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Sustaining the multiple functions of agricultural biodiversity

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The present paper is a contribution to the FAO/Netherlands Conference on the "Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land-MFCAL" that will take place in Maastricht, The Netherlands, in September 1999. The objective of the paper is to critically review the relationships between agricultural biodiversity and the functions of agro-ecosystems at different spatial and temporal scales. Selected examples are used to highlight the multiple functions of agricultural biodiversity and its links with rural livelihoods in a range of ecological and economic settings. In the first part of the paper the multiple functions of agricultural biodiversity are discussed in terms of its contributions to : food and livelihood security, production and environmental sustainability, rural development.~The forces which undermine agricultural biodiversity are then summarised in order to identify some of the policy and institutional reforms needed to sustain agricultural biodiversity and agroecosystem functions. The rationale for each major policy reform is presented in the concluding part of the paper along with specific options and suggestions for action.

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