Biocultural Exchange, Bhutan

Who We Are 

The International Network for Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) was established three years ago in the Himalayas of Bhutan among the ten participating countries of Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan, Tajikistan, and Thailand. INMIP was formed for capacity building in establishing and implementing Biocultural Heritage Territories and for sharing knowledge on climate change adaptation and the development of innovations that support resilience. INMIP is an important instrument for supporting implementation of local, national and international climate change programs and policies, and to strengthen sustainable management practices in mountain territories.

The network has celebrated three International Learning Exchanges (Bhutan in 2014, Tajikistan in 2015, and China in 2016) each producing a Declaration outlining key messages that call on governments, research and civil society organizations and the international community to recognize the value of biocultural heritage and traditional knowledge for strengthening natural resource management systems. INMIP annual Learning Exchange strengthens critical mass and provides a space for the sharing of traditional knowledge and practices for local food autonomy and climate governance.


Asociación ANDES, Peru

Asociación ANDES is an international indigenous-led organization that works to support indigenous peoples’ struggles for biocultural rights and self-determination, land rights and territorial development, and community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. ANDES’ support takes the form of independent research and analysis; promoting collective action; networking at local, regional and international levels; and fostering new forms of knowledge creation, partnerships and alliance-building.

Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP), China

The Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) was established in December 1995 at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and has been a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) since 2000. CCAP’s works to analyze policies related to natural resource management for the strengthening of sustainable food and agricultural systems and to provide policy suggestions that address the challenges facing China´s agricultural and rural development. CCAP also works on pilot policy research programs that assess and influence policy development and implementation and contribute to sustainable development in China.

Farmers Seed Network (FSN), China

Farmers’ Seed Network (FSN) was established in December 2013 and developed from the pre-existing Farmers Participatory Breeding and Seed-Sharing Network. FSN is a multi-stakeholder, civil society organization that has strengthened partnerships among farmers, scientists, seed enterprises, NGOs, universities, policy researchers and policy makers for the promotion of community based in-situ conservation, agro-biodiversity management and the intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge and culture. FSN works in three primary areas: 1) Farmers’ Seed System Enhancement; 2) Multi-stakeholder Exchange and Networking; and 3) Policy Research and Advocacy. 

Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA), Papua New Guinea

FPDA is a government agency that engages in capacity-building and training for subsistence and small-scale commercial farmers on the process and structure of value-chains for becoming small-medium-entrepreneurs (SME). As part of this development work that links farmers to markets, FDPA collaborates with actors in the value chain such as transport providers and market players such as hotels, catering companies and supermarkets.

Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), Tajikistan

The Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP) was initiated by the Aga Khan Foundation in 2003 with the goal to improve living conditions in select mountain communities in the country. To achieve its goal, MSDSP operates a multi-sector programe which engages in natural resource management, early childhood development (ECD) and community health.

Public Foundation Bio-Muras, Kyrgyzstan

The principal mission of Bio-Muras is to support local communities as they are the custodians of traditional knowledge that work to revitalize and conserve biocultural heritage for the protection of agrobiodiversity in the Kyrgyz Republic. Our organization also conducts training workshops on horticulture and the establishment of fruit nurseries. 

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) – Exchange Programme, Philippines

NTFP is a collaborative network of NGOs working towards the empowerment of forest-dependent communities to strengthen, develop and promote NTFP-based forest management strategies that are sustainable, culturally-appropriate and gender responsive. Our work focuses on: (1) organizing and strengthening forest-dependent communities; (2) capacity building; (3) incorporating indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP) into community-based enterprises; (4) integrating sustainable resource management planning into enterprise operations; (5) developing products and appropriate technologies; (6) identifying appropriate markets; (7) linking community-based enterprises to value chain actors; (8) development of standards and appropriate certification schemes; (9) providing access to finance; and (10) monitoring impacts.


Pgakenyaw Association for Sustainable Development (PASD), Thailand

PASD works with the community of Hin Lad Nai of the Karen people, whose community is situated in an evergreen forest in the north of Thailand. The community of Hin Lad Nai works to protect their rotational farming system as a mainstay of their livelihood. PASD is working to diversify forest products in order to increase local livelihood resilience while maintaining rotational farming as the foundation of their traditional practices. Community members are also conducting community-based research in order to generate local evidence that can contribute to achieving recognition and acceptance by the government.


Research Center of Humanistic Innovation and Social Engagement (ReCHISE), Taiwan

Established in October 2016,  ReCHISE is a research center at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Taipei Medical University. Our mission is to study, design and implement innovative practices of universities´ social engagement in the real world. Our first large-scale project between 2016 and 2018 is titled “An Innovative Alliance for Active Aging Based on Care.” Through this project, we work with three different communities in Taiwan, including urban, suburban, and indigenous communities, to study the structural problems prohibiting people to age actively and locally and to find innovative solutions with the empowerment of the local people. Our goal is to develop a model of care that covers people’s medical, ecological, social, and cultural aspects of life. 

The Potato Park, Peru

The Potato Park in Pisac, Cusco, Peru, is recognized on a global level as a successful and mature model of landscape conservation, climate change adaption, and the sustainable use of biological resources. The Potato Park is a center of origin of the potato, which has for centuries been a focal point of the Andean food system. This genetic diversity has been maintained through the practice of the Andean cosmovision or “ayllu” that promotes an integrated, holistic model of co-living between physical, biotic, and cultural elements. The Quechua communities of the Potato Park apply an alternative development approach that is based on local business models that enhance the sustainable use of local resources and successfully integrate both ancestral knowledge and modern innovations as a strategy to secure the resilience and productivity of agro-mountain systems.

University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea

The University of Goroka is located in Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. The Highlands’ sense of tradition and culture is part of life in Goroka, as well as at the University. Students and staff from all over PNG and other nations are encouraged to maintain and share their own traditional cultures whilst at UoG. The University of Goroka is one of the fastest growing learning institutions in PNG and the South Pacific, and is committed to offering the very best in high quality tertiary education to students in all areas of study.

A promotion of the uniqueness of Papua New Guinea and South Pacific cultural heritage will be pursued through the content of the courses in such areas as the Arts, Languages, Beliefs, Commerce and Natural Environment. UoG believes in sustaining and promoting diverse Pacific cultural heritage.

Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya

The Kenya Forestry Research Institute is a state corporation established in 1986, under the Science and Technology Act (Cap 250), now the Science, Technology and Innovation Act No. 28 of 2013. The Institute is under the Environmental Protection, Water and Natural Resources Sector, and undertakes research to generate and promote improved technologies for sustainable management, conservation and development of forests and allied natural resources.

The mandate of KEFRI is to undertake research in forestry and allied natural resources disseminate research findings; and establish partnerships and cooperate with other research organizations and institutions of higher learning in joint research and training. The institute conducts research and development activities under five thematic areas namely: Forest productivity and Improvement; Biodiversity and Environment Management; Forest Products Development; Social-economics, Policy and Governance and Technical Support Services.

The Institute’s research is tailor-made to address the unique needs of the various Eco-regions in Kenya hence it has 5 regional research programmes. These include; Central Highlands Eco-region Research Programme, Rift-Valley Eco-region Research Programme, Drylands Eco-region Research Programme, Lake Basin Eco-region Research Programme and Coast Eco-region Research Programme. The Eco-region research programmes have head offices in Muguga, Londiani, Kitui, Maseno and Gede respectively. The Institute also has one national Forest Product Research Centre located in Karura.


Horizontal Learning Exchanges 

Horizontal Learning Exchanges use a participatory and transdisciplinary format for knowledge and information exchange that aim to generate cross-fertilization between knowledge management systems. It uses the methodology of: (1). Public Forums with the objective of generating debate on themes key to the mountain network and promoting visibility for the generation of new knowledge and (2). Experiential Knowledge Exchanges and Workshops that are carried out in a field-based format where the natural and human-engineered landscape is utilized to identify, assess, and implement innovative applications for natural resource management.

The model of Horizontal Learning Exchanges is rooted in the ¨Theory of Change,¨ where the processes of discovery and cooperative learning generate effective innovation that support indigenous mountain communities in adapting to climate change. It is an approach to facilitate the process of capacity-building at different scales (community, local, national and global authorities) and permits the vertical (scaling-up) and horizontal (scaling-out) replication to other realities and contexts. This ¨Theory of Change¨ underlies the exchange of knowledge and experiences as well as the generation of new knowledge and evidence to achieve local to global objectives.

The First International Learning Exchange INMIP was held in May 2014 in Bhutan where representatives from 25 indigenous mountain communities from 10 countries met to discuss the impacts of climate change and to exchange knowledge for adaptation. The Bhutan workshop gathered more than 70 farmers who established the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples. With dedication to protecting biocultural heritage for climate resilience, participating farmers developed the Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples, a document that provides the vision for the network.

The Second International Learning Exchange was held the following year in September 2015 in Tajikistan, a highly mountainous country and centre of origin and diversity of several food crops. It brought together over 50 participants, representing 21 mountain communities from the 10 countries. Participants of the seven-day workshop documented climate change impacts since the Bhutan workshop, using the same assessment framework, exchanged techniques and tools for enhancing resilience, and agreed to establish international networks of Biocultural Heritage Territories and Community Seed Banks as collective responses for adaptation. The Tajikistan exchange consolidated INMIP as an institution for climate change innovation adaptation.

The Third International Learning Exchange took place in the Stone Village, Yunnan, China. China is a center of origin for Japanese millet, rice, buckwheat and soybean. The Stone Village is rich in crop diversity, including maize, buckwheat, soybean and wild relatives, and the ancient capital of the Naxi people. Settled in the Jinsha River Valley, 126 km northwest of Lijiang City at an altitude of 1720 meters, the Stone Village has over 1300 years of ancestral mountain farming history.

This year the Fourth International Learning Exchange was held in the Potato Park communities, Pisac, Peru with 34 representatives participating from 10 indigenous mountain countries in addition to local representatives from the Potato Park, Lares and Apurimac communities of Peru. The gathering was truly unique in its ability to bring together INMIP members from around the globe in support of climate change adaptation and the scaling up of effective innovations that enhance biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and cultural resilience. We look forward to sharing the video documentary that is being produced from the Potato Park footage and that will capture the methods, tools and procedures of the workshop.

Walking Workshop Inauguration at the Archaeological Ruins, Pisaq

Tools of our Approach-

1.) Walking Workshop-

Horizontal Learning Exchanges use the Walking Workshop approach as its principal methodology for amplifying creativity and inspiration between participants and promoting idea creation, knowledge exchange and the formulation of strategic alliances. The Walking Workshop methodology involves the transfer of knowledge and/or skills through horizontal learning and collective action in an atypical conference style and field-based format. The open-air workshop site encourages experiential and participatory learning using the surrounding ecosystem features as an alternate venue space for field-practitioners. More generally, biocultural exchanges promote cross-fertilization between knowledge systems and are an important tool for generating evidence for policy advocacy on climate change impacts.

The Walking Workshop methodology has traditionally been applied as an indigenous form of transecting that uses surrounding landscape elements to identify risk and uncertainty to ecosystem resilience and to propose possible alternatives to the identified challenges. The exchange approach is a process in continuous development that is built on the sharing of knowledge and practices and that can be adapted to diverse social and environmental fabrics.

ANDES has further developed the Walking Workshop format as a means to fuel creativity and innovation and to generate new knowledge that strengthens adaptive capacity to local-global challenges. It opens a space for sharing interests, needs and challenges of each community and to find commons themes and challenges (glacier melt, water management systems, transmission of traditional knowledge, extractive industry, and out-migration).

2.) Biocultural Festival- 

Biocultural Festivals are an important tool of Horizontal Learning Exchanges for the sharing of traditional cultural expressions of dance, music, poetry as well as diverse food dishes and traditional methods of food preparation from across mountain cultures. Country teams are encouraged in the days before traveling to the workshop site to pre-plan their dishes and to bring traditional food ingredients from their home-countries including spices, dried fruit, and typical staple foods.  In past exchanges, culinary contributions have included traditional buckwheat noodles from Bhutan, ground cassava from Kenya, sago (starch from a palm tree that grows in swamps) from Papua New Guinea, osh from Tajikistan and sweet coffee from Taiwam.

Biocultural Festival, Community of Chahuytire, Potato Park


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Biocultural Heritage Landscape and Territories

Biocultural heritage includes the traditional knowledge, biodiversity, landscapes, cultural and spiritual values and customary laws of indigenous peoples and local communities, which are all inter-connected and interdependent. The vision for Biocultural Heritage Territories is captured in the following definition: ‘Land use mosaics encompassing indigenous and traditional land tenure, production and exchange systems, cultural identity, community organisation and simultaneous goals of endogenous development and biodiversity conservation.’

There are already a number of biocultural heritage territories in the INMIP network – the Potato Park Peru; Stone Village in China, which is establishing a Seed Park; the Jafr community, which has established a Food Park; the Hin-lad-nai community in Thailand, which has established a Cultural Zone; and the Philippines community, which has an ancestral domain title. Biocultural heritage territories such as these are fully owned and managed by indigenous communities – the conservation models are endogenous and belong to their culture. In this way, the INMIP network already has knowledge of how to establish and manage such territories. Recognition of the network at international level, for example by the FAO Treaty, could promote recognition of biocultural territories by national governments.

The vision for BCHTs has grown from the experience of the Potato Park in Peru. Mariano, a farmer from the Potato Park, explained that the Potato Park has three main components: food and livelihoods, agrobiodiversity conservation, and land rights. There are six communities in the Potato Park, and the community presidents have formed a legally recognized association. There is a management group that meets every two months to evaluate progress and to make decisions on next steps. The Potato Park also contains areas of experimentation and innovation for climate adaptation. Their revenues from eco-tourism are growing. The microenterprise groups bring the different communities together to share knowledge, and income is invested in a communal fund. All the rules for the Potato Park are based on customary laws, and has a collective land title, and rights to all natural resources above the soil. The concept of the Potato Park reflects the holistic worldview of the Quechua peoples in the Andes, as well as of other communities.

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Traditional Knowledge Management Systems

The Role of Traditional Knowledge and Biocultural Heritage in Adaptation

Traditional knowledge provides empirical, place-based evidence that can complement and add clarity to scientific assessments, research, decision-making and reporting processes. Such a multiple evidence-based approach is already encouraged by the Convention on Biological Diversity in its monitoring of the Aichi Targets, and the Inter-governmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the biodiversity equivalent to the IPCC, is developing procedures for working with indigenous and local knowledge. 

Mountain communities sustain traditional knowledge systems, genetic diversity and ecosystem services that are important for adaptation. The IPCC’s 5th report recognizes that “indigenous, local and traditional knowledge systems and practices, including indigenous peoples’ cosmology, are a key resource for effective adaptation”. [1] The UNFCCC COP21 Paris Agreement recognizes the role of traditional knowledge in developing effective adaptation responses: “Parties acknowledge that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems”. [2]

Despite the resilience demonstrated by traditional resource management systems, indigenous peoples tend to be removed from research, policymaking and planning processes for climate change adaptation. The absence of local participation and bottom-up planning processes presents the risk that climate change adaptation policies will be misaligned with local needs, environments and micro-politics and result in inappropriate decision-making.

The characteristics of mountain agro-ecosystems require place-based adaptation approaches that integrate mountain-specific strategies, research and knowledge, use participatory techniques and link traditional knowledge and science. INMIP seeks to address these challenges through knowledge exchange and walking workshops that provide place-based evidence to inform decision making, while strengthening the adaptive capacity of mountain communities and spreading effective tools. International network building is an important tool to enable mountain communities to sustain traditional knowledge systems that support genetic diversity and ecological resilience.

[1] UNFCCC (2015). Adoption of the Paris Agreement. Conference of the Parties, Twenty-first session, Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015.

[2] IPCC (2014) Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group II “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Part A Global and Sectoral Aspects”, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Cultural and Spiritual Values

The cultural and spiritual values of indigenous peoples are critical to developing appropriate strategies to climate change adaptation in agriculture. The cultural and spiritual practices of indigenous mountain peoples’ have developed out of a deep respect for the natural world and the relationships between human and natural environments. These traditions have enabled indigenous peoples to inhabit harsh, mountain environments as well as to adapt to climatic changes over the centuries. Responses to climate challenges that are consistent with indigenous peoples’ worldviews are proven to be more effective in attaining food sovereignty and endogenous development goals, and serve as a means of strengthening community capacity. For indigenous peoples, responses to climate change require a renewed respect for nature, landscapes and food systems and the societies that sustain them.

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Crop Diversity

Despite the high levels of insecurity, mountain environments host a diverse array of food crops and crop diversity, which continue to evolve under local farming systems. High levels of genetic diversity is important for food security and for adaptation in heterogeneous mountain environments, and also provides future options for adaptation. Mountain communities sustain processes of evolution and co-evolution for a diversity of crops, providing a source of resilient crops for adaptation locally and more widely.

At the Second International Learning Exchange in Tajikistan in 2015, participating communities identified the importance of planting different crop varieties together to reduce risk, and of using local crop varieties because they are already adapted, e.g. to drought and pests. During the biocultural exchange, it was shared that in Tajikistan, local fruit trees in Jafr can survive the increasingly hot and dry conditions whereas introduced varieties cannot, so farmers are planting local varieties and grafting introduced varieties onto them to produce fruit for the market. In Tuggoz, Tajikistan which is located in a center of wheat diversity, farmers have found that local wheat varieties produce higher yields than introduced modern varieties. In both communities, organic fertilizers have proved better for soil fertility and structure than costly inorganic fertilizers. See Tajikistan Event Report, page 6 for additional information.

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Traditional Water Management Systems

Climate Change and Water Resources

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that climate change will affect mountain water storage and delivery infrastructure around the world with highly significant consequences for downstream economies. Half the world´s population relies on mountains for their water, yet mountain communities are already suffering from heightened physical instability caused by melting glaciers and water shortages, which could further enhance already high levels of food insecurity in mountain areas.

At the same time, mountains are home to traditional water management systems that have evolved as livelihood strategies and that are based on local, indigenous knowledge and technologies. Community-managed water systems aim at optimizing water resource use and, with the current vulnerability to climate change impacts, there is a particular emphasis on adaptation and mitigation strategies.

 A Closer Look into Traditional Water Management Practices in Stone Village, China

The Third Horizontal Learning Exchange was held in the ancient Naxi capital of Stone Village, China in May 2016 where more than 50 indigenous peoples and traditional farmers representing 18 mountain communities from China, Nepal, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Peru gathered to assess the effectiveness of biocultural heritage-based approaches for climate adaptation and to share key methods and tools for adaptation.

During the international conference, mountain communities called for support to strengthen traditional natural resource management systems, especially that of water management. The Stone Village Declaration highlights the importance of incorporating both traditional and modern water management practices to produce effective, low-cost solutions to detrimental climate change impacts as alternatives to energy-intensive modern technologies. 

The traditional water management system has evolved over more than 1000 years of history and is as old as the village itself. According to village leaders, the Stone Village was hit by drought nine years out of the last ten; however, the efficiency of the water management system – through terraces and irrigation – has prevented true water scarcity. Neighboring villages without customary water management systems have been worse affected. The water management system provides water for drinking, irrigation and fire control and uses gravity to transport water and ancient water channels for irrigation, which were lined with cement in the 1990s to make the water travel faster from the water source in the mountain.

The Stone Village ancient water management system provides water for drinking, irrigation and fire control to 14 villages in the watershed. Customary laws ensure fair water allocation to all households, both day and night, depending on their location in the valley. This system has prevented water scarcity and conflict despite recurring drought in the region for nine years out of the last ten, whereas neighboring villages without such a system have been more affected by drought. The Stone Village water system is overseen by a water management committee and integrates related cultural rituals.

During the Learning Exchange, several other participating communities reported water shortages and shrinking glaciers in recent years as well as presented on similar traditional water management systems, providing further evidence of their importance for coping with water shortages and preventing conflicts and for climate adaptation locally and more widely.

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Community Seed Banks

Seed saving is a traditional practice of smallholder farmers that allows them to cultivate a large number of local varieties, which have adapted to different environmental conditions and changes, including water shortages, strong winds and limited soil nutrients. Although seeds can be saved at the global level, such as in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, this may not be enough to ensure diversity at local level.

In this regard, Community Seed Banks (CSBs) are important for conserving crop diversity in the field, for ensuring access to seeds for food security and climate adaptation, and for enabling recovery after extreme events. Establishing CSBs helps farmers to acquire varieties that are adapted to local conditions, varieties that may not be accessible through formal seed systems, may be costly or may suffer from erratic supplies after natural and man-made disasters.

CSBs help to preserve seeds of adapted varieties either local varieties or new ones coming from breeding programs. Seed diversity can be enhanced and additional income generated when seeds are exchanged and sold to neighboring communities. Diversification of crops and varieties is also highly important in terms of people’s food security, because it reduces the risk of total production failures and contributes to strengthening community resilience.

Community seed registers are an important addition to community seed banks in that they can help prevent exploitation through intellectual property rights such as patents. 

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Seed Exchange

Seed exchange is a traditional practice in indigenous communities which opens a space for accessing new crop varieties that allow for adaptation and enhancing crop diversity. The practice of seed exchange has enabled the diversity of crops and seeds to spread over large distances and even across continents. For example, the highest diversity of sweet potato is found in Papua New Guinea even though it originates from the Andes.

Seed Exchanges are an important part of Horizontal Learning Exchanges. At the workshops in Bhutan and Tajikistan, seeds were exchanged between communities. It was discovered that in Papua New Guinea, maize from China grows much better than local maize, but pumpkin from China proved susceptible to pests. In China, rice from Bhutan did not perform well at the lower altitude and more tropical climate. In Tuggoz, Tajikistan, a farmer has planted buckwheat from Papua New Guinea and maize from Jangbi in his kitchen garden. In Jafr, Tajikistan, potatoes obtained from the Potato Park, Peru during a learning exchange five years earlier have been adapted successfully after five years of selection, but maize from the Potato Park suffered from disease and did not grow well in Jafr.

Participating members of the mountain network are working to document and share the conditions in each community that has shared seeds: the altitude, whether it is tropical or not, temperature, rainfall and frost conditions.Participants also emphasized the need to ensure that the seeds exchanged are germ-free by working with relevant practitioners and experts, and that seed exchange is done legally. The FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (FAO Treaty) has created a Multilateral System which can in theory be used by communities as well as countries and gene banks for this purpose. This would also facilitate the recognition of farmers’ knowledge of and rights to seeds. Most of the countries in the network are parties to the FAO Treaty, except China, Taiwan and Tajikistan. Thailand has signed but is not a party.

Seed Exchanges continued in both the Stone Village (2016) and the Potato Park (2017) Learning Exchange with the active participation of the mountain communities.

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Participatory Plant Breeding

Mountain environments are facing not only increasing temperatures with climate change but also disruptions to their hydrological cycles resulting in more erratic rainfall that will intensify the already critical state of water scarcity and conflicts over water allocation. The rural poor in indigenous mountain communities will suffer the most from these changes and will necessitate a range of coping strategies to help them adapt to changing climates.

Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) is being practiced by indigenous mountain communities as an adaptation tool for protection against climate change impacts. PPB is a joint innovation process that involves farmers and scientists in breeding new crop varieties that have improved productivity and resilience and that are tailored to local climatic conditions. Drought and heat tolerant varieties are developed through plant breeding, contributing to food sovereignty and the conservation of agrobiodiversity.

During the Stone Village Learning Exchange in 2016, community representatives from China and Peru working in PPB reported that PPB varieties perform much better in mountain environments than uniform hybrid seeds and that PPB varieties are much more productive than hybrid seeds, as hybrid seeds are uniform and are viable only in irrigated, flat land, and not for the complexity of mountain ecosystems. See Stone Village Event Report, pages 5, 6 for additional information.

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Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Maintaining genetic diversity offers multiple benefits that contribute to the regulation of ecosystem services. Ecosystem functioning delivers a range of services that benefit human livelihoods including the provision of breathable air, potable water, fertile soils, productive lands and ocean seas. Biodiversity enhances ecosystem services in the biological sense through the provisioning of genetic resources and at the livelihood security level through risk mitigation and ensuring the resilience of agriculture in the face of growing demands for food production. Declines in biodiversity forebode major implications for future scenarios threatening crop pollination, nutrient cycling, and the filtration of pollutants.

Cultural services that include recreational and aesthetic values for knowledge and educational gain are also at risk of declining. Within the Andes, biodiversity features are valuable for their cultural importance, existing as living representations of the blend between ancient cosmology and contemporary lifestyle choices. The potato, for example, is an Andean biocultural expression that is used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. The transmission and conservation of traditional knowledge related to cultural services is a livelihood strategy that minimizes risk and enhances productive systems and outputs. Protection of the biodiversity-ecosystem linkage becomes more critical as climate change places further stress on biodiversity resources.