Today, the world is almost silently witnessing the largest extinction event since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. By current rates this will lead to the extinction of more than one quarter of the world’s wild plants and animals by the middle of this century and many more continuing after.
The protection of land is a valid and successful way of preserving some species and most countries have designated certain wild areas for conservation. Protected areas cover roughly 10 percent of the Earth’s land surface, however according to models based on accepted ecological principles, if only the currently protected land areas remain as wildlife habitat, between 30 and 50 percent of the species will still be lost, because these reserves are not large enough or cover enough representative habitat to contain populations large enough to maintain the species.
Farming to feed the growing human population is one of the chief causes of extinction, through direct habitat destruction, diversion and control of ecosystem services such as water, pollution and fragmentation of habitats. Over 1.1 billion people live within the world’s biodiversity “hotspots,” areas described by ecologists as the most threatened species-rich regions on Earth. Population in tropical wilderness areas is, on average, growing at an annual rate of 3 percent—over twice the world’s average rate of growth.
Almost half of the areas currently protected for biodiversity are in regions where agriculture is a major land use, and food production will need to increase in coming decades to keep up with population growth and increasing demand. Some experts predict that the world’s demand for food will grow by 50 to 60 percent by 2030. Nearly half of the world’s most threatened species-rich areas contain human populations plagued by extreme malnutrition, with one-fifth or more of local populations undernourished. The question is how will these people be fed and at what price?
Politicians and civil society must work together on this enormous problem to find a solution but first we must recognize that endangered species, essential farmlands, and desperately poor humans often occupy the same ground.
CREA, a non profit organization is neither an environmental or a humanitarian group, since we believe these two things are inextricably linked. We are dedicated to finding solutions that benefit biodiversity and maintain essential ecosystem services while ensuring the development needs of local communities.
Our key objectives are to increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability on lands already being farmed so to spare essential wild habitat; enhance habitat on farmland and establish habitat corridors that link wild areas; protect habitat where it still exists and restore where possible; mimic natural habitats in farming landscapes; use farming methods that are or are near organic.