Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Biodiversity and ecosystems

With large scale habitat loss, overharvesting, climate change and invasive species affecting most regions in the world, many thousands of animal and plant species are at risk of extinction due to human actions. The food system is the primary driver of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. At the same time, food production is closely interlinked with and dependent on the continued existence of specific natural areas, because it relies on ecosystem services such as pollination, fish stock renewal and rain water cycling and countless others.

16 July 2019

The second edition of Nature’s Matrix sets out the recent state of debate around conservation and agriculture. It argues in favour of small-scale agroecology and food sovereignty.

16 July 2019

This International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) report examines deforestation caused by small-scale shifting cultivation, logging, cash crops, mineral extraction and charcoal production, using the province of Mai-Ndombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a case study.

9 July 2019

This book, by Nicola Randall and Barbara Smith, provides a summary of agricultural ecosystems around the world and uses case studies to illustrate the biological issues and solutions associated with several types of farming system.

4 July 2019

This special issue of the newsletter Forest Cover, produced by the Global Forest Coalition, focuses on large-scale cattle farming and its interactions both with other food production systems and with forests.

Image: jacme31, Northern Gannet flying on Bonaventure Island in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
3 July 2019

Fisheries often discard large quantities of unwanted catches at sea, but policies are being brought in to limit such discards. According to this paper, Northern gannets (seabirds) rely more on fishery discards in years when there are shortages in their natural prey (mainly mackerel) - shortages that may be due to pressure from fisheries. The paper argues that fishery discards are not an adequate substitute for natural prey. 

17 June 2019

This report from environmental NGO Greenpeace International documents the efforts of over 50 companies to demonstrate their progress towards ending deforestation by disclosing their cattle, cocoa, dairy, palm oil, pulp and paper and soya suppliers. No company was able to demonstrate significant action on eliminating deforestation, while those companies that do publish their suppliers all source from producers involved in deforestation.

Image: Ron Knight, Corn Crake (Crex crex), Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
17 June 2019

According to this study of farmland birds in Finland, bird abundance is positively correlated with the nearby presence of organic animal farms, as well as the percentage of nearby field cover and the presence of natural grasslands.

Image: Walter Baxter, A bottlenose dolphin at Spittal, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
11 June 2019

Following consultation with fishers and marine conservation experts, the UK government has created new Marine Conservation Zones around the English coast, taking the UK’s total protected areas of ocean to over twice the size of England. However, some critics question whether the protected areas are actually beneficial to wildlife.

11 June 2019

This report from UK charity Rewilding Britain argues that rewilding peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters in the UK could sequester carbon and also produce other benefits such as flood mitigation, enhanced biodiversity and water quality improvement.

13 May 2019

Agriculture is one of the leading drivers behind the loss of species and ecosystems, warns the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). An estimated one million animal and plant species (one in eight) are threatened with extinction. Species losses are happening tens or hundreds of times more rapidly today than over the last 10 million years, with the rate accelerating.

Image: NakNakNak, Rio De Janeiro Brazil Rainforest, Pixabay, Pixabay licence
29 April 2019

An open letter co-signed by over 600 European scientists and two Brazilian Indigenous organisations (which together represent 300 Brazilian Indigenous groups) calls for the European Union to make its trade negotiations with Brazil conditional on respecting Indigenous rights, protecting forests and defining strict social and environmental criteria for traded commodities such as iron and beef.

Image: Charles Knowles, Eastern Washington wheat harvest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 April 2019

This paper reviews studies where changes in both productivity and species richness have been tracked at the same location, following changes in the intensity of land use. On average, intensifying land use leads to a 20% gain in output and a 9% decrease in species richness, but there is considerable variation between different contexts.

8 April 2019

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.

Image: Jing, Soybeans Beans Soy, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
8 April 2019

This commentary argues that the recent imposition of trade tariffs between China and the United States could lead to increased tropical deforestation as other suppliers make up for the 50% fall in exports of soybeans from the US to China seen during 2018.

Image: NASA, Deforestation in the state of Rondônia in western Brazil, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
8 April 2019

Around 15% of the carbon dioxide emissions from food consumption in the European Union are due to deforestation, according to this paper, which traces the links between final consumers and the expansion of agriculture (including both crops and pasture) and tree plantations into tropical forests. Depending on the model used, 29% to 39% of tropical deforestation emissions were attributed to the production of goods for export.

Image: MichelAelbrecht, Bee nature lavender, Pixabay, Pixabay licence
1 April 2019

This paper shows that pollinator services in agricultural landscapes that have been highly altered from their natural state are lower than would be predicted from a simple count of pollinator species. The paper bases its estimates on a study of the evolutionary relationships between pollinators and extensive surveys of pollinators.

Image: Neil Palmer CIAT, Amazon9, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 March 2019

In this research on the Brazilian Amazon, FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen of UCLouvain finds that forest conservation and agricultural growth are not mutually exclusive, and sheds new light on the land sparing/sharing debate. The authors argue that enforcement of Brazil's forest laws is key to encouraging the efficient use of land and the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.

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