of the book the lesson we re meant to take is usually that indigenous and traditional smallholders know best how to do this in any given area But of course, since I m about to try to build a farm practicing Restoration Agriculture, this is what I was most interested in All the examples here were focused on tropical ecosystems, since this is where rural poverty, high biodiversity, and well established perennial polyculture agroecological systems exist in tandem There are a ton of great examples, from the coffee shade forests of Central America to the Chagga Homegardens of Kilimanjaro to wetland rice paddies of southeast Asia to shifting cultivation and milpa systems in Mexico This framework is really valuable, because it shows us land use in temperate areas in a whole new light Since there are tropical systems between forest and cornfield, we can see them as endpoints on a spectrum of matrix quality and intensification, rather than dichotomous states Some places are for humans, some places are for birds, but most land ought to be useful for both The wilderness myth is vanquished utterly DThe principles can and should be applied to a temperate forest, savanna, or prairie ecosystem We have endangered species living in patches in highly fragmented, largely agricultural landscapes here too, and we have an emerging local food movement eager to contribute to environmental quality We just need models appropriate for each bioregion here that can accomplish what shade coffee and wetland rice achieve in the tropics This is what Mark Shepard has done in southwestern Wisconsin, and it is what I intend to do in the Fox Valley We model the system on the native forest type as much as possible which of course means perennial polyculture and then modify the design enough to meet our needs, using indigenous land use patterns as a model Of course, without any surviving native forest patches, much less indigenous communities or smallholders making a living on them, it s much harder for us to develop a historical model Most indigenous communities here now just practice normal sustainable land use, which is usually relatively intensified and of poor matrix quality compared to many of the examples in the tropics I don t know how well I managed to squeeze all that in, but I ll try to sum it up Conservation requires migration between population patches, which means high matrix quality A quality matrix resembles native habitat in many ways, so agricultural systems based on forest and prairie are far superior to chemical cornfields These systems provide many social benefits as well diverse nutrition and resilient production, ecosystem services like pest control and fertility, etc but they are complex and labor intense and low input, and depend on smallholders with land tenure and access to cooperative credit and markets, protected from neo liberal bullying Thereforeconservation depends on social justice for developing world peasants All the social and environmental issues are tied together into one cohesive picture with agriculture front and center what could be better

  2. says:

    The argument of this book is essentially a Most native habitat in the tropics is highly fragmented and exists within a matrix of alternate land usesb Local extinctions within this matrix are inevitable, however, can be counterbalanced by migration, i.e global extinctions are not inevitablec The extent to which migration occurs is strongly dependent on the quality of the matrixd High quality matrixes support migration of various taxa through landscapes and prevent local extinctions from sum The argument of this book is essentially a Most native habitat in the tropics is highly fragmented and exists within a matrix of alternate land usesb Local extinctions within this matrix are inevitable, however, can be counterbalanced by migration, i.e global extinctions are not inevitablec The extent to which migration occurs is strongly dependent on the quality of the matrixd High quality matrixes support migration of various taxa through landscapes and prevent local extinctions from summing to global extinctions low quality matrixes are hostile to migration e The primary focus of biodiversity conservation should be on the quality of the matrixMost land uses in the tropics are different forms of agriculture, so Perfecto et al focus their argument on how ecological planning and sustainable practices within agricultural landscapes can be madeconducive to species migration They argue that agriculture has historically been conceived of as a zero sum game i.e as necessarily being exclusionary of biodiversity conservation but that instead, agricultural systems can be and are an important repository for biodiversity Small scale, low input intensity and poly cropped agro ecosystems are the best such repositories, and for this reason, conservation efforts should focus on generating political, technical, and economic support for these systems I m 80 90% on board One problem I have getting 100% on board is that yield density tradeoffs haven t been fully explored yet Is land sparing a better approach in some situations I think they would argue back that it doesn t matter because of issues of land rights and food sovereignty that s a local argument though and what I find problematic are the global implications of a complete paradigm shift if yields suffer dramatically A second problem I have is that some biodiversity simply cannot exist within an agricultural matrix The reserve based approach to biodiversity conservation is often socially problematic and needs to be carefully navigated, but it is still an important component of the biodiversity conservation portfolio I m not sure their argument excludes this though My largest problem with the book is that it doesn t provide muchthan wishy washy utopian suggestions for how and why we should go back to the farm and manage sustainably for local needs Barring the complete dissolution of the neo liberal model of economic development, this isn t viable on a global scale That said, I see this book as enormously important It argues compelling for the role of agriculture in biodiversity conservation, and demonstrates clearly and intelligently the multiple linkages between land rights, food security and biodiversity conservation For like 10 pages, it also made me want to be a socialist and a farmer A , 5 stars, etc

  3. says:

    The park system is the prevailing model for biodiversity protection in the world think Teddy R and the US National Park Service think Tanzania s Selous National Park, the biggest in the world Armed guards, strict rules, nature here, humans there Biologists have long recognized that local extinctions are common, even in these big, dynamic parks, so corridors were the rage a few years ago, little pathways that would connect two natural areas to each other to allow migration the soluti The park system is the prevailing model for biodiversity protection in the world think Teddy R and the US National Park Service think Tanzania s Selous National Park, the biggest in the world Armed guards, strict rules, nature here, humans there Biologists have long recognized that local extinctions are common, even in these big, dynamic parks, so corridors were the rage a few years ago, little pathways that would connect two natural areas to each other to allow migration the solution to local extinction bridges over busy highways, for example Most ecologists have found this approach hasn t worked Using a dazzling array of different disciplinary perspectives biology, history, politics, anthropology , Perfecto et al propose a matrix model of biodiversity protection that recognizes humans as potential stewards of the environment right where they live and work Conservationists, they argue, have been blind to the political realities that drive extinction in the most sensitive regions, regions that happen to be in the poorest areas of the world They focus their attention on agriculture, which has been such a destructive force in places like BrazilianBut they draw an important distinction between the Green Revolution style industrial system usually encouraged by the global economic powers and the farming practiced by smallholders around the world The latter, they argue, actually contribute to this matrix of biodiversity by showingcare for the land and thus conservationists should support and work closely with rural social movements that advocate for them.The book cites two large case studies from Latin America from coffee farms in Central America and cocoa farms in Brazil In both cases, the authors found a rich diversity of species living in and migrating through the farms These farms practiced traditional and or sustainable methods that involved the use of naturally occurring shade trees Examples of maize farming in Mexico and wetland protection via rice fields in Southeast Asia are also provided The authors make a well developed argument that supporting such farms should be central to any conservation plan, especially in the developing world One minor criticism I have is the authors somewhat incongruous choice of cash crop farms as a case study in arguing for food sovereignty The methods practiced by these farmers is admirable, but they re still at the whim of global markets to a large extent Farms provisioning food for local markets should play a bigger role in any discussion of food sovereignty Nevertheless, the findings are hopeful and paradigm rattling and will likely make conservationists and rural development practitioners rethink their methods

  4. says:

    The authors extend the simple idea behind shade grown coffee that the success of the neotropical migrants that visit the temperate U.S every spring depends in part on the quality of their wintering grounds in Central America into aelaborate model that encompasses a much wider group of factors, including resident species, other agroforestry systems, and farmers rights to the land they depend on In their view, agriculture is seen as ecosystem management, and political solutions to poverty The authors extend the simple idea behind shade grown coffee that the success of the neotropical migrants that visit the temperate U.S every spring depends in part on the quality of their wintering grounds in Central America into aelaborate model that encompasses a much wider group of factors, including resident species, other agroforestry systems, and farmers rights to the land they depend on In their view, agriculture is seen as ecosystem management, and political solutions to poverty are preferred to technological ones.Perfecto et al point out that a given species is always at risk of being locally extirpated from a given area of land, with a probability of e But the likelihood of global extinction, given by the formula 1 e m, where m is the probability that a population will migrate into a given area Managing the migration rate is just as important as managing the extirpation rate Patches of land cropped into coffee, cacao, or corn and beans, if properly managed, can provide local migration connections between stands of deep forest, serving the same needs asconventional wildlife corridors The authors cite as an example the Highland Guan Penelopina nigra , which doesn t visit a coffee farm to feed, but rather as a route between wooded areas.The authors reject themainstream approach to habitat protection, designating areas in which agriculture is forbidden, and backing up that protection with armed guards where possible In part, they attribute this all or nothing approach to an outdated Malthusianism Perfecto et al don t see land management as a zero sum game It s quite true that our capacity to feed people has exploded since the 19th century when Malthus was active, but the fact remains that in the short and medium run, there are technological limits to how much the land can produce.A case study, again from coffee cultivation p 148 , of the complicated trophic effects involving shade trees, insectivorous birds, Azteca sp ants, a scale insect, a parasitic fly, a parasitic wasp, and larvae of a lady beetle is quite impressive.This is a valuable work, recommended for ecologists who aren t afraid of taking a quite broad systems perspective to the problems of feeding people and keeping the land alive.

  5. says:

    From the title and the physical aspect of this book, I figured it would read like a textbook and that I would struggle to finish it However, I received this book from someone I greatly admire and whom I wouldn t want to disappoint by NOT finishing it, so I committed myself to reading it and the further I got into it, theI enjoyed it I found Nature s Matrix to be both accessible and eye opening, and relevant to both my work and my food consumption choices GO ORGANIC

  6. says:

    This book mixes the science of conservation biology and the politics behind it in very accessible language It It gives a good analysis of the situation as it plays out in Latin America I learned a lot.

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