Coping with Climate Change and the Role of Agrobiodiversity

  • Kotschi J
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The world’s biological diversity is eroding. This concerns in particular the entire agricultural diversity of genes, species and their agrarian ecosystems, the resource base for food. With spe- cies becoming extinct, mankind is jeopardised. In this process, climate change is getting increas- ingly important. The most relevant climate change-related factors to agriculture are: the rise in temperature, reduced water supply and increased UV radiation. Severe implications are expected for agriculture and food supply notably in sub-tropical regions. As a consequence, a two-pronged strategy is required: mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Agrobiodiversity plays a key in this. This calls for a revision of present conservation approaches. Instead of ex-situ conservation in gene banks a broader concept has to be envisaged by which emphasis is on in-situ conservation and complemented by gene banks. The reason is twofold: (1) as future needs are unknown, a maximum of genetic resources has to be conserved and, at the lowest possible public cost. On- farm conservation is not necessarily less costly, but the costs are mainly borne by farmers and it produces private and public benefits, (2) adaptation of genetic resources to environmental change is necessary, a process that requires exposure to the environment, instead of being stored deep-frozen in a gene bank. So far, there is little awareness among professionals of the close relationship between climate change and food security and the role agrobiodiversity has to play. It is imperative to manage agrobiodiversity in a sustainable way. Climate change-induced environmental stress may in fact go beyond the reach of adaptation. But the in-situ approach offers a great chance to shape a fu- ture worth living.

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  • Johannes Kotschi

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