Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops Releases New Habitat and Biodiversity Metric
SEBASTAPOL, CALIF. November 4, 2016 –
The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC) today announced the release of its new Habitat and Biodiversity Metric, a measurement tool designed to help specialty crop growers document and track the extent of on farm habitat and practices associated with positive biodiversity results.
Developed through unprecedented collaboration among growers, buyers, and public interest groups, the new metric is intended to provide a science-based yardstick to measure on farm habitat and biodiversity in the production of all fruits, vegetables and nuts. SISC’s new Habitat and Biodiversity Metric can be viewed here: http://www.stewardshipindex.org/working_metrics.php
Biodiversity is the variety and health of organisms at all levels, from microbes to mammals. Habitats are the environments that support these various organisms. Increased biodiversity and habitat is generally associated with greater ecosystem health, so growers can use this metric as a tool to track continual improvement of ecosystem health on their farm over time. This metric documents and tracks the extent of on farm habitat and practices associated with positive biodiversity results.
Our nation’s 500 million acres of agricultural land support diverse plant and animal species and often provide more suitable habitat for native wildlife than do developed lands. Agricultural lands can also benefit habitat connectivity between natural areas, thus improving the effectiveness of off-farm conservation efforts. However, agricultural practices can also negatively impact biodiversity. Improving the health of species and ecosystems cannot be achieved without the voluntary participation of private landowners, and lands primarily managed for human uses must play a key role.
Because SISC regards sustainability as an ongoing and evolving process, the SISC metrics are not intended to deem specific practices or performance levels as “sustainable.” SISC’s goal is to give any producer or buyer considering a sustainability program free access to a single, data-driven measurement tool, so that individual partners across the different parts of the supply chain do not have to invest time and resources developing proprietary systems.
“If you are considering metrics for assessing on-farm practices, we hope you will adopt SISC metrics,” said Hank Giclas, Senior Vice President, Western Growers, and founding member of SISC. “They were developed with many stakeholders around the table, have been peer-reviewed by independent experts and are intended to help individual producers identify opportunities for both practice improvements and economic savings.”
About SISC | The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops is a multi-stakeholder-driven system for measuring sustainability performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain. SISC offers a suite of outcomes-based metrics, or measurements, enabling operators to benchmark and communicate their own performance. For more information, please visit www.stewardshipindex.org.