* Chinese fish and rice farming reduces pests
* Aboriginal fire controls in Australia get carbon market
OSLO Dec 9 Ancient farming practices, such as
raising fish in rice paddies in China or Aboriginal Australian
fire controls, will get a new lease of life under plans to slow
extinctions of animals and plants, experts said on Monday.
Turning to traditional farming is seen as a way of limiting
what U.N. studies say is the worst spate of extinctions since
the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, driven by a rising
human population that is wrecking natural habitats.
A 115-nation group seeking to protect the diversity of
wildlife, which underpins everything from food supplies to
medicines, will look at ways to revive and promote indigenous
peoples' practices at talks in Turkey from Dec. 9-14.
"Indigenous and local knowledge ... has played a key role in
arresting biodiversity loss and conserving biodiversity," Zakri
Abdul Hamid, founding chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), told Reuters.
The idea is partly to compare traditional farming around the
world and see if the practices can be used in other nations.
Among ideas, raising fish in the waters of rice paddies, a
practice used in south China for 1,200 years and in some other
Asian nations, can reduce pests. Most modern rice paddies are
not used to raise fish.
Farming the two together "reduces by 68 percent the need for
pesticides and by 24 percent the need for chemical fertilizer
compared with monocultures", an IPBES report said. Pesticides
often kill many more species than those targeted.
And in countries including Australia, Indonesia, Japan and
Venezuela, traditional burning of small patches of countryside
can create a mosaic of firebreaks that prevents the spread of
devastating blazes in the dry season, it said.
Small fires mean that wildlife can get out of harm's way
more easily than in a big fire, reducing risks of extinctions.
In Australia, such protection generates carbon credits for
Aborigines by slowing deforestation - a source of up to a fifth
of man-made greenhouse gases blamed for causing global warming.
In June, Australia's Indigenous Land Corporation said it
sold 25,000 tonnes of carbon credits for savannah burning, the
first such open market sale, to Chevron for more than
$A20 ($18.20) a tonne.
Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide, the main
greenhouse gas from human activities, from the air as they grow
and release it when they burn or rot.
Sam Johnston, an Australian expert at the U.N. University's
Institute for Advanced Studies, said carbon markets might be
used elsewhere. "We've found almost identical conditions in
parts of Africa and Latin America," he told Reuters.
Other examples of traditional knowledge include pits dug on
Tanzanian hillsides to collect rainfall in the rainy season to
limit erosion, or weather observations by Inuit people in the
Arctic to complement satellite data about melting ice.
And many Pacific island communities safeguard fish stocks
around coral reefs, for instance by declaring some areas sacred
sites that are then off limits to fishing.
Anne Larigauderie, incoming executive secretary of IPBES,
said indigenous peoples often felt ignored by government
planners. "There is a great need for recognition and acceptance
of their knowledge," she said.
Other efforts to slow extinctions include creating more
protected areas and enforcing laws on wildlife protection.
($1 = 1.0991 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Alistair Lyon)