In the past, agriculture was considered the big menace to ecosystems, responsible for deforestation, water pollution and degrading natural resources. At times this has pitted those concerned with feeding people and alleviating poverty against those who want to preserve ‘natural’ ecosystems. Today, we recognize that agricultural ecosystems are the world’s largest ecosystem and play a central role in ensuring both human health and environmental health.
Agriculture is dependent on ecosystems to provide healthy diets for a growing global population; on the flip side, decisions we make regarding how to manage agricultural landscapes can transform their impact on the environment and contribute to environmental conservation and restoration.
The Ecosystem Services and Resilience cross-cutting research theme seeks to understand how services and benefits from ecosystems can be sustainably harnessed for food production and livelihood improvement. The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and its partners work with decision makers in developing countries and globally to consider ecosystems and the benefits they provide when investing in food and energy production as an essential strategy to achieving poverty alleviation and food security. This objective is central to all of WLE’s research themes and its approach.