Our entire existence is directly or indirectly dependent on wild or domesticated biodiversity. In addition to our food, the bulk of what we build with, make medicines from and use as industrial raw materials comes from biological resources, while many forms of tourism revolve around nature. Nature and biodiversity therefore are of enormous economic and social value. At least 40% of the global economy and 80% of the needs of the poorest people on our planet depend on natural resources. Even so, biodiversity on our planet is under great pressure. The number of insects in Europe seems to be decreasing dramatically, as is the number of birds. Meanwhile, the logging, food and animal-feed industries are threatening tropical forests. According to some biologists, humans are responsible for the sixth wave of extinction that we find now ourselves in.
The basic principle of our research at Wageningen University & Research is that nature is not a resource but a partner that governs the things that support our life on earth. Following this principle, we work on innovations that make the recovery and management of biodiversity possible, which will result in robust ecosystems and agriculture systems that are resilient to climate change as well as pollution and will continue to deliver essential services and goods in the future. In order to do so, we must understand the dynamics of the resilience of ecosystems. We collaborate with social partners in order to ensure that the restoration of ecosystems is an ‘investment’ for the future.
Biodiversity is essential for agriculture, in effect a conditio sine qua non. Healthy soil life and therefore the cultivation of a wide variety of plants would not be possible without pollinating insects. We are therefore aiming to achieve a method of agriculture that is based on a resilient agricultural system and ecosystem. The concept of ‘nature-inclusive agriculture’ makes optimal use of the natural environment, otherwise known as natural capital, and integrates it into business operations.
Our ambition is to leave behind a world for our children that is both liveable and produces enough food for ten billion people. Without sufficient biodiversity and genetic diversity, the earth will become uninhabitable. As Wageningen, we recognise that we have a major part to play. In light of this, we continue to search for innovative solutions to restore and preserve biodiversity while renewing and improving genetic diversity.