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Nature's Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty

By: Ivette Perfecto, John Vandermeer and Angus Wright

224 pages, index, illustrations


Paperback | Sep 2009 | #179694 | ISBN-13: 9781844077823
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £28.99 $38/€32 approx
Hardback | Sep 2009 | #179693 | ISBN-13: 9781844077816
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £105.00 $138/€117 approx

About this book

The subject of "Nature's Matrix" is conservation of biodiversity but it differs from other books by proposing a radically new approach based on recent advances in the science of ecology plus certain political realities.

The analysis is based on the linking of three key political issues that are intimately related, yet often treated in isolation. The first is the crisis of biodiversity loss, universally acknowledged as a major contemporary problem. The second has to do with food and agriculture, a crisis issue for the past two decades. The third is the political unrest in rural areas, engendered most recently by a collapse in rural product markets, resulting in massive rural-urban and international migration.

This book shows how these three issues are interrelated in complex ways, focusing on the need to understand that interrelationship for the generation of effective conservation programs. These ideas challenge some in the conservation community since they are at odds with the major trends of some of the large conservation organizations that emphasize targeted land purchases of protected areas. They argue that recent advances in ecological research make such a general approach anachronistic and call, rather, for solidarity with the small farmers around the world who are currently struggling to attain food sovereignty.

'This well written book is informed by sophisticated ecological theory applied to the complexities of modern tropical development in a dazzling critique of conventional thinking.' Susanna Hecht, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Fate of the Forest 'Greens of every stripe -- agro-ecologists, conservationists, regional planners -- recognize the need for ecologically farmed areas, an empowered farm population, preserved areas in any sustainable, just and productive mosaic landscape. We all advocate this integration. This book does it.' Richard Levins, Professor of Population Sciences at Harvard University and author of The Dialectical Biologist and Biology Under the Influence 'Nature's Matrix makes the powerful case that sustainable peasant agriculture is a positive force for biodiversity conservation, contrary to a lot of misrepresentation in the literature. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the connections between food sovereignty and the environment.' Peter Rosset, author of Food Is Different and Promised Land 'As the authors demonstrate in this ground-breaking book, traditional agroecosystems not only offer promising models for other areas as they promote biodiversity, thrive without agrochemicals, and sustain year-round yields but are key for food sovereignty and the conservation of millions of wild species as they promote high quality matrices.' Miguel Altieri, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture 'An excellent book, highly recommended.' Agroforestry News 'By providing analysis of how agriculture, conservation and biodiversity should be managed for the nutritional and social benefit of the majority, as well as the environmental security of the planet, Nature's Matrix offers policymakers, agronomists and ecologists much to ponder.' New Agriculturist 'An important publication that should be read by all ecologists, because the arguments are backed up with a considerable quantity of data.' Janet SprentBritish Ecological SOciety, 2010. 'Hopefully books such as these will help the change from denial to holistic thinking.' IZWA. 'This book is an important read for conservationists who are invited to adopt a landscape matrix perspective and aim for better understanding of the socio-economic and political forces that influence land use' ORC Bulletin, Dec 2010


1. Biodiversity Pattern and Conservation: An Overview;
2. The Ecological Argument;
3. The Agricultural Matrix;
4. The Social Movements;
5. The New Paradigm.

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Ivette Perfecto is Professor of Natural Resources at the University of Michigan. John Vandermeer is Arthur Thurnau Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan. Angus Wright Emeritus Professor of Environmental Studies at California State University Sacramento.

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