Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Land

Just under 40% of the entire terrestrial surface of our planet is used for agriculture, the vast majority of this for pasture. The land area which can be defined as wilderness – areas where humans have little influence – accounts for around 20% of the total land area and this extent is diminishing. These wilderness areas are, however, vital for the continued existence of wildlife plant species, and ecosystem services. As human populations grow and their lifestyle and consumption patterns become more resource demanding, the pressure on land use is increasing, and the multiple uses we have for land are often in competition with one another. Different cultures define ownership and rights to use land in contrasting ways, making land not only a precious resource but often a focus of contention too.

4 July 2019

A new a two-year interdisciplinary project research project, Rurban Revolution, will ask whether ruralising urban areas through greening and growing can create a healthy, sustainable and resilient food system. The project, based at Lancaster University, will be run by Jess Davies. Thanks to FCRN member Lael Walsh for bringing this project to our attention.

11 June 2019

This report, commissioned by the UK’s Labour Party, proposes major reforms in land governance in the UK including the establishment of a Common Ground Trust (see below). FCRN readers may be particularly interested in the report’s recommendations surrounding agriculture and farmland.

Image: Eva Decker, Moss bioreactor, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic
11 June 2019

This opinion article suggests that microbial biomass from bacteria, yeasts, or fungi could be used as human food and animal feed, with the advantage of using less land compared to conventional crop production, particularly if feedstocks were derived directly from atmospheric carbon dioxide.

3 June 2019

FCRN member Mark Measures has produced this report on the use of different soil analysis and management techniques for organic and agro-ecological farming. The report is the outcome of a Churchill Fellowship.

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.

29 April 2019

This podcast, “Shrinking agriculture's footprint”, is part of the Breakthrough Dialogues series from California-based environmental research centre The Breakthrough Institute. The episode explores which farming practices are most sustainable and discusses land sharing versus land sparing.

29 April 2019

This report from the UK think tank Green Alliance sets out how the UK could bring its land use emissions to net zero. The actions proposed include ecosystem restoration, planting new areas of woodland, capturing carbon in soils, and reducing demand for meat and dairy.

16 April 2019

This report from the Animal Law and Policy Programme at Harvard Law School estimates the carbon sequestration potential of converting UK land currently used for animal agriculture into native forest. The remaining cropland is enough to provide more than the recommended calories and protein for all UK residents, according to the authors.

26 March 2019

The Scottish Land Commission (a public body set up by the Scottish Government) reports that highly concentrated land ownership in some parts of Scotland hampers economic development and can be harmful to local communities.

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.

Image: dany13, DSC00234/Brasil/Pantanal/ Cowboys Herding Zebu Cattle on Miranda, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2019

This paper analyses how different agriculture and forestry activities affect biodiversity and carbon sequestration. In 2011, the top driver of losses to bird species richness was cattle production, while the greatest driver of losses to net carbon sequestration (relative to sequestration if natural vegetation were allowed to grow) was forestry.

4 March 2019

In this report, the UK think tank Green Alliance argues that land-based carbon credits could be incorporated into a ‘Natural Infrastructure Scheme’ (NIS), a scheme previously proposed by the Green Alliance.

Image: Neil Palmer (CIAT), 2DU Kenya 92, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
4 March 2019

Climate mitigation policies rarely account for the time lags associated with land-based greenhouse gas mitigation policies such as reforestation, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or reduction of agricultural emissions, argues this paper, making it unlikely that commitments under the Paris Agreement will be met.

Image: PublicDomainImages, Soil tilling farmer, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
26 February 2019

This paper uses long-term studies from Europe and China to examine the effects on soil quality of organic matter addition, no-till practices, crop rotation and organic farming. It finds that yields are lower under no-till and organic practices, but that these practices are associated with higher soil organic matter.

Image: Oregon State University, A mature grass plant is composed of leaves, a root system, stems and a seed head, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
19 February 2019

This commentary in Nature Sustainability discusses governance and initiatives for conserving and increasing soil organic carbon. Through a multi-stakeholder discussion group, the authors developed a global agenda for action on soil organic carbon.

11 February 2019

This report outlines the outcomes of the 4 per 1000 Africa Symposium on Soils for Food Security and Climate, which discussed the links between soil health and climate in Africa.

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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