The International Day for Biological Diversity:Biodiversity and Agriculture 22 May 2008

Agricultural Biodiversity in Genes, Species and Ecosystems


The rich diversity of plants and animals that have been selected and cultivated over the centuries forms the basis of the genetic resources that farmers, livestock keepers, and other agriculturalists draw upon. The conservation and sustainable use of animal breeds, and of local varieties, and wild relatives of domesticated crops are considered a genetic insurance policy for adapting to changing environmental conditions, such as climate change, and consumer demands for now and in the future.


It is essential for every human to have adequate access, availability, and stability of food and that the foods they eat meet their nutritional needs. While these needs differ somewhat by age, stage of growth, sex, health status and activity, everyone must have sufficient protein, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients. Nutrition improves with consumption of greater food diversity or species, particularly in fruits and vegetables. In this way, diverse diets can contribute to the fight against problems of malnutrition and obesity in both developing and developed countries.


The health and well being of humans and other species across the planet depends on a variety of ecosystem goods and services. Agriculture is supported by a variety of ecosystem services and is itself a service.
  • provisioning services: food, fiber, fuel, biochemical, genetic resources and fresh water;
  • regulating services: flood, pest control, pollination, seed dispersal, erosion regulation, water purification, and climate and disease control;
  • cultural services: spiritual and religious values, knowledge systems, education and inspiration, and recreational and aesthetic values; and
  • supporting services: primary production, nutrient cycling, provision of habitat, production of atmospheric oxygen and water cycling.

For the conservation and sustainable use of Agricultural Biodiversity and ecosystem services, the CBD has several international cross-cutting initiatives on Pollinators, Soil Biodiversity and the Food and Nutrition. Furthermore, the ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way.