Balancing food security, vertebrate biodiversity, and healthy rice agroecosystems in Southeast Asia

Share this to :

In Southeast Asia, as mechanization increases, there is a need to evaluate the impact of how related changes in farming practices affect biodiversity. Furthermore, because of the large land area grown for rice, and the disproportionate share of agro-chemical inputs used to produce it in Southeast Asia, improving the environmental sustainability of rice landscapes would significantly benefit biological diversity conservation in the region.

Rice is the dominant food staple in Asia. In Asia, there are 52 million ha of lowland irrigated rice that provides food security to smallholder farmers while also having the potential to preserve wetland habitat for wildlife. Globally, all wetland habitats are at grave risk, and as a result, there are great concerns about the rates of loss of biological diversity.

A report from the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) highlighted that 35% of wetlands have been lost since 1970. A follow-up report in 2021 highlighted the conversion of wetlands to agricultural land use as an important process, with greater than 50% of wetlands at a global level being negatively impacted by agriculture either directly through land use conversion or indirectly through runoff of pesticides and inflow of plastics.

Rice agricultural systems provide important human-modified wetlands for wildlife, including undomesticated vertebrates. In an ecosystem service context, flooded rice wetland environments potentially provide important “supporting services” for wildlife through their extensive water networks. The border habits of agricultural lands in Europe are well documented as keys to the preservation and conservation of wildlife.

Share this to :