Our Views on

Conservation and Restoration of Biodiversity in Agriculture and Forestry

At a Glance

  • Key threats to biodiversity include land use change including the loss, degradation and fragmentation of cropland habitats; deforestation; urbanization; invasive alien species and a lack of knowledge and awareness of biodiversity broadly.

  • Bayer is committed to conserving and restoring biodiversity within and beyond agricultural fields through our technologies and services. In addition to our current approaches and business models, we need to find creative ways and new partnerships to better address the nexus between climate change and nature degradation and the need to improve food security.

  • Our actions are based on principles which are reflected in our biodiversity strategy:
  1. Developing innovative sustainable solutions 
  2. Supporting farmers & landowners 
  3. Advancing the science in balancing food production while enhancing biodiversity 
  4. Helping to protect forests & promoting sustainable vegetation management 
  5. Helping to mitigate climate change
  • We intend to support farmers further integrate crop production and biodiversity conservation while making cropping systems more resilient to climate change over scale and time by building synergies and protecting forests and other natural habitats.

Background

Biodiversity is under threat. According to the latest IPBES1 report on biodiversity and ecosystem services, more than 1 million species face extinction, driven by human activity. In agriculture, the most important drivers for the loss of biodiversity are land use change, climate change, crop management practices and pollution2.

Agriculture relies on biodiversity: many species create and maintain important ecosystem services like healthy soils, pollination or pest control and are thus essential for food, feed and fibre production. Maintaining a diverse range of species allows agricultural systems to be more resilient to stresses, including those caused by climate change. At the same time, the very purpose of agriculture is to provide a safe and secure food supply for humans, which entails the sensible use of measures to protect those crops from organisms that could compromise the harvest. Obtaining the optimal balance is our goal.

Our View

The diversity of ecosystems, species and crop varieties is inherently valuable and needs to be protected.

We acknowledge that farming, like many other activities, has an impact on biodiversity. To meet the social, environmental and economic needs of a population that is growing in numbers and wealth, we need to further optimise agricultural production systems. We can build on existing technologies and solutions, which have already significantly reduced the impact on the environment, mainly through tremendous increases in productivity and efficiency. We believe that only through diversity in farming systems can we equally conserve biodiversity and provide important other needs.
We are committed to conserving and restoring biodiversity within and beyond agricultural fields through our technologies and services. We follow the United Nations’ “Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)” and are also committed to its objectives, including the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

It is our priority to facilitate the adoption of biodiversity conservation measures by farmers and landowners as an integral part of good agricultural practices. Therefore, we will invest in the development of innovative tools and services that improve farming and land management practices while balancing production and conservation objectives. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Acknowledging the global diversity of cropping systems, regulatory requirements and societal expectation, we will collaborate with local experts and associations to develop tailored tools that can address the challenges of each field.

What we will do:

Innovative sustainable solutions
We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of crop protection by 30 % within our area of influence by investing more than anybody else in this industry to:

  • Develop a new generation of crop protection solutions with improved properties in terms of biodegradability and selectivity that can replace older, less environmentally friendly chemicals. 
  • Push and advance the use of integrated crop management and precision application technology, allowing farmers to use crop protection products in a more targeted way, applying them only when and where needed. 
  • Create innovative new biotech crops, new formulation technologies and seed coatings that lead to significantly reduced application volumes. 

Additionally, our innovations in breeding and digital farming will increase the nitrogen use efficiency of crops, which reduces nitrate run-off and leaching- one major cause of eutrophication and acidification. By leveraging our global scale, we contribute to a broad adoption of these modern, more sustainable solutions.

Supporting farmers & landowners

  • We will provide continuous, collaborative support to farmers, co-designing sustainable farming practices, stewardship activities and training programs such as BayGAP or Better Life Farming for smallholder farmers. 
  • We will enable farmers and landowners to participate in initiatives that improve local biodiversity by supporting them in creating natural or semi-natural habitats within and beyond their cropped fields, as part of broader landscape planning, to conserve associated biodiversity and endangered species. We already provide access to relevant advice, incentives or networks to increase attractiveness for farmers to participate in those programs. 
  • Additional work and data are needed to identify strong synergies between biodiversity-enabling measures and farmer engagement. However, we strongly believe that conserving and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services is a value that farmers can generate for society. 
  • It is our long-term ambition to identify the best incentivizing models for farmer engagement & biodiversity friendly practices. We will strive to reduce agriculture-related biodiversity loss while bringing commercial value to farmers and landowners who join our efforts in protecting biodiversity.

Advance the science in balancing food production while enhancing biodiversity

  • We will continue our scientific research to better understand the root causes of insect decline and to develop adequate countermeasures that are practical for farmers to implement and which can have benefits for both biodiversity and farming. Our research collaborations on pollinator management already show promising results. 
  • We advocate for science-based policies and innovations that achieve a balanced outcome.

Helping to protect forests and promoting sustainable vegetation management

  • In cooperation with farmers and external partners, we will engage in programs focused on reforestation and avoiding deforestation. 
  • We will provide landowners with solutions to control invasive alien species through vegetation management activities that support the re-settlement of native species and the restoration of diversified habitats. 
  • We aim for net-zero deforestation in our supply chain by 2021 – and will encourage our licensees to do the same.

Helping to mitigate climate change

  • We also recognize climate change as an impacting factor on biodiversity, which requires further research and deeper understanding. As a company, we have a clear goal to reduce field greenhouse gas emissions in the most emitting cropping systems that Bayer serves by 30% by 2030. In addition, we will reduce the carbon footprint of our own operations (achieving carbon neutrality by 2030). 
  • We will strengthen the synergies between biodiversity and climate change mitigation. Soil health and soil biodiversity play a key role in this context as soil health and biodiversity enhancing measures such as cover crops, crop rotations or field margin habitats can lead to significant soil carbon sequestration. Soils rich in organic matter increase farmers’ resilience towards negative effects of climate change (droughts, erosive precipitation).We will work to find creative ways to revise business models and establish new partnerships to better address the nexus between climate change and the degradation of nature while ensuring the necessary improvement in food security.

1

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

2

FAO 2019, IPBES 2019