Lee Gross of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics recently presented a poster at the Ecological Society of America’s Millennium Conference on “Water-Ecosystem Services, Drought and Environmental Justice” in Athens, Georgia. Results from a year-long study, supported by the Conservation and Research Foundation, were presented on the relationship between ecosystem services conservation and farmer livelihoods in the Pico Duarte coffee region of the Dominican Republic. Community partners included Finca Alta Gracia, IDIAF (a Dominican agroforestry research institute), and the 160 member Association of Coffee Producers in Jarabacoa (ASCAJA). Baseline information on livelihoods, farm biodiversity and agroecological management was collected through household surveys, community focus groups and farm biodiversity transects from 43 households in 7 communities. Preliminary findings suggest that smallholder farms under shade and organic management yielded significant levels of native tree and fruit species biodiversity compared to that of larger producers. Integrated strategies to support smallholder farmers who practice ecosystem service conservation (e.g., provision of fresh water, biodiversity protection, and carbon sequestration) are being evaluated. For more detailed information on this project see the Eco-Index.

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