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: Susanne Nilsson, Flickr, Tropical Fish, Creative Commons License 2.0
31 August 2016

Researchers from Conservation International have found a small island near Timor-Leste with staggering species richness. Atauro Island, home to about 8,000 people sits in the middle of the so-called Coral Triangle, known for its biodiverse marine environments.

Photo: Secret Pilgrim, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
31 August 2016

These two studies discuss afforestation projects in relation to 1) land availability and sheep farming in Scotland, and 2) the biodiversity losses that may be associated with such projects.

Photo: Ano Lobb, Flickr creative commons license 2.0
31 August 2016

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications provides additional evidence that a specific group of controversial pesticides, neonicotinoids, affects wild bees negatively. The work was funded by the UK government and related data of wild bee distributions over time to the introduction of the pesticides in British fields. It is the first to link the pesticides to the decline of many bee species in real-world conditions.

23 August 2016

The OneHealth project, launched in 2015, explores the relationship between infectious diseases, biodiversity and ecosystems, the economics of disease and disease drivers, and the impacts of climate change and demography on health.

Photo: Glenn Hurowitz, Flickr, deforestation for oil palm, creative commons license 2.0
23 August 2016

In this analysis presented in the journal Nature, four conservation scientists warn against the current trend of over-reporting on climate change’s impacts on biodiversity. Instead, they find that by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss are overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture.

Photo: Flickr StateofIsrael, Agriculture, Creative Commons License 2.0
23 August 2016

Entering into the sustainable intensification debate, Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and colleagues propose that a paradigm for sustainable intensification can be defined and translated into an quantitative, operational framework for agricultural development.

1 August 2016

This report by members of the Environmental Pillar and Stop Climate Chaos aims to better inform discussions across civil society, media and government, and at EU policy level, regarding Ireland’s climate, energy, and wider environmental responsibilities.

Photo: targut, rapeseed fields, Flickr, Creative commons licence 2.0
1 August 2016

Biofuel policies have been a major driver of rising prices for biofuel crops around the world, such as rapeseed, corn and soy. In this paper researchers take France as an example and show that a tax of €0.05–0.27 per kg of fertiliser could help to limit French farmers’ use of fertiliser (driven by the high rapeseed prices resulting from biofuels policy).

(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.

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