Neolithic revolution dates back to 11.000 BC when first forms of agriculture originated in the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia. Over generations, indigenous communities have made countless innovations to cultivate their surrounding environment for their livelihoods and developed a great variety of “Indigenous Production Landscapes” (IPLs). This new interaction with the earth did not only supply food and other fundamentals of pastoral living, but also nurtured traditions and culture along with sustaining the wider ecosystem shared with other species.
However, as a result of the fast socio-economic development over the last century, Indigenous Production Landscapes shifted to uniform monocultures at an accelerating rate. Nevertheless, great varieties of Indigenous Production Landscapes around the world continue to host practices that minimize external agricultural entries and maximize the quality of food and sustenance of associated biodiversity. While decreasing fast, Indigenous Production Landscapes continue to extend in terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms. To name a few, dehasa corresponds to indigenous production landscapes in Spain, satoyama landscapes in Japan and horata hills are spread along the southwest coastal rim of Anatolia, Turkey.
While IPL’s result from ancient forms of practices to sustain land- and waterscapes, they embrace a holistic vision and knowledge, which corresponds to answers to several important questions of our modern era. How to use scarce water resources under the pressure of climate change? How to improve soil fertility in natural ways, while using the land as the source of food? How to preserve biodiversity within wider landscapes? What shall be the optimum social structure and economic model for maintaining fair production around the world? Remnants of IPL’s in various continents shelter complex answers to these key questions, which have proven to function over the last thousands of years sustainably.
Despite their universal value as living cultural and natural heritages, IPLs are rarely regarded as key ecosystems for biodiversity, nor they are widely considered as distinct and enclave agricultural landscapes, with the exemptions of the Satoyama Initiative and the FAO Initiative on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System Initiative in 2002. Despite these two global initiatives, there are very limited studies on overriding scientific criteria that defines an IPL. This reduces the recognition and protection chance of these fragile areas. As it stands, they can only be defined and conserved through ad hoc decisions, and they cannot be subject to analytical assessments. Furthermore, advanced studies on social and ecological principles of IPL systems; as well as linkages among ecological and social patterns and our knowledge on historical context are not sufficient.
Doga works for the development of criteria for identification of IPLs as unique spaces to preserve biodiversity. Furthermore, hands-on conservation actions for such landscapes is carried out a different part of Turkey including the olive and oak pastures of the Aegean, Angora Goat meadows of Ankara region and the agricultural mosaic of hills and mountains of Divrigi, Sivas. Doga’s work in these areas are carried out in cooperation with Slow Food and Hrant Dink Foundation.