Native Breeds as Providers of Ecosystem Services: The Stakeholders’ Perspective
The concept of ecosystem services (ES) has become a keyword in biodiversity conservation and policies but, until now, it has rarely been applied in the context of farm genetic resources. Intensification of agriculture with internationally marketed breeds has led to remarkable loss in animal genetic resources (AnGR). There is a need for sustainable and feasible policies to conserve and utilise the AnGR, which requires knowledge on how they are valued by different stakeholders. We apply the framework of ES as a communication tool to explore how different stakeholders perceive the AnGR, their values and benefits. The research is based on interviews of stakeholders active on different levels of conservation. Our results highlight the broad diversity of perceptions of the stakeholders interviewed. The AnGR are linked to all categories of ES and viewed much broader than could have been anticipated based on existing research literature. This can be seen as a strength concerning the ES policies since considering AnGR not only as a provisioning services gives an opportunity to bring them out of the ‘margins’ where they have still tended to belong. The research also confirmed the applicability of the ES framework as a communication tool for AnGR. We argue that the ES approach, which integrates both ecological and cultural aspects of conservation, can be seen as a great opportunity for conservation and sustainable use of AnGR, as AnGR are, on the one hand, results from the co-evolution of human and nature and, on the other hand, dependent on cultural values and practices.