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.

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.

Image: NASA, NASA photo of deforestation in Tierras Bajas project, Bolivia, from ISS on April 16, 2001, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
26 November 2018

This paper presents maps of global land use change from 1992 to 2015, showing net increases in the area of agriculture, grassland and settlement, and net losses in the area of forest, wetland, shrubland, sparse land, bare land and water.

Image: lubasi, Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
19 November 2018

6.5–15.4 million hectares of private land in Brazil could become legally available for deforestation, because expansion in the land area designated as conservation units or indigenous reserves could trigger a legal mechanism whereby the area of legal reserves for native vegetation may be decreased.

12 November 2018

The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research has produced an online compendium of methods for assessing agrobiodiversity, including diversity of crops, livestock, pollinators and harvested wild plants.

6 November 2018

This book, by David Lindenmayer, Damian Michael, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance and Emma Burns, describes best practice approaches for restoring Australian farm woodlands for birds, mammals and reptiles.

6 November 2018

WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report finds that population sizes of thousands of vertebrate species have declined by 60%, on average, between 1970 and 2014, land degradation seriously impacts 75% of terrestrial ecosystems, and current species extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times higher than the background rate. The report attributes these impacts to rising demand for land, water and energy, and explores the impacts of agriculture, fisheries and deforestation.

Image: Alex Dunkel, Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) at Berenty Private Reserve in Madagascar, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
29 October 2018

This paper searched for areas of land in Africa where palm oil could be cultivated productively with minimal impact on primate populations. The results showed that such areas are rare: the areas that are suitable for growing palm oil also tend to be areas where primates are highly vulnerable.

Image: Tony Atkin, Colourful Hedgerows, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
22 October 2018

A paper reviews how “working lands” such as farms, forests and rangelands can be managed to protect biodiversity and ecosystems services. The paper points out that the management of working lands can be complementary to using protected areas to conserve biodiversity.

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