FAO: spotlight on grasslands biodiversity

How is biodiversity linked to food security? A side event, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia and the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture at the 36th session of the European Commission on Agriculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Yerevan, Armenia, highlighted the fundamental role of grasslands biodiversity in securing food supply.

Grassland Photo: Flickr/ecstaticist

“Steppe and grasslands are often forgotten when we discuss key habitats, as most of the world’s attention is focused on tropical forests and high mountains. However, grasslands are a very important part of the European landscape, especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia“ underlined Dr Hans Friederich, IUCN Regional Director for Pan-Europe.

Grasslands biodiversity and agricultural production are strongly interlinked. For instance, recent changes in farming systems in Armenia have resulted in fragmentation of grasslands. The continued degradation of natural resources and ecosystem services and other pressures on the environment, such as pollution, invasive species and expansion of urban areas, put biodiversity in serious threat.

During the event, background information was provided by FAO, and case studies from Armenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains were presented. Dr Hans Friederich reflected on the IUCN's Countdown 2010 Initiative and described IUCN biodiversity strategy for the coming decade.

The event will lead to increased collaboration between IUCN, its Commission on Ecosystem Management and FAO with regards to ecosystem services of grasslands within the IUCN Pan-European Programme.

During the visit to Yerevan, Dr Hans Friederich and Anja Wittich, Programme Coordinator, IUCN Programme Office for the Southern Caucasus, also met with Dr Simon Papyan, First Deputy Minister for Nature Protection for discussions about IUCN in Armenia. They also visited the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds, an IUCN Member, and the local offices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), GTZ and the EU Delegation to Armenia.

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