Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Conservation/biodiversity

7 January 2020

In this piece for The Conversation, Dan Evans, PhD researcher in soil science at Lancaster University, explains his research on rates of soil formation and erosion. His measurements on a farm in Nottinghamshire, UK suggest that the top 30 cm of soil there could disappear within 138 years because the rate of erosion exceeds the rate of soil formation. 

Image: NASA Earth Observatory, Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 December 2019

This piece examines the data behind forest fires in Brazil, which attracted international attention during the summer of 2019. It concludes that the number of fires in August 2019 was nearly three times higher than in August 2018, and that the extent of deforestation was the highest since 2008, thus refuting the Brazilian government’s claim that August 2019 was “normal” for deforestation. Some contributors to the piece declined to be listed as authors so that they could stay anonymous.

25 November 2019

In this report, the Nature Friendly Farming Network argues that, if given enough financial support, UK farmers can produce food in a way that both protects wildlife and reduces the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The report also suggests that having a diet of “less meat and dairy but of better quality” could be environmentally beneficial.

25 November 2019

Some conservationists propose a “Half Earth” strategy, whereby half of the Earth’s land and half of its sea would be set aside for natural ecosystems. This paper assesses the number and geographical distribution of people who could be affected by the Half Earth conservation plan.

19 November 2019

This report, commissioned by the Wildlife Trusts (a group of UK charities), summarises existing evidence on declines in insects, many types of which have substantially decreased in abundance since 1970 (see for example Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers). It also explores the drivers of these declines and calls for an urgent halt to “all routine and unnecessary use of pesticides”.

11 November 2019

This report from environmental campaign group Greenpeace International finds that abandoned fishing gear (whether discarded intentionally or accidentally) can be a hazard to marine wildlife for many years, partially due to the durability of the plastic used to make ropes, nets and lines.

29 October 2019

According to this report from UK charity the Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association, mixtures of pesticides can be more harmful to human health than the sum of the toxicity of the individual pesticides would suggest. 

Image: nil2hoff, Birds rainforest birds, Pixabay, Pixabay License
18 September 2019

This paper models the global land use change implications of three different dietary scenarios up to the year 2100: business as usual with a continued shift away from pulses and starchy roots and towards animal products; a 95% global reduction in consumption of ruminant products compared to business as usual, with ruminant products to be replaced by cereals, pulses, starchy roots and oilcrops but other meat types to be consumed as in business as usual; and a 95% reduction in consumption of both ruminant and monogastric products. 

16 July 2019

The second edition of Nature’s Matrix sets out the recent state of debate around conservation and agriculture. It argues in favour of small-scale agroecology and food sovereignty.

9 July 2019

This book, by Nicola Randall and Barbara Smith, provides a summary of agricultural ecosystems around the world and uses case studies to illustrate the biological issues and solutions associated with several types of farming system.

4 July 2019

This special issue of the newsletter Forest Cover, produced by the Global Forest Coalition, focuses on large-scale cattle farming and its interactions both with other food production systems and with forests.

Image: jacme31, Northern Gannet flying on Bonaventure Island in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
3 July 2019

Fisheries often discard large quantities of unwanted catches at sea, but policies are being brought in to limit such discards. According to this paper, Northern gannets (seabirds) rely more on fishery discards in years when there are shortages in their natural prey (mainly mackerel) - shortages that may be due to pressure from fisheries. The paper argues that fishery discards are not an adequate substitute for natural prey. 

17 June 2019

This report from environmental NGO Greenpeace International documents the efforts of over 50 companies to demonstrate their progress towards ending deforestation by disclosing their cattle, cocoa, dairy, palm oil, pulp and paper and soya suppliers. No company was able to demonstrate significant action on eliminating deforestation, while those companies that do publish their suppliers all source from producers involved in deforestation.

Image: Ron Knight, Corn Crake (Crex crex), Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
17 June 2019

According to this study of farmland birds in Finland, bird abundance is positively correlated with the nearby presence of organic animal farms, as well as the percentage of nearby field cover and the presence of natural grasslands.

Image: Walter Baxter, A bottlenose dolphin at Spittal, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
11 June 2019

Following consultation with fishers and marine conservation experts, the UK government has created new Marine Conservation Zones around the English coast, taking the UK’s total protected areas of ocean to over twice the size of England. However, some critics question whether the protected areas are actually beneficial to wildlife.

11 June 2019

This report from UK charity Rewilding Britain argues that rewilding peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters in the UK could sequester carbon and also produce other benefits such as flood mitigation, enhanced biodiversity and water quality improvement.

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.

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