The King’s Village Declaration on Organic Agriculture, Biodiversity and Business

The Netherlands - November 2009

By endorsing the King’s Village declaration, 98 participants, representing 28 nationalities, of the Avalon International Conference on Organic Agriculture, Biodiversity and Business, held on September 30 - October 1, 2009 at King’s Village, Sophia, Bulgaria, would like to urge farmers, the business community, consumers and policy makers to act responsibly and to support the further adoption of organic farming.

Organic Agriculture & Protection of Biodiversity

Organic farming can make a substantial contribution in enriching our biodiversity and protecting it from further degradation. This is because careful management, enhancing biodiversity and stimulating the biological processes of the farm ecosystem, is central to all organic farming concepts and practices. Numerous studies indicate that, in general, organic farming is more beneficial to biodiversity than non-organic management, notably intensive conventional agriculture. Organically farmed areas usually have a much higher abundance and diversity of micro-organisms, plants and animals.

Increased Knowledge and Quality Through Education and Research

Like organic methods, some traditional farming methods, notably those practised on marginal land (mostly upland grasslands) can also be very beneficial for biodiversity. In many marginal regions traditional farming is the only biodiversity-friendly alternative to land abandonment. Traditional high-nature-value farming methods are usually practised by small-scale, (semi-)subsistence farmers. In most cases their farming practices fully comply with the principles of organic farming. However, since their production is not predominantly market-oriented, and although in most cases fulfilling organic criteria, it is not certified as organic. Further research on harmonization and areas of divergence between organic and high-natural-value farming would be welcome.

Organic Food & Farming – Successful Through Combined Effort

Organic farming provides an ample opportunity for biodiversity-friendly businesses. Organic farming both protects and benefits from biodiversity. Organic food and farming is a growing sector. Besides a number of small and medium sized businesses, several large international companies have already recognised the opportunity for agriculture-based biodiversity-friendly businesses, and their success paves the way for others.

By adopting organic farming in the chain (production, processing and trade), farmers and other businesses are helping to enhance biodiversity. By buying organic food and eating where organic food is served, consumers can also help to protect biodiversity. Together with organic farmers and other relevant parties (e.g. nature protection organisations), they can be a powerful driving force for the further development of organic farming.

Achieving Responsible Legislation

A great deal of responsibility for the development of organic farming and biodiversity-friendly business rests on policy makers. They can change legislation which is detrimental to biodiversity and organic farmers, among which many are small-scale farmers. Notably the existing seed laws favouring industrial businesses and the use of just a few high-yielding varieties should be changed. In order to catalyse the further development of the organic food and farming sector, policy makers should put into place a set of regulatory, economic and informative policy instruments favouring the development of organic farming and discouraging biodiversity-damaging businesses.

Creating a dialogue

Avalon and its network partners will actively lobby for the recognition of the role that organic farming plays in protecting biodiversity, and invite responsible farmers, consumers and policy makers to support and enable the further adoption and development of organic farming, to help in solving one of the most challenging problems of humankind: loss of biodiversity.

Interested in follow up?

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