Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Land use and land use change

Photo credit: Scion_cho, Junked, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
24 October 2016

A key ingredient in junk food is vegetable oil. 60% of this oil is from oil palm and soybean, production of which has been expanding in Southeast Asia and South America, resulting in widespread deforestation and biodiversity loss. In this article, the authors calculate the amount of current deforestation due to vegetable oil consumption (through junk food) and extrapolate vegetable oil demand to predict the deforestation future consumption patterns would cause by 2050.

18 October 2016

This report by Zero Carbon Australia, outlines how research on greenhouse gas emissions from land use (agriculture and forestry) can be reduced to zero net emissions, coupled with economic opportunities and increased resilience in the face of climate change. The land use sector is the second largest source of emissions in Australia and is highly exposed to the impacts of climate change. 15% of total emissions in Australia are from the agriculture and forestry sectors, the largest component of which is land clearing for grazing.

17 October 2016

In this letter, over 100 researchers and practitioners argue that media coverage of the 2016 International Peat Congress (the first to be held in the tropics) was dangerously misleading in its assertions that peatland management under palm oil plantations was sustainable (see for example this news article by BorneoPost). They argue that such articles, by downplaying the issues imposed on peatland ecosystems by agriculture, undermine recent real and promising advances in tropical peatland management.

17 October 2016

This paper makes an important methodological contribution to the highly disputed debate about whether the net effect of agricultural intensification on biodiversity is positive or negative. What is already known is that there is clear relationship between increased agricultural intensification and decreased biodiversity on the land that has been intensified. 

Photo: David Leo Veksler, Binjang Forest Park, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
11 October 2016

Initiated in 1999, the Grain-for-Green Program was set up primarily to reduce soil erosion and uses cash payments to incentivise people to replant trees on sloped crop and scrubland. This study examines the effects on bird and bee species in the scheme across the country. It finds that the program has not greatly benefited birds and bees due to the common practice of monoculture tree planting.

4 October 2016

The EU uses more than its fair share of global land; in 2010 the amount of land needed to satisfy our consumption of agricultural goods and services was 43% greater than the land available within its boundaries. This report stresses the responsibility that the EU has to measure, monitor and reduce its global land footprint.

Photo: Pejman Parvandi, Footprint, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
4 October 2016

There is increasing evidence that human demands on natural systems are accelerating and could affect the stability and services provided by these systems. This paper aims to aid understanding of the temporal and spatial variability of human pressures on natural systems, which provides a foundation for environmental damage mitigation. Recent advances in remote sensing have allowed great development in mapping of human pressures, particularly in forested areas. Other pressures, such as roads and pasture lands, have by comparison been overlooked.

Photo: USFWS Mountain-Prairie, Wetlands in Croplands, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
28 September 2016

In this modelling study, the authors examine potential trade-offs between sufficient food provisioning in the future and sustaining biodiversity. On the one hand they find that cropland expansion increases food security, particularly in areas which are currently struggling with access to safe and nutritious food.

Photo: Tishman Environment and Design Center, Treeplanting, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
28 September 2016

Among climate mitigation options, afforestation offers its carbon sequestration potential at a moderate cost, and therefore might be used at a large scale in the future. As suitable land is limited though, competition of land for forest with crop and pastureland might drive food prices up.

Photo: Rod Waddington, After the Rainforest Uganda, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
6 September 2016

In this paper, land change scenarios are modelled that include biodiversity protection or afforestation for carbon sequestration as an explicit demand which competes with demand for food and feed production.

Image: US Department of Agriculture Cropland Data Layer, Flickr
31 August 2016

Future demand for food and for land is set to grow. A key question is therefore: how can we most productively use land for food, in order balance the multiple competing demands for the ecosystem services it provides? One way this has been investigated previously is by looking at crop yields and how to increase them. Another way, focussing instead on the consumption side, has looked at the metric of dietary land footprint.

Photo: Glenn Hurowitz, Flickr, deforestation for oil palm, creative commons license 2.0
23 August 2016

In this analysis presented in the journal Nature, four conservation scientists warn against the current trend of over-reporting on climate change’s impacts on biodiversity. Instead, they find that by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss are overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture.

Photo, Suzette, Visiting an organic farm, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
23 August 2016

Alternative cropping systems such as organic or conservation agriculture are often expected to lead to enhanced soil carbon storage as compared with conventional systems, and therefore to hold potential to contribute to climate change mitigation via carbon sequestration.

1 August 2016

This report by members of the Environmental Pillar and Stop Climate Chaos aims to better inform discussions across civil society, media and government, and at EU policy level, regarding Ireland’s climate, energy, and wider environmental responsibilities.

Photo: Jessica Spengler, Puy lentils, Flickr creative commons licence 2.0
24 July 2016

This paper looks at the agricultural land requirements and GHG emissions associated with supplying Western Europe with food in 2050 from its own land base. It modelled a range of food consumption scenarios based on different ‘protein futures’ to evaluate land use and GHG emissions taking into account both production and demand side mitigation options.

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