Keynote Lectures

Description

“Marginal areas” are perceived as difficult and unproductive landscapes, always under the threat of drought, desertification and poverty. Yet, both dryland and high altitude marginal areas have an extraordinary output of livestock products; in the efficiency of producing human-edible protein they far surpass more fertile areas. This productivity under adverse climatic conditions rests on sophisticated strategies and social institutions developed by pastoral communities to deal with variability in the availability of resources. It depends on the use of animal genetic resources that are adapted to make best use of local vegetation and can cope with seasonal variations in availability. Livestock production in marginal areas is based on the principle of opportunistic and optimal use of available resources; it differs fundamentally from the principles of mainstream animal science in which everything is measurable and predictable. The first requisite for ecologically and socially sustainable livestock development in marginal areas is recognition of this fact. Secondly, interventions should focus on enhancing the opportunistic use of resources whose availability is unpredictable. Building on this principle, further essential policy measures include support for mobility and modern communication, securing the commons, payment for environmental services as well as value addition and dedicated marketing channels for the high quality livestock products generated. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides the legal framework for such an approach and Biocultural Community Protocols as mandated by the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing are an important first step towards leveraging such supportive measures.

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Ecologically and Socially Sustainable Livestock Development in Marginal Areas

“Marginal areas” are perceived as difficult and unproductive landscapes, always under the threat of drought, desertification and poverty. Yet, both dryland and high altitude marginal areas have an extraordinary output of livestock products; in the efficiency of producing human-edible protein they far surpass more fertile areas. This productivity under adverse climatic conditions rests on sophisticated strategies and social institutions developed by pastoral communities to deal with variability in the availability of resources. It depends on the use of animal genetic resources that are adapted to make best use of local vegetation and can cope with seasonal variations in availability. Livestock production in marginal areas is based on the principle of opportunistic and optimal use of available resources; it differs fundamentally from the principles of mainstream animal science in which everything is measurable and predictable. The first requisite for ecologically and socially sustainable livestock development in marginal areas is recognition of this fact. Secondly, interventions should focus on enhancing the opportunistic use of resources whose availability is unpredictable. Building on this principle, further essential policy measures include support for mobility and modern communication, securing the commons, payment for environmental services as well as value addition and dedicated marketing channels for the high quality livestock products generated. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides the legal framework for such an approach and Biocultural Community Protocols as mandated by the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing are an important first step towards leveraging such supportive measures.