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Wild foods and biodiversity: Good practices, challenges, recommendations

Wild foods and biodiversity were the focus of the third in the webinar series organized by the SIANI Expert Group on Wild Foods, Biodiversity and Livelihood. The discussion series is part of the group’s efforts to consolidate traditional and ecological knowledge on wild foods and build a network of multi-stakeholder actors working on the area of wild foods, forests and inclusive conservation.

On August 18, 2020, Dr. Denise Matias, a research scientist at the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE) in Frankfurt, NTFP-EP Research Associate, and a member of the Expert Group Steering Committee, led the expert group dialogue on wild foods and biodiversity, which you can follow up with this video.

She began with a presentation about the importance and contribution of wild foods to biodiversity, pointing out the irony that despite the great biodiversity of the species we can eat, less than 200 varieties are consumed for food. In the face of increasing pressure on natural habitats of wild food species, it seems that the future of food is under severe threat.

Dr. Matias talked about challenges to wild foods at the global and local levels. For instance, data on wild food species is hard to find, the data on nutrition and conservation status is particularly challenging to access. There is a decline in local ecological knowledge about wild foods as most young people migrate to cities, leaving behind their ancestral domains and lands. There is a need to revive the interest and engagement of youth in the traditions and knowledge of wild food. Finally, Dr. Matias mentioned challenges in relation to diseases, such as COVID-19, which swayed some conservationists and governments to propose bans on wildlife consumption.

Teddy Baguilat Jr. (President of the Global ICCA Consortium) and Claudia Binondo, (Expert Group Dialogue Partner from the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity), were invited to provide insights and reflections on the sustainable use of wild foods and the contribution of such foods to biodiversity in the context of the pandemic. Both expressed the need for further reflection on wildlife bans and for quick actions given the global rate of biodiversity loss, deforestation and forest degradation. After the plenary session participants continued the discussion around models and good practices, challenges and recommendations in breakouts.

Outputs from the discussion series will be used to inform and build a concept for a regional policy dialogue that is envisioned to target policy makers in South and Southeast Asia.

Read the transcript of the discussions.

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