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.
In this modelling study, the authors examine potential trade-offs between sufficient food provisioning in the future and sustaining biodiversity. On the one hand they find that cropland expansion increases food security, particularly in areas which are currently struggling with access to safe and nutritious food.
Among climate mitigation options, afforestation offers its carbon sequestration potential at a moderate cost, and therefore might be used at a large scale in the future. As suitable land is limited though, competition of land for forest with crop and pastureland might drive food prices up.
Strong demand for vegetable oil has led to a boom in the Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil industries since 1990. Typically planted in extremely large monoculture plantations, the crop has been implicated in biodiversity loss and human rights issues.
The need to make the best use of agricultural land in the face of growing future demand has made sustainable intensification an important area of food systems research. Previous research which focused on this topic, looked at the spatial distribution of the intensity of agricultural production and how this has changed, but according to the authors, did not provide sufficient insight into the drivers of intensification patterns, especially at subnational scales.
As methane produced by ruminants is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), many researchers and organisations have pointed to the necessity of reducing ruminant stocks around the world. In this study, the authors argue that with the right crop and grazing management, ruminants might not only reduce overall GHG emissions, but could, in fact, facilitate increases in soil carbon, and reduce environmental damage related to current cropping practices.
This letter in Global Change Biology responds to a paper published earlier in the year in Nature Climate Change by de Silva et al (summarised by the FCRN here) which concludes that a combination of strict land controls and an increase in beef production in the Amazon could lead to greater emissions reduction than a scenario of land control and no beef production increases.
In this paper, land change scenarios are modelled that include biodiversity protection or afforestation for carbon sequestration as an explicit demand which competes with demand for food and feed production.
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.
According to this UK study there is a potential for improving soil carbon assessments if inventories increasingly assess soils below the current common level of 30 cm. The researchers estimate that over double the amount of carbon is stored in all UK grassland soils when looking at a depth of 1 metre compared to estimates where only the top 30 cm of soil is considered.
Innovative, climate-smart soil-management can be developed to improve soil fertility; these can increase agricultural production and food security while contributing to climate mitigation through carbon sequestration. The authors propose the solution of recreating conditions that lead to the formation of ADE (African Dark Earths).
Taking as their starting point a hypothetical zero-deforestation for agricultural production, where people would refrain from clearing any further forests for agricultural purposes, the researchers behind this study look at both supply side and demand side measures to assess how changes in production and diet can assist in halting deforestation
This paper discusses the water-energy-food nexus from a UK perspective with a focus on competing land demands. The research, led by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, suggests that current UK policies on water, energy and food are too fragmented to effectively tackle global challenges. The paper argues that there is a need for cross-sectoral policies and for new research to focus on the nexus between sectors, scales and timeframes to address this challenge.
This paper looks at China’s National Forest Conservation Program (NFCP) and concludes that overall, it has been successful in reforesting the country. Prior to this study, scientists did not have proof of China’s claims of forest growth and the effectiveness of the program and China has been under international pressure to scientifically report their findings.
This study is the first to look at the net balance of the three major (biogenic, non-fossil fuel) greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - for every region of earth's land masses. It analyses emissions from land use and land use change and uptakes from land and forests and concludes that the terrestrial biosphere (land and forests) is a net emitter of these greenhouse gases.
This paper in Science discusses the potential of yield increase incentives as a way of convincing farmers to save land to protect biodiversity rather than increasing farmland. The increase of agricultural land is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions in tropical countries. This paper argues that increasing yields on existing agricultural land can provide farmers with the incentive to spare land for wildlife and nature.