Common Ground, Common Future
Today, humanity faces a serious challenge. Much of the Earth’s biodiversity—the richness of its many species of flora and fauna—is at risk. The areas that are home to the greatest numbers of at-risk species are also home to large numbers of rural people, many of them desperately poor. Local agriculture, as the chief provider of food and livelihoods to these people, must expand to meet rapidly growing world demand, keep up with burgeoning populations, and prevent hunger. Yet agriculture, as currently practiced, is a chief cause of the destruction of valuable habitats, pushing species towards extinction. Agriculture cannot be curtailed, but if policies are not changed, large numbers of endangered species of all types will be lost in the next fifty years. But there are solutions. Around the world, farmers, scientists, and environmentalists are finding methods to conserve habitats and preserve species while boosting food production and improving the incomes of the poor. These innovations are based on the belief—borne out by empirical evidence—that humans and wild species can share common ground and prosper in a common future. Productive farming and effective conservation can occur on the same land through sound science and policy. It is to those innovators, whose stories are told here, that this report is dedicated.