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.

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.

20 March 2019

This report by international non-profit Forum for the Future outlines some key trends in sustainability that the authors expect will be important over the next decade. The report also aims to equip decision-makers with a greater ability to influence systems at the scale necessary to tackle global challenges.

Image: Pixnio, Bee tree flower, Public domain
12 March 2019

This study surveys declining pollinator populations and the threat to agricultural production this poses at a time when (the paper argues) higher yields and farm efficiencies are needed. It outlines how woody habitats such as trees and hedgerows can be used on agricultural land to aid conservation of pollinators.

4 March 2019

This report from the FAO reviews the state of ‘biodiversity for food and agriculture’, i.e. any biodiversity that contributes in some way to food production. It finds that 26% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction. Crop diversity is declining, with only 9 crop species accounting for 66% of crop production. One third of fish stocks are overfished, and a further 60% are being fished at their maximum sustainable capacity.

26 February 2019

This report, originally published in French by policy research institute IDDRI and translated to English by the UK organic charity Soil Association, models the impacts of the European farming system transitioning to agroecological principles.

Image: Illuvis, Moth Lepidoptera, Pixabay, Pixabay License
19 February 2019

Over 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction over the next few decades and 75% to 98% of insect biomass has already been lost, according to this review of the current state of knowledge about insect declines, with habitat loss through conversion to intensive agriculture being the main driver. Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are also driving insect declines.

Image: Max Pixel, Bee bees honey, CC0 Public Domain
18 February 2019

Students at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have created a machine learning algorithm to automatically count Varroa mites in beehives. The algorithm could help beekeepers monitor bee health more quickly and accurately.

18 February 2019

This book discusses options for sustainable weed control for a variety of crops. Topics covered include the impacts of herbicides on people, soils and ecosystems, integrated weed management, and herbicide resistance.

18 February 2019

Human-induced environmental change could lead to the collapse of social and economic systems, according to this report from the UK think-tank IPPR, which argues that policymakers must shift their understanding of the scale and impacts of environmental breakdown and the need for transformative change.

Image: glennhurowitz, Recent deforestation on peatland for palm oil plantation, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
11 February 2019

According to this paper, 23% of deforestation in Indonesia between 2001 and 2016 was caused by palm oil plantations, 20% by conversion of forests to grasslands or shrublands (including conversion caused by fire), 15% by small-scale agriculture, 14% by timber plantations, and the remainder due to other causes including logging roads, mining and fish ponds.

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