Seyedeh Leila Masumzadeh; Kouros Khoshbakht
Introduction: Conservation of biological diversity, as our intangible natural heritage, promotes the sustainability of agricultural systems. In this regard, the development and protection of homegardens, as a production system that protects agricultural biodiversity, is essential. The species richness ...
Introduction: Conservation of biological diversity, as our intangible natural heritage, promotes the sustainability of agricultural systems. In this regard, the development and protection of homegardens, as a production system that protects agricultural biodiversity, is essential. The species richness of garden crops has made home gardens suitable places for their in situ protection. Accordingly, this study evaluated the status of homegardens in Khalkhal (Iran) by assessing their agrobiodiversity indices and factors (e.g., socio-economic) affecting garden crops. Material and methods: In order to assess the biodiversity of homegardens in Khalkhal County, seven villages were selected by cluster random sampling based on the population of the villages. Data from homegardens were collected using a questionnaire, face-to-face interviews with 150 farmers, and direct observation of home gardens in the summer of 2016. Data were extracted and processed before the analysis and the qualitative data were encoded and entered into Excel software. Pearson and Spearman's rank correlations coefficients, regression coefficients and cluster analysis as well as frequency and mean were calculated using SPSS V23. Results and discussion: The results showed that the villages of Majre with 61 species and Ghezel Dargh with 31 species had the highest and lowest levels of species richness, respectively. There were no significant differences between villages based on the Shannon-Weiner index. The maximum and minimum Shannon values were calculated in Guransarab (1.99) and Lanbur (1.11) villages, respectively, and the average Shannon-Wiener value was 1.57. The results also revealed that 57% of the gardeners earned their main income from other sectors and received no income from horticulture or beekeeping. In addition, as incomes from other sectors increased, the tendency to maintain homegardens decreased. Our findings indicated that socio-economic factors and certain aspects of home gardens may affect their biodiversity and biodiversity indices. For example, the socio-economic factors of age, education level, number of household members, level of participation of women, years of experience in gardening, working hours in the garden, and knowledge of the benefits of the plant species increased the values of the biodiversity-related indices. Furthermore, the characteristics of a homegarden, such as area, incorporation of domesticated plants and short distances to sales centers were the major factors influencing the increase in biodiversity-related indices. Conclusion: The results indicated that awareness-raising measures and education, economic supports such as the establishment of farmers’ markets, branding their products and designing suitable irrigation systems for home gardeners should be taken into account in future management plans.