Traditional varieties and breeds have the potential to thrive in their specific regions and can be key to food sovereignty and local development. It is fundamental to widely and clearly publicize the role of agro-ecological farmers as guardians of biodiversity and landscapes. The development and spread of genetic selection, devised to create commercial hybrid varieties, has led to a loss in variety and seed privatisation.

Over the last two decades, 75 % of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost, resulting in a decrease of ecosystem abilities to provide food for people and the function of other ecosystem services. Crop varieties are an integral part of genetic diversity. They developed over centuries due to human selection, management and natural evolution, which includes mutation, natural selection and hybridization. The genetic diversity within crops is the basis for any improvement, being naturally or human made. 

Halting the loss of this diversity contributes to the restoring of biodiversity and the improvement of productivity.

Further reading



In the paper “Biodiversity conservation and agricultural sustainability: towards a new paradigm of ‘ecoagriculture’ landscapes (2008)” Scherr and McNeely outline strategic actions required to mobilize ecoagriculture initiatives on a scale that would have a meaningful impact on global challenges.

The paper “Defining Integrated Landscape Management for Policymakers (2013)” by Scherr and Friedmann lays out and explains the five critical elements of integrated landscape management, particularly where agriculture is an important land use.

The report “Ecoagriculture: A Review and Assessment of its Scientific Foundations (2004)" by Buck et al elaborates on the opportunities, concepts, and challenges in ecoagriculture.

The report "Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production (2016)" from IPBES provides a critical assessment of the full range of issues facing decision-makers, including the value of, status, trends and threats to pollinators and pollination, and policy and management response options.

The report "From uniformity to diversity (2016)" from IPES-Food explores the potential for a shift to occur from current food systems, characterized by industrial modes of agriculture, to systems based around diversified agroecological farming.

The guide "Functional agrobiodiversity - Nature serving Europe’s farmers (2012)" by European Learning Network on Functional AgroBiodiversity provides insight into the concept of FAB, its links to agricultural and biodiversity policy.

The book “Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems: Scientific  Foundations for an Agrobiodiversity Index (2017)” by Bioversity International is the first step in the process of creating an agrobiodiversity index to help monitor conservation and use of agrobiodiversity.

The meta analysis “The effects of organic agriculture on biodiversity and abundance (2005)” by Bengtsson, Ahnström, and  Weibull raised the question if organic farming generally increases species richness within organism groups.

Within the paper “Designing agricultural landscapes for biodiversity-based ecosystem services (2017)“ Douglas Landis evaluates the current status of landscape design, ranging from fundamental ecological principles to resulting guidelines and socioeconomic tools.

The paper “Sustainable intensification in agricultural systems. Annals of Botany (2014)” by Pretty, J. and Z. Barucha describes the process where agricultural yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the conversion of additional non-agricultural land.

The “Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses (2013)” by National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America synthesize the current consensus on landscape approaches.

The article about the impact of landscape configuration on insects published by the Journal of Animal Ecology (2010) shows evidence that a landscape mosaic of different structures supports higher biodiversity.

The document "The importance of soil organic matter (2005)" by FAO deals with the transformation of organic matter by soil organisms and and discusses the various management practices that affect the accumulation of organic matter in the soil.


The "safety network for our crops" by ECPGR is a collaborative Programme among most European countries, aiming at ensuring the long-term conservation and facilitating the utilization of plant genetic resources in Europe. 

The project HealthyMinorCereals aims to re-diversify cereal cultivation in Europe, which today concentrates on wheat, barley and maize, e.g. by optimising the agronomy of selected smaller cereal degenotypes.

The project Capsalla is protoyping new open data based products which enhance the processes and viability of agrobiodiversity.