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.

(Photo: Rainforest by Andrés Moreno, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0)
7 July 2016

This paper presents biodiversity scenarios as a useful tool to help policymakers predict how flora and fauna will likely respond to future environmental conditions. Although changes to land use are a major driver of biodiversity loss, the study finds that scenarios focus overwhelmingly on climate change. The researchers argue that this imbalance makes scenarios less credible, and they make recommendations on how to improve and make more plausible projections.

(Photo: Mangroves by Pat (Cletch) Williams, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0)
7 July 2016

Voluntary programs represent a widely accepted policy tool for biodiversity conservation on private land and are often market-based (monetary) rather than appealing to values and morals. A growing body of evidence suggests that market-based approaches to conservation, albeit effective and relevant in many cases, are not always sustainable in the long term.

Photo: Natural resources conservation service (Flickr, creative commons 2.0)
9 June 2016

This paper looks at how soil can help contribute to climate mitigation.  It argues that by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that improve the soil-nitrogen cycle (tighter cycle with less leakage), it is possible to enhance soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution.

3 February 2016

This paper presents evidence that humans are undoubtedly altering many geological processes on Earth—and that we have been for some time. According to the international group of geoscientists the evidence is overwhelming that the impact of human activity on Earth has pushed us into a new geological era, a human-dominated time period, termed the “Anthropocene.”

18 January 2016

In this paper, researchers from the Universities of Southampton and Reading compare how effective three different wildlife-friendly farming strategies are at supporting habitat diversity and species richness.

16 November 2015

This paper argues that the failure of protected areas to guard biodiversity partly reflects a lack of science available. The paper offers strategic guidance on the types of science needed to be conducted so protected areas can be placed and managed in ways that support the overall goal to avert biodiversity loss.

9 October 2015

This report by the Science-Policy Partnership Network synthesizes current scientific information to help oil palm policy makers make land-use decisions which jointly meet biodiversity and carbon conservation agendas.

The Science-Policy Partnership Network is led by University of York and was set up by the ‘Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil palm Research’ (SEnSOR) project with funding from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and includes representatives from oil palm growers, consumer goods companies, NGOs, government and the RSPO.

30 September 2015

New research from Cambridge University finds that providing farmers and farmer industries with financial incentives to mitigate agriculture’s impact on the environment positively effects greenhouse gas reduction and increased biodiversity at the aggregate level.

The study analysed investment in two key types of agri-environment schemes: measures to spare land for conservation, and measures (such as taxation) intended to limit fertiliser use. The research team plotted this against national trends for farmland bird populations and emissions from synthetic fertiliser across the US, Canada, Australia and Europe.

16 July 2015

This paper from Nature Communications explores whether arguments that highlight and quantity biodiversity’s economic value to humanity are sufficient approaches  to halting its loss; and it also discusses some of the potential trade offs between the conservation of biological diversity and the concept of ecosystem services.

18 June 2015

This report by the UK’s Land Use Policy Group discusses The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification and highlights agroecology as a method to safeguard UK food security. The report was prepared by the Organic Research Centre in collaboration with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

12 June 2015

Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) has produced a new report, Feeding the Planet: Building on the Milan Charter, released to coincide with the Expo Milan 2015 which is organised around the theme: Feeding The Planet, Energy for Life.

The Milan Charter – produced by Italy - highlights the need to produce healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the planet and its equilibrium. 

29 April 2015

This paper published in Nature shows that neonicotinoids, a commonly used insecticide seed coating can have serious consequences for wild bees. The paper is based on a study of 16 rapeseed fields in the southern part of Sweden; it finds that there are only half as many bees in fields that have been treated with the insecticide as in untreated ones. Insecticides that include neonicotinoid make up a fifth of the whole insecticide market.

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31 March 2015

Some scientists have suggested that Africa's wet savannahs could be ideal for growing crops needed to meet the growing demand for food and bioenergy. In this paper however, researchers from Princeton University and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) warn that farmland conversion of these savannahs will come at a much higher cost than previously thought.

31 March 2015

This paper asks the question “Can agriculture be sustainable?”  It argues that, if we want to take a different path, we will have to make the choice to do so. It emphasises that we need to be clear that we have choices - options that need to be debated rather than subsumed in a dialogue of crisis and food shortages. The paper outlines some of these options in order to pursue a more sustainable pathway.

26 March 2015

You can now view videos of all key note presentations from the Natural Capital Initiative's second “Valuing our Life Support Systems 2014” event. You can also view and download power point presentations given by key note and session speakers. The NCI report of the meeting in its entirety will be published in early spring.

29 January 2015

This updated version further develops the Planetary Boundaries concept, which was first published in 2009.  In their original outline of the concept the authors identified nine key global processes and systems that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth System – the interactions of land, ocean, atmosphere and life that together provide conditions upon which our societies depend.  They argued that if these natural processes are disrupted beyond a certain ‘boundary’ point, the consequences could be irreversible and lead to abrupt environmental change, making life on earth very hard for humans.

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