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This report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics estimates the value of ten ecosystems services provided by natural capital in Scotland. Information on agricultural biomass (including fish capture) and carbon sequestration may be of particular interest to FCRN readers.
The Scottish Land Commission (a public body set up by the Scottish Government) reports that highly concentrated land ownership in some parts of Scotland hampers economic development and can be harmful to local communities.
The UK Government has released a summary of the likely impacts on business and trade if the UK leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement on 29 March 2019 (i.e. a ‘no deal’ Brexit). Several items are relevant to the food system. See also the draft of temporary rates of customs duty on imports that will apply to different goods in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Canada’s new dietary guidelines include environmental considerations as well as health, suggesting that diets higher in plant-based foods generally help to conserve “soil, water and air”.
The UK government has set out a waste and resources strategy for England, aiming to eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 and promote a circular economy. Proposed measures include taxing plastic that contains less than 30% recycled material and providing food waste collection to all householders and relevant businesses.
The US Global Change Research Programme has published the second volume of its Fourth National Climate Assessment, which examines the human welfare, societal, and environmental impacts of climate change and variability across many sectors, including agriculture.
This interim report from the UK’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission inquiry into the challenges that the food industry, farmers, and the countryside face sets out the progress that the inquiry has made so far.
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published “Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit” - a summary of the responses to its consultation.
New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a report exploring how much and over what timescale the climate is affected by methane emissions from livestock. It focused on two questions. First,if methane emissions from livestock were held at current levels or followed business-as-usual trajectories, what would their contribution to future warming be? Second, what reduction in methane emissions from livestock would be needed so that they cause no additional contribution to warming?
The UK government has released the first batch of its technical notices to advise businesses and individuals on how to prepare for the hypothetical scenario of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The notices include some topics of relevance to the food system.
The UK’s Committee on Climate Change has released its 2018 Progress Report to Parliament on Reducing UK Emissions. Chapter 6 focuses on agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry. The report finds the UK agricultural emissions were unchanged between 2008 and 2016. In 2017, half of farmers did not think it was important to consider emissions when making decisions about farming practices. The forestry sector’s ability to sequester carbon has levelled off due to the average age of trees increasing relative to the past. Chapter 6 makes only passing reference to demand-side measures for agricultural emissions reductions (see Figure 6.9).
Over two billion people in developing countries are smallholder farmers and often depend on pollinators, according to this report by the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences. The report finds that insufficient pollination has already been found across many crops in the developing world, which could negatively affect cash crops (such as coffee and cocoa) and intake of nutritious foods such as fruit and nuts. The report points to a lack of data on pollinators in developing countries, and calls for further research, education programmes and sustainable development projects incorporating bee-keeping.
The report “Brexit: food prices and availability” from the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee of the UK House of Lords examines the potential impacts of Brexit on the UK food supply. 30% of the UK food supply is currently imported from the EU and a further 11% from non-EU countries under terms set by EU trade deals.
FCRN member Gary Bentrup, of the USDA National Agroforestry Centre, has co-authored a report on how agroforestry can be used to help agriculture both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The report defines agroforestry as “the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal production systems”, which it further categorises into silvopasture, alley cropping, forest farming (or multi-storey cropping), windbreaks and riparian forest buffers. Topics covered include ecosystems services provided by agroforestry, the relationship of agroforestry to greenhouse gas emissions, economic and sociocultural considerations and an overview of agroforestry in different US regions, Canada and Mexico.
Scotland’s soils contain over half of the UK’s soil carbon stock, making it important to know how to avoid soil carbon loss. The Scottish landscape is currently a net sink for carbon (mainly due to forestry). A recent report assesses current knowledge on soil carbon and land use in Scotland.
The latest EU agricultural outlook report has been released. It presents the medium-term outlook for the major EU agricultural commodity markets and agricultural income to 2030, based on a set of macroeconomic assumptions deemed most plausible at the time of the analysis.
The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has developed a new online tool. DOPA Explorer 2.0 provides allows users to explore and compare protected areas, with regard to their species and ecosystems, and the pressures they are exposed to through human development.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released a worldwide map that details croplands in high resolution in an ongoing effort to monitor croplands and water use.