Eco-tourism values environmental awareness, cultural appreciation and socially responsible travel. It can have a positive influence on the social, cultural, economic, and environmental well-being of a destination and its local community. In particular it can provide an economic incentive to conserve and enhance natural ecosystems and maintain cultural individuality. Knowledge about ecological conservation and heritage building preservation is imparted to visitors, who can then take positive actions themselves.
The conservation of flora and fauna is vital for the proper functioning of ecosystems. Without the natural richness of biodiversity, ecosystems are more vulnerable to adversity such as human disturbance and climate change. Biodiversity can be improved through habitat protection, pollution reduction, elimination of hunting, and removal of introduced pest species.
Heritage building preservation.
Heritage buildings hold historic, cultural and landscape significance. Historic farm buildings illustrate the practices of agriculture and reflect the people who settled the region and how they adapted to develop a successful enterprise. The buildings often exemplify the crafts and skills associated with an era and community.
The engagement and empowerment of local people is essential when managing natural resources. The involvement of local communities to conserve and develop agroecosystems, provides local employment, skills, and enhances community fabric. It also aids the emergence of strong local institutions and long-term commitment from stakeholders.
Agroforestry systems offer farms multiple benefits, ranging from increased soil organic matter, sequestering carbon, and providing shelter for livestock. Agroforesty assists farmers in diversifying their incomes by providing them with a broad range of products, and increased resilience against market fluctuations. Forestry products include fruits, timber, fuelwood, and resins. The increased vegetation provides farmers with a micro climate, which can protect crops and livestock against the vagaries of climate extremes. Greater quantities of carbon are sequestered from trees than annual crops, and in some instances provide farmers with access to carbon markets. Nitrogen-fixing shrubs and trees can significantly increase soil fertility and have flow on effects to crop yields.
Greater consumer awareness of food systems will help people in their dietary choices and increase awareness of wastage issues. Education can assist consumers in the identification and support for food production processes and distribution practices that have greater efficiencies and cause less adversities.
Regional programs can be established in order to educate people on sustainable land-use practices, and promote consumption of nutritional and ethically produced food. This can be done by aligning marketing by retailers with public health and environmental goals.
Training provides people with practical skills to manage their resources and their business. Up-skilling people will help them help themselves and make positive contributions to their community.
Indigenous knowledge and skills
Indigenous knowledge is that which has been passed down through generations. It combines regional stimuli, science and cultural influences, and looks at local solutions that have allowed the management of ecosystems and cultural landscapes throughout history. Today, traditional knowledge can be used when interacting with our environment in order to enhance resource potentials without exhausting them.
Pioneers are people who settled a foreign area, and with them brought new ideas and practices, which they often adapted to the new location. Pioneer settlements often have an interesting mix of cultural influences. The skills they developed demonstrate their adaptability, and how their thoughts and experiences progressed.
Apart from the economic benefits of injecting finance into local farming communities, some of the non-economic benefits of local food include the increased consumption of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables, the reduced environmental impact from processing and transport, and the enhanced social capital. Food produced locally usually has lower ‘food-miles’ and therefore less emissions and energy attributed to it from paddock production to the consumer consumption. Buying local produce strengthens local food chains and supports farming communities.
The preservation of traditional breeds and heirloom species is important for cultural reasons as well as reducing the dangers associated with narrowing the genetic base. The loss of genes influencing adaption ability and disease resistance could have dire consequences for a species. The role of traditional breeds and heirloom species is invaluable if creating sustainable agricultural systems for future generations.
Around the world women play a significant role in food and fibre production. However, in developing countries very few have rights to land, can access credit, or have the opportunity for education and training in sustainable land management. Women are generally more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on natural resources for their livelihood. Women smallholder farmers are on the front line of climate change, and play a vital role in delivering both economic and social benefits when provided with the right tools for action. Food security, poverty eradication, and climate change adaption and mitigation can only be truly embraced if we promote gender equality and empower women.
The youth of our societies have energy, are creative, are flexible, and do not want to inherit environmental degradation from their forebears. Youth provide inspiration and commitment to enhancing agroecosystems. Their participation in and understanding of agricultural systems and heritage is vital for the safeguarding of historic farming properties now and in the future.
Science provides the foundation for credible decision making. It helps to reduce uncertainties and present opportunities for a higher quality existence. Science can be adopted to understand natural ecosystems, and reduce the human footprint upon these. Science can reduce and prevent environmental degradation, climate change and loss of biodiversity.